The Gagauz : past and present
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The Gagauz are an Orthodox Christian, Turkish speaking ethnic minority of about 300.000 whose historic lands are situated in present-day Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine, but the majority of which (153.000) lives mainly in Moldova. The ethnic origin of the Gagauz has long been a vexing issue. Their ancestral tongue is part of the southwestern division of Turkic languages, but their precise history is disputed. Over the past century various scholars have argued that they were descendants of Uz, Pechenegs, Cumans, Seldjuk Turks, Turkified Christian Bulgarians, or some combination of all. In 1988 a group of Gagauz intellectuals got together in Komrat and laid the basis of the Gagauz Halla movement the leaders of which on 12 November 1989 proclaimed autonomy. In October 1990, what had started as an spontaneous ethnic and cultural revival of the Gagauz, with Russian inspiration and backing quickly turned into an organized separatist movement that caused a lot of trouble to Moldova in consolidating authority within the borders of its Republic. Towards the end of 1992, the Moldovan government prepared a draft-law granting the Gagauz self-government and economic and cultural autonomy within the framework of single Moldova. The Parliament, however, did not ratify it. At the end, by accepting the Gagauz propsal, entitled Gagauz Yeri , promulgated on 23 December 1994 and adopted on 13 January 1995, the five-year conflict seemed to have come to an end.