Text:  UNPO (Unrepresented Nations’ and Peoples’ Organization)

Ed.:    Andrew Andersen

Map:  Andrew Andersen



Geographical Features:


Gagauzia is an Autonomous Territorial Unit in Moldova, with its own elected parliament. It borders the Republic of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

The area is 1800 km˛.

The capital is Comrat (32 000 inhabitants).





The population of Gagauzia is 170 000. The Gagauz make up 82% of the population (137 500 people). The remaining inhabitants are Moldovans, Russians, Bulgarians and Ukrainians. The Gagauz are of the once numerous Oghuzian tribes that settled in the south- western part of Europe in the 11th century.



There are in fact several hypotheses about possible origins of the Gagauz. Some ethnologists believe that they are Turcisised Bulgarians, others refer to them as Christianized Turks. According to a theiry generally accepted In Turkey they are descendants of the Turkish tribe of Goek Oghuz (“Blue Oghus”) who moved to Dobruja from central anatolia as early as the 13th century. According to a popular theory accepted in Russia and Ukraine, they are descndants of the Patzinaks, nomadic Turcic tribe that was present in the area already in the 8th century.


Gagauz diaspora in the world is 59,000 strong. It includes some 32,000 Gagauz peoplel residing in the Ukraine, 12,500 in Russia, 10,000 in Bulgaria, 5,000 in Turkey, 3,000 in Romania, 3,000 in Greece, 2,000 in the USA and Canada and 1,000 in other CIS countries excluding Russia.


(Andrew Andersen)





The Gagauz are a Turkic-language people. There are three official languages in the Gagauz Region: Gagauz, Moldovan and Russian.




Orthodox Christianity.



Political Organisation:

The Autonomous republic of Gagauz-Yeri is represented in the UNPO by its legally elected representative body - the Peoples Assembly of Gagauzia. The elected leader of the Gagauz-Yeri parliament is called Bashkan and is elected for a four-year term. Gheorghe Tabunscic was elected in November 2002 as Bashkan of Gagauzia.




Political and Legal Status

Gagauzia is governed in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the "Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia", republican and local laws, as well as other normative acts issued by the Gagauzian Parliament.

The Moldovan Parliament accepted the law "On the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia", giving Gagauzia the right to independently determine issues relating to its political, economic and cultural development. In the event that the Republic of Moldova's status as an independent country changes, the people of Gagauzia have the right to self-determination.

Gagauzia has adopted its own symbols that include a coat of arms, flag and anthem, which are used along with the national symbols of the Republic of Moldova.




Flag of “Gagauz Halky” movement (1988)




Flag of Gagauzia adopted in 1992




Flag of Gagauzia adopted in 1995




Brief History:

The Gagauz are a people of Turkic decent whose ethno-genesis lies with the Oguz, Petchenegs and Cuman tribes that inhabited the plains of Central Asia, north of the Caspian and Aral Sea between 500 BC and 900 AD[2]. In the tenth and eleventh century these tribes migrated south (to from the ancestors of the Turkmen) and west. The tribes who moved west settled in the Balkan (Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania) where they adopted a sedentary lifestyle as well as Orthodox Christianity.

The first Gagauz state was established in the thirteenth century along the Black Sea coast in North East Bulgaria in Dobruja. This state was dissolved in 1417 when it became part of the Ottoman Empire. The population remained in the territory and continued to speak the Gagauz language and practice the Orthodox Christian religion. Due to the shared ethnic relationship with the Turks, the Gagauz enjoyed a special autonomy within the Ottoman Empire.



According to a legend which is quite popular among the Gagauz people today, a mounted Gagauz regiment was protecting Constantinople against Osman Turks during its fall in 1453. It is believed that Gagauz warriors were fighting at the side of the last Byzantine Emperor (Constantine XI ) until his heroic death on April 29, 1453.


(Andrew Andersen)



From 1770 to 1812 the Gagauz migrated to Southern Bessarabia, where they settled. They lived under Russian rule until the border changes of 1856, when the territory became part of Romania. During World War II the Gagauz suffered greatly with much loss of life through German occupation, Stalin’s work camps and the great famine of 1946/47.

Until the 1980’s there was no political Gagauz movement. Due to the new Soviet leadership it became possible to speak out on Gagauz issues. This resulted in 1988 in the creation of the movement known as the "Gagauz People", which held its Assembly the following year. At this Assembly, a resolution was adopted to create an autonomous territory in southern Moldova with Comrat as its capital.

After the independence of Moldova, the Gagauz authorities declared Gagauzia an autonomous republic on 19 August 1990. Moldova, stating it was unconstitutional, did however not recognize this. With help of Russian forces, the Gagauz authorities established firm control over their territory. In 1991 a political party called Gagauz Halky (Gagauz nation) was established, which advocated autonomy for Gagauzia.


Eventually, the moderate Gagauzian political views to accept autonomy within the state of Moldova came to predominate. Following negotiations with the Moldovan parliament an autonomous republic of Gagauz-yeri was declared in December 1994. In March 1995 a referendum was held in which the people could decide if they wanted to be part of the Autonomous republic of Gagauz-yeri.

After the elections of 1995, the Gagauz autonomous republic focused on the revival of Gagauz Turkish culture and established ties with Turkey. Economic progress has also been high on the agenda, especially because Gagauz-yeri has been an impoverished region. In 2001 a Gagauz-Romanian-Russian dictionary was published through the "Cainac" Fund for the Support and Development of the Gagauzian Science and Culture, attached to the Moldovan Academy of Sciences.


The last parliamentary elections, which were held in November-December 2003 for the National Assembly, were won by the electoral block of the former communists and the independent ”For Flourishing Gagauzia within the Renewed Moldova”. 23 out of 33 members of the National Assembly are Communists. Presently the National Assembly of the Region of Gagauzia rules the autonomous region of Gagauz-yeri, whereby Moldova control’s the external relations and defence. The leader (Bashkan) of Gagauzia also holds the position of vice-prime-minister of the Republic of Moldova.




Calendar of Major Historical Events

(Click here for the short history of Moldova with maps and illustations)



The Gagauz people settle in southern Bessarabia after Russia´s annexation of the territory between Dniester and Bug.



Territorial changes in the region return Gagauzia to the Principality of Moldova.



Gagauzia is re-annexed by Russia.



Together with the rest of Bessarabia Gagauzia is incorporated into Romania.



As a result of peasant uprising, the first Gagauz republic is proclaimed in Comrat. The uprising is put down by two Royal dragon regiments of Russia



After Bessarabia’s annexation by the USSR, the territory of Gagauzia is divided between the Moldovian SSR and the Ukraine.



Together with the rest of Bessarabia Gagauzia is re-conquered by Romania.



The whole area is once again conquered by the USSR,  the territory of Gagauzia is divided between the Moldovian SSR and the Ukraine the same way it was divided in 1940.




The Gagauz campaign for self-determination begins



Political movement "Gagauz People" (“Gagauz Halky”) is created



A Law on Languages is enacted in Moldova, which is perceived as discriminatory by the Gagauz.



An independent Republic of Gagauzia was proclaimed in several southern districts of Moldova.



Comrat State University established.

Political movement “Gagauz Halky” is reorganized into apolitical party that advocates autonomy for Gagauzia.




The status of Gagauzia (Gagauz Yeri) is recognised as an autonomous region within Moldova. Gagauzia officially becomes an autonomous republic within Moldova. Gagauzia becomes a member of the UNPO.



An end to the five-year conflict between Moldova and Gagauzia is officially declared. The elections for the National Assembly of the Region of Gagauzia are conducted. Several elections have been held for Bashkan of Gagauzia since then.


Gheorghe Tabunscic elected Bashkan of Gagauz Yeri (1995 - 1999).




Dumitru Croitor elected Bashkan of Gagauz Yeri (1999 - 2002)


Gagauz-Romanian-Russian dictionary published



Gheorghe Tabunscic elected Bashkan for a second term.


Dmitrii Croitor (ex-Bashkan of Gagauzia) is appointed to the post of a Permanent Representative of the Republic of Moldova at the UN Office in Geneva.



The amendments to the Moldavian constitution, formalizing the status of Gagauzia, are passed by the Moldavian parliament.

Parliamentary elections are held in Gagauz Yeri.



International conference “Ten years of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia” celebrates the successes of ten years self-determination.



Gagauzia voters participate in the Moldovan Parliamentary elections of 6 March; Gagauzia voter turnout is 53.94%, while for the whole of Moldova it is 58.86%