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CHISINAU, February 05, /ITAR-TASS/. The Central Electoral Commission of Gagauzia, an autonomy within Moldova, on Wednesday, February 5, announced the official results of the February 2 referendum, in which the overwhelming majority of voters showed their preference for accession to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia over integration with the European Union.
“The referendum showed record high activity of voters: more than 70.4 percent of people eligible to vote went to the polls. According to the final results, 98.4 percent supported integration into the Customs Union, with 1.5 percent having voted against it; 2.5 percent supported accession to the EU and 97.4 percent were against it,” CEC Chair Valentina Lisnik said.
She said 98.8 percent of people had supported the idea of “deferred status of autonomy,” which gives Gagauzia the right to self-determination if Moldova loses independence.
Lisnik stressed that MPs from Belgium Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and other countries had monitored the referendum and stated that the voting had proceeded in accordance with international standards.
Belgian MP Frank Creyelman, an international observer at the referendum, said the voting had been held in accordance with international standards.
Observers from Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and other countries monitored the voting process at 18 polling stations in Gagauzia’s 10 populated localities.
The Moldovan authorities consider the referendum in Gagauzia unlawful, saying that “the country’s foreign policy is not within the jurisdiction of the local authorities.”
However, Gagauzia’s leader Mikhail Formuzal hopes that its results will influence Chisinau’s dialogue with regions.
“The EU, which the Moldovan leadership seeks to join, has the practice of holding referendums even on less important issues. Our authorities did not ask people’s opinion about independence, foreign policy, language, Transdniestrian settlement or any other vital issue. The plebiscite in Gagauzia showed that there is a large gap between declarations made by the leadership of the republic and real life on the ground. I hope that now the opinion of the people will be respected, and we will start building a truly democratic state,” Formuzal told ITAR-TASS.
Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said the referendum in Gagauzia had highlighted the needs for closer interaction with regions.
“Interaction should be different from what it has been until now. We need to concentrate on the real problems in Gagauzia and the south as a whole. Probably, the status of the autonomy will have to be corrected,” he said.
According to preliminary data, over 98.4 percent of 70.4 percent of voters who came to the polling stations supported accession to the Customs Union, and about 2.7 percent voted for integration with the EU.
Leanca noted inadequate work to promote European values in Gagauzia. “Parliamentary elections will be held in Moldova at the end of this year. They will be the most representative referendum on various important issues,” he said and stressed the need to explain to people the benefits of the Association Agreement and Free Trade Area Agreement with the EU.
Some Moldova politicians condemned Gagauzia for its actions and warned that they might divide society. Former Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat urged local authorities to “sign a public declaration in support of the European vector and to condemn separatism.