“We could be the Switzerland of Eastern Europe”

In the second part of the interview, Başkan Dr. Mihail Formuzal talks about the new Moldovan government, the European Union and he gives insights in his daily work.

Moldovarious.com: The four-party-coalition „Alliance for European Integration” has taken the power in the Republic of Moldova after eight years of Communism. What does this mean for Gagauzia?

Başkan Dr. Mihail Formuzal: In the last three years the only focus of our politics has been to serve the citizens of Gagauzia. In all this time we have been looking for friends and not for enemies. I think it will be much easier to work with the new government than with the Communists. We definitely do not want to cross the line and start a new conflict. The most important thing is that Chisianu does not provoke us and that they do not kick our issue us on the political edge. We have to be involved in all internal and external political decisions from the start to the realisation. On first place this will be helpful to Chisinau. If the new government won’t agree with us, we do not hesitate to take our fate in our own hands.

Is your policy EU-friendly?

One part of our population is very positive, when it comes to the European Union; one part is neutral. Mostly young people sympathise for the west. For my money, the Republic of Moldova has the great chance to become the Switzerland of Eastern Europe.

With which countries does Gagauzia maintain international contacts?

We have a very tight relationship with Turkey. They have strongly supported us to democratise our region in the last couple of years without putting any political pressure on us. 25 Gagauzian students attend Turkish universities, 100 Turkish exchange students are matriculated in our brand-new and perfectly equipped “Komrat Devlet University”. Our doctors have the possibility to do specific trainings in the best hospitals of Turkey. Not to forget are all the citizens who work there to feed their families back home in Gagauzia.

Gagauzia is hit by a huge migration wave – such as the rest of Moldova. What has to be done that the Gagauzians remain in their homeland?

The most important thing is to provide well-paid jobs to our people. It is not a problem to find a job where you get paid 500 Lei (30 Euro). But where are the jobs with an acceptable salary of 3000 to 5000 Lei (180 to 300 Euro)? Thus, we offer extraordinary conditions for potential investors such as a five-year exemption of taxes. Our task in the next couple of years is to tackle migration, which is our biggest problem at the moment. There are two major waves of migration: the male population works in Russia in construction building, young women work in Turkey as nannies or shop assistants. Approximately 30.000 Gagauzians live abroad and just come back home for Christmas.

In fact, Gagauzia is a secret tip: sun, wine and an exceptional hospitality. Your region seems to have a great touristy potential.

We know that Gagauzia has a lot to offer and that many people would like to see the place and its people. That is why we just have started a huge touristy development programme with wine streets, a tourist information centre with souvenirs and a travel guide. Of course we need bigger capacities, too. Our capital Comrat just offers place for 90 tourists at the moment. Unfortunately we do not have the financial possibilities to invest in this sector.

You are a former military officer. Are you a strict Başkan?

Yes, I am an officer. A military man is never an ex. After all these years of serving, discipline and responsibility is in your blood and impossible to forget.

You are married with three children. Is there enough time left for the family?

My weekly schedule is organised in a military way. During the week I get up at 6 am and I work until midnight. Each Saturday morning my office is open to the public and all Gagauzians have the possibility to talk to me personally, in the afternoon I visit the managers of the big companies. On Sunday I make my plans for the following week. I definitely have too little time for my family, but my wife and my children are very understanding. At least we spend our holidays together in Antalya each year.

Apropos holidays: what is your dream holiday destination?

Thailand or India. I am sure that one day I am going to spend ma holidays there.

With which historical person would you like have a dinner?

With Liev Tolstoi, but I would prefer to have lunch with him.

Thank you for the interview!