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Moldova’s Gagauzia to hold referendum on its future development

February 02, 2014, 8:55 UTC+3 CHISINAU
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CHISINAU, February 02, (ITAR-TASS). Moldova’s Gagauzia will hold a referendum on Sunday, where the Gagauz will express their views on the status of the autonomous region, which may give Gagauzia the right for self-determination in case Moldova loses its independence. Along with the referendum a consultative plebiscite will find out which integration union the locals prefer - the European Union or the Customs Union.

“In Gagauzia everything is ready for the referendum - at 09:00 (Moscow time) 62 polling stations will open to continue working to 23:00 (Moscow time). The referendum will be valid if at least every third of 91,000 registered voters come to the stations. Local and international observers have been accredited to watch the process,” head of the Central Elections Commission Valentina Lisnik told Itar-Tass.

On the eve of the referendum, Gagauzia’s head Mikhail Formuzal and speaker of the local parliament Dmitry Konstantinov called on the people to support the trend for the Customs Union and the postponed status of autonomy.

Moldova’s authorities, in their turn, claim the referendum is illegal, as the country’s Constitution reads that the national foreign policy is responsibility of the central authorities. Prosecutor General’s Office has opened criminal cases against the organisers, the republic’s Central Elections Commission refused to give seals for voting, and the financing was blocked. Thus, local businesses have undertaken expenses for the voting, and the local parliament ordered seals from a local company. Gagauzia has formed teams of volunteers to secure order on the day. The volunteers will assist the local police.

“There are forces interested in provocations in order to discredit us in the eyes of the international community,” Formuzal said. Earlier he told Moldova’s authorities “the situation in the region may become uncontrolled in case of sanctions against the referendum’s organisers.”

The local parliament wrote in its statement “the Gagauz had to organise the referendum due to Romania’s state policy, which is aimed directly at acquisition of Moldova, and due to clear support of it from state officials and authorities.” The local deputies refer to Romania’s President Traian Basesku as saying as his country entered the EU its next national project would be uniting with Moldova. This statement has aroused much criticism both in Chisinau and in Bucharest.

The autonomy of Gagauzia is guaranteed by the Moldovan constitution and regulated by the 1994 Gagauz Autonomy Act. If Moldova decided to unite with Romania, Gagauzia would have the right of self-determination. The Gagauz People's Assembly (parliament) has a mandate for lawmaking powers within its own jurisdiction. This includes laws on education, culture, local development, budgetary and taxation issues, social security, and questions of territorial administration. The People's Assembly also has two special powers: it may participate in the formulation of Moldova's internal and foreign policy; and, should central regulations interfere with the jurisdiction of Gagauzia, it has the right of appeal to Moldova's Constitutional Court.

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