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“Autonomy is a process”: international experts bring fresh perspectives for next generation of Moldovan governance professionals

Published on Wednesday, 4th of December 2019

CMI organised a four-day Academy followed by international conference on ‘Advancing Good Governance through Decentralisation, Autonomy and Accommodation of Minorities’ in November 2019 in Chisinau, Moldova. The events brought together international experts and Moldovan mid-career professionals from civil society, media and central and autonomy authorities, to build knowledge and capacity and develop network and relationships in order to find solutions to common problems related to the issues of decentralization, Gagauzia Autonomy and beyond.

Conference ‘Advancing Good Governance through Decentralization, Autonomy and Accommodation of Minorities’.

CMI Moldova organized Moldova’s first Autumn Academy on ‘Decentralization, Autonomies and Minority Rights’, a four-day academic program for forty of Moldova’s prominent NGO workers, civil servants, students, academics and researchers working in the fields of human rights, law, political science and public administration.

The Academy was designed to improve understanding of decentralization as instrument of addressing minority rights, and deepen capacities for dialogue and discussion on autonomy issues in the next generation of professional stakeholders. These capacities and discussions are vital to progress the existing dialogue about Gagauzia towards advancing conversation, and to generate critical thinking and joint solutions about issues of decentralization and autonomy in Moldova.

Lecture by EURAC Research during the Autumn Academy on ‘Decentralization, Autonomies and Minority Rights’.

The Academy, organized in partnership with Eurac Research Institute, Moldova State University and Comrat State University, was followed by a one-day international conference on ‘Advancing Good Governance through Decentralization, Autonomy and Accommodation of Minorities’ for more than 100 autonomy, governance and minority rights experts.  The aim of the conference was to increase Moldovan stakeholders’ technical understanding of self-government mechanisms and intragovernmental relations. The conference included presentations from academics and researchers at Eurac Research (Italy), the Åland Islands Peace Institute (Finland), the KDZ Center for Public Administration Research (Austria), the State University of Moldova, and other institutions dedicated to decentralization, autonomy self-governance and minority rights.

International experts bring fresh perspectives

The conference provided an opportunity for international experts to provide fresh insights into the common issues surrounding the Chisinau-Comrat relationship. Director of the Institute for Comparative Federalism at Eurac Research Francesco Palermo highlighted that the key distinguishing feature of sustainable autonomies is a shared outlook: “If the view on the development of the state from the position of the region is directed in the same direction as the national view, then this works great”. Reframing the discussion away from ‘sides’, Eurac Research expert in minority rights Sergiu Constantin stressed that “Autonomy is not about ‘bad’ or ‘good’ – autonomy is a process, and it can be effective or ineffective in relation to the quality of management and protection of the rights of local communities”.

Autumn Academy visit to Comrat, Gagauzia. Meeting with Olesea Tanasoglo, Deputy Governor of Gagauzia and Vladimir Kyssa, Chairperson of Gagauzia People’s Assembly.

About the Gagauzia Dialogue Project

Moldova is home to the Gagauz autonomy, which was established in the south of Moldova in order to safeguard the rights of the Gagauz minority, following a period of unrest in the early 1990s.  However, implementation of the law establishing the autonomy has been inconsistent, resulting in frequent disputes and becoming a growing source of tension between the central Government and the autonomy.

Autumn Academy Certificate Ceremony: Natalia Djandjgava, CMI Project Officer, Mikhail Shalvir, Academy Participant, Steve Young, CMI Manager, Elisabeth Alber, Eurac Senior Researcher, Valentina Teosa, Professor Moldovan State University, Elena Cuijuclu, Comrat State University.

The Gagauzia Dialogue project (“Supporting Inclusive Dialogue and Strengthening Capacities for a Better Functioning Gagauz Autonomy in Moldova”) will run from 2019-2021, facilitated by CMI and funded by Sweden. The project brings together legislators, experts and interested parties from Moldova and the Gagauzia autonomy to find joint solutions to common issues. This work builds on the results of three years of dialogue between legislators from the Moldovan Parliament and the Gagauz People’s Assembly within the Gagauzia Working Group (GWG), a parliamentary dialogue platform facilitated by a previous CMI project, also funded by Sweden.