CHISINAU, February 03, (ITAR-TASS). The referendum in Gagauzia, an autonomy within Moldova, 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, highlights the needs for closer interaction with regions, Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said on Monday, February 3.
“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.
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.
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.