Staunton, June 15 – At a secret meeting ten days ago, representatives of the Gagauz, Ukrainian and Bulgarian minorities of Moldova as well as leaders of opposition political parties signed an agreement to seek the federalization of Moldova now and the dismemberment of Moldova if Chisinau goes ahead with an EU accord.
That meeting and a subsequent one last week whose participants were then invited to meet at the Russian embassy in the Moldovan capital declared that these groups only wanted a stronger Moldovan state oriented toward Moscow rather than toward the EU rather than anything more radical.
But the agreement, a copy of which has now appeared online, statements by some of the participants to the media in which they first denied that they had done anything untoward, and the involvement of Russian diplomats, strongly suggest that this is part of a Moscow-orchestrated move to undermine Moldova.
The agreement explicitly called for transforming Moldova into “a multi-national union” neutral in international affairs, the preservation of the culture and traditions of the country’s ethnic and religious groups, and the equality of all “regions, nationalities and languages,” with Moldovan and Russian required everywhere and Gagauz, Ukrainian and Bulgarian in particular regions (deschide.md/ro/news/politic/2243/EXCLUSIV--Documentul-semnat-%E2%80%9DVale%C8%9Bii-lui-Putin%E2%80%9D-dup%C4%83-%C3%AEnt%C3%A2lnirea-SECRET%C4%82.htm).
The Moldovan site said that what such declarations were in aid of was “a detailed plan aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country by dividing the country into four components – a Moldovan one with a capital in Chisinau, a Transdniestrian one with a capital in Tiraspol, a Gagauz Peoples Republic centered on Comrat, and a North Moldova one with a capital at Balti.
If the Moldovan government goes ahead with plans to sign accords with the European Union, such divisions could become the basis for one or more “armed rebellions” against the central government and declarations of state independence by all four. Transdniestria already has, Gagauz has voted to, but the others would be new (dw.de/moldova-%C3%AEn-pragul-unei-rebeliuni-armate/a-17699913).
Gagauz leader Mihail Formuzal was outspoken both about tactics and strategy. “We want to stay within Moldova’s borders with our current autonomous status,” he said. “But the central government has adopted a course that oculd divide the country. They want Moldova to join NATO and the EU. We and the people of Transdniestria are against that” (al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/06/moldova-gagauz-secede-crimea-scenario-economy.html#).
In the meantime and even more immediately ominous, Ilia Uzun,a member of the Gagauz People’s Assembly, told an unnamed ambassador in Chisinau that if Moldova moves toward Europe, “we will return Moldova to the conditions of the 1990s” because “we young people know how to use guns” and “we are prepared to die for our land” (dw.de/moldova-%C3%AEn-pragul-unei-rebeliuni-armate/a-17699913).
Two things make such actions worrisome. On the one hand, they represent a recapitulation of what has happened in Ukraine over the last several months. And on the other, they appear to be taking place below the radar screen of many in the West who are now focused on Iraq or at least in some cases Ukraine.
Given such inattention, these Moscow-supported if not indeed Moscow-sponsored destabilization efforts will have time to grow, and consequently, countering them will be far more difficult for Chisinau and its Western partners.