Gagauz people

Gagauz people

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The Gagauz people are Turkic
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

  speaking group living mostly in southern Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 (Gagauzia
Gagauzia
Gagauzia , formally known as the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Găgăuzia , is an autonomous region of...

), southwestern Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (Budjak
Budjak
Budjak or Budzhak is a historical region in the Odessa Oblast of Ukraine. Lying along the Black Sea between the Danube and Dniester rivers this multiethnic region was the southern part of Bessarabia...

), south-eastern Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (Dobrogea) and northeastern Bulgaria. Unlike most other Turkic speaking people, the Gagauz are predominantly Orthodox Christians. There is a related ethnic group also called Gagavuz (or Gajal
Gajal
The Gajal or Gadzhal are a Turkic subgroup, closely related to the Gagauz. Their name derives from a common root...

) living in the European part of northwestern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Geographic distribution


Today Gagauz people outside Moldova live mainly in the Ukrainian regions of Odessa
Odessa Oblast
Odesa Oblast, also written as Odessa Oblast , is the southernmost and largest oblast of south-western Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Odessa.-History:...

 and Zaporizhia
Zaporizhia Oblast
Zaporizhia Oblast is an oblast of southern Ukraine. Its capital is Zaporizhia.This oblast is an important part of Ukraine's industry and agriculture.-Geography:...

, as well as in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and the Russian region of Kabardino-Balkaria
Kabardino-Balkaria
The Kabardino-Balkar Republic , or Kabardino-Balkaria , is a federal subject of Russia located in the North Caucasus. Population: -Geography:The republic is situated in the North Caucasus mountains, with plains in the northern part....

.

There are also nearly 20,000 descendants of Gagauzes living in the Balkan
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 countries of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, as well as upwards of 2,000 living in the United States of America, Brazil and Canada. Most of Gagauz immigrants in the USA are Evangelical Christians, who left their homeland in Moldova as refugees. They were persecuted by the communist government of the Soviet Union. Gagauz immigrants live in Sacramento, California; Salem, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Tacoma, Washington; Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and in Massachusetts. The official figures in the latter group of countries cited in this article are much lower due to the loss of Gagauz identity during the last century.

Etymology


The Encyclopedia of World cultures lists the ethnonym of the Gagauz as "Turkish speaking Bulgars" . Astrid Menz writes this about the etymology: "Older ethnographic works such as Pees (1894) and Jireček (1891)— both covering the Gagauz in Bulgaria—mention that only their neighbors used the ethnonymGa ga uz , partly as an insult. The Gagauz themselves did not use this self-designation; indeed, they considered it offensive. Both Pees and Jireček mention that the Gagauz in Bulgaria tended to register either as Greek because of their religion(clearly an outcome of the Ottomanmillet-system) or as Bulgarian because of the newly emerging concept of nationalism. According to Pees informants from Moldova, the Gagauz there called themselves Hıristiyan-Bulgar (Christian Bulgars), and Gagauz was used only as a nickname (Pees 1894, p. 90). The etymology of the ethnonym Gagauz is as unclear as their history. As noted above, they are not mentioned—at least not under that name—in any historical sources before their immigration into Bessarabia. Therefore, we have no older versions of this ethnonym. This, combined with the report that the Gagauz felt offended when called by this name, makes the etymology somewhat dubious. Nevertheless, a number of researchers and Gagauz intellectuals have proposed various explanations. Some of these explanations are obvious folk etymologies, and there is no consensus on any of them. Most proposals assume that the name contains the elementuz orguz , which they connect to the tribal nameOghuz. That leaves the elementga ga , which is supposed to be a tribal name of unknown origin. We also are faced with the problem that bothuz andghuz are designations for the Oghuz in Byzantine and Arabic sources, respectively—i.e., they are not self-designations. Some propose an elementa uz , which is supposed to have developed from Oghuz, thus leaving the elementga g, which is explained as having developed from gök, hak, ora k. All these explanations have serious problems with the historical development of Oghuzic phonetics and phonology. An alternative etymology was proposed by Wittek (1952), who believed that the Gagauz were the offspring of a group of Rum- Seljuks who surrendered to the Byzantine emperor; thus, he attributed the name to a leader of this group, the Seljuk prince Kaykaus. There are additional explanations of the nameGa ga uz, but most of them cannot be taken seriously and are clearly only superficial combinations—such as that of Jireček (cited after Pees 1984, p. 81), who suggests that the wordsga ga (beak) andus (straight) are supposed to mean “those who speak out as they think,” because the Gagauz like a good talk! Most of these explanations obviously are linked to the speculations about the ethnogenesis of the Gagauz. In connection with the etymological problem of the ethnonymGagauz, one should always keep in mind that this very name was first mentioned in written sources in the eighteenth century (Radova 1995, p. 268). Before that, they were recognized in Moldova as Turkish-speaking Bulgarians. The termGa ga uz probably was initially not a self- designation but rather a label given by neighboring ethnic groups. Both these facts tend to support the possibility of a non-Turkic etymological root. Today,Ga ga uz is a neutral ethnonym. Interestingly enough, however, since the 1980s—corresponding to the major political changes in Eastern Europe—some authors have started to change the ethnonymGa ga uz intoGa gavuz orGa go uz or even Gagoğuz5 (the latter despite the fact that the official alphabet does not contain the letterğ, the “soft g” of Turkish), thus making a statement about both the etymology of the word and the ethnogenesis of this people."

Language


The Gagauz language
Gagauz language
The Gagauz language is a Turkic language, spoken by the Gagauz people, and the official language of Gagauzia, Moldova. There are two dialects, Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi. This is a different language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish....

 belongs to the Oghuz
Oghuz languages
The Oghuz languages, a major branch of the Turkic language family, are spoken by more than 110 million people in an area spanning from the Balkans to China.-Linguistic features:...

 branch of the Turkic languages, which also includes the Azeri, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, and Turkmen
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

 languages. The Gagauz language is particularly close to the Balkan Turkish dialects spoken in Greece, northeastern Bulgaria, and in the Kumanovo and Bitola areas of Macedonia. The Balkan Turkic languages, including Gagauz, are a typologically interesting case, because they are closely related to Turkish and at the same time contain a North-Turkic (Tatar or Kypchak) element besides the main South-Turkic (Oghuz) element (Pokrovskaya,1964). The modern Gagauz language has two dialects: central (or ‘‘Bulgar’’) and southern (or maritime) (Pokrovskaya,
1964; Gordon, 2005).

Religion


Although the vast majority of the Gagauz are Orthodox Christian, a considerable number of them are Protestants. Gagauz has been deeply suspicious of Islamic religious activity ever since the Ottoman period. A proposal in 2011 to construct the first mosque in Moldova was met with a violent and harsh opposition from the Christian Gagauz, organized under the Union of Orthodox Christians of Bujak.

Society


"Subsistence and Commercial Activities: The traditional economy centered on animal husbandry, particularly sheep raising, and agriculture that combined growing grain and truck farming with viticulture. Even in the recent past, despite the cultural similarity of the Gagauz to the Bulgars of Bessarabia, there were important differences between them: the Bulgars were peasant farmers; although the Gagauz also farmed, they were essentially pastoralists in outlook."

"Food: Many traces of their nomadic past may be found in the cuisine of the sedentary Gagauz, such as a special way of processing milk and the preservation of meat, curds, and sheep's milk cheese in a skin. The staple food is grain, in many varieties. A series of family holidays and rituals was connected with the baking of bread, wheat loaves (kalaches ) and unleavened flatcakes."

"The favorite dish was a layered pie stuffed with sheep's milk cheese and doused with sour cream before baking. Other delicacies were pies with crumbled pumpkin and sweet pies made with the first milk of a cow that had just calved. The traditional ritual dish called kurban combined wheat porridge (bulgar wheat) with a slaughtered ("sacrificed") ram and is further evidence of the origins of the Gagauz in both the Balkan world and the steppe-pastoral complex. A special place in the cuisine is occupied by peppered sauces for meat; one combines onion and finely granulated porridge; another is tomato-based. A red house wine is served with dinner and supper. An indispensable component in holiday meals is meat in jelly prepared from the heads and feet of livestock (head cheese)."

"Clothing: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a Gagauz woman's costume consisted of a canvas shirt, a sleeveless dress, a smock, and a large black kerchief; in winter, they donned a dress with sleeves, a cloth jacket, and a sleeveless fur coat. Required features of female dress were earrings, bracelets, beads, and, among wealthy Gagauz, a necklace of gold coins. "So many of their decorations are hung about," wrote a pre-Revolutionary researcher, "that they cover the entire breast down to the waist.""

"Traditional male clothing included a shirt, cloth pants, a wide red sash or belt, and, in the summer, a hat; the winter cap was made of Kanakul sheep wool. The shepherd's costume was the usual shirt combined with sheepskin pants with the fleece turned in, a sleeveless fur coat, and a short sheepskin jacket, the latter sometimes decorated with red-on-green stitching."

Origin


The origin of the Gagauzes is obscure. In the beginning of the 20th century the Bulgarian historian M.Dimitrov counts 19 different theories about their origin. A few decades later the Gagauz ethnologist M.N.Guboglo increases the number to 21. In some of those theories the Gagauz people are presented as descendants of the Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 or a clan of Seljuk Turks or as linguistically Turkified Bulgarians. The fact that their confession is East Orthodox Christianity suggest that their ancestors already lived in the Balkans prior the Ottoman conquest in the late 14th century.

Seljuk (Anatolian) hypothesis


According to the Seljuk theory, supported by the Polish orientalist T. Kowalski the Gagauz descended from the Seljuk
Seljuq dynasty
The Seljuq ; were a Turco-Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries...

 Turks
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 who in the 13th century followed the Anatolian Seljuk Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 Kaykaus II
Kaykaus II
Kaykaus II or Kayka'us II was the eldest of three sons of Kaykhusraw II. He was a youth at the time of his father’s death in 1246 and could do little to prevent the Mongol subjugation of Anatolia. For most of his tenure as the Seljuq Sultan of Rûm, he shared the throne with one or both of his...

 (1236–1276) and supposedly settled in the Dobruja
Dobruja
Dobruja is a historical region shared by Bulgaria and Romania, located between the lower Danube river and the Black Sea, including the Danube Delta, Romanian coast and the northernmost part of the Bulgarian coast...

 region of the medieval Bulgarian kingdom. There they presumably mixed with other Turkic peoples such as Pechenegs, Uz (Oghuz
Oghuz Turks
The Turkomen also known as Oghuz Turks were a historical Turkic tribal confederation in Central Asia during the early medieval Turkic expansion....

) and Cuman
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

 (Kipchak
Kipchaks
Kipchaks were a Turkic tribal confederation...

) who came from the Russian steppe at about the same time. After settling in the eastern Balkans (Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

) this Seljuks are thought to have converted from Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 to Orthodox Christianity
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 in the 13th century and later became known as "Gagauz".

In fact Kaykaus is known to have finally settled in Crimea. The supporters of the Seljuk theory claim that the term Gagauz came from the name of Sultan Kaykaus II and therefore it is an ancient tribal name, confirming that the Gagauz were originally Turkic people and not linguistically Turkified Bulgarians. Another explanation is that the ethnonym means straight-nosed (from gaga - nose and uz - straight). Therefore Gagauz means straight-nosed Christian Turks in opposition to the curved-nosed Ottoman
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 Muslim Turks. Some interpret Gagauz as derivative of Gök Oğuz - "Heavenly Oghuz
Oghuz Turks
The Turkomen also known as Oghuz Turks were a historical Turkic tribal confederation in Central Asia during the early medieval Turkic expansion....

" (from Turkish Gök - sky, heaven and Oğuz - branch of Turkic people).

Steppe hypothesis


The ‘‘Steppe’’ hypothesis suggestes that the Gagauzes may be descendants of the Turkic nomadic tribes (Bulgars and Cumans) from the Eurasian steppes. In 19th century, before their migration to Bessarabia, the Gagauzes from the Bulgarian lands (then in Ottoman Turkey) considered themselves Bulgarians. Ethnological research suggest that "Gagauz" was a linguistic distinction and not ethnic. Gagauzes at that time called themselves "Hasli Bulgar" (True Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

) or "Eski Bulgar" (Old Bulgars) and considered the term "Gagauz" applied to them by the Slavic-speaking Bulgarians (who they called "toukan") demeaning. The Gagauzes called their language Turkish and accordingly claimed descent from early Turkic Bulgars who in the 7th century established the Bulgarian state on Danube. Now many Gagauz in Moldova claim Seljuk-Turkish descent. The Gagauz in Bulgaria do not support that view.

The 1897 Russian Census did not distinguish the Gagauz as a specific group, but it reported the existence of 55,790 native speakers of a "Turkish language" (presumably, the Gagauz language) in the Bessarabia Governorate
Bessarabia Governorate
Bessarabia was an oblast and later a guberniya in the Russian Empire. It was the eastern part of the Principality of Moldavia annexed by Russia by the Treaty of Bucharest following the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812...

.

Genetics


In population comparisons, the Gagauzes were found to be more closely related genetically to neighboring southeastern European
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

 groups than to linguistically related Anatolian
Anatolian languages
The Anatolian languages comprise a group of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor, the best attested of them being the Hittite language.-Origins:...

 populations. More considerable distinctions in the distribution of Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 components appeared between the Gagauzes and other Turkic peoples
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

.

The similarity to neighboring populations may be due to the lack of social barriers between the local and the Turkic-Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 populations of the Balkan Peninsula. Thus, the ongoing intensive reciprocal gene flow was accompanied by the gradual dissolution of the Asiatic genetic component. Another possibility is language shift
Language shift
Language shift, sometimes referred to as language transfer or language replacement or assimilation, is the progressive process whereby a speech community of a language shifts to speaking another language. The rate of assimilation is the percentage of individuals with a given mother tongue who speak...

 in accordance with the elite
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

 dominance
Dominance
Dominance may refer to:* Dominance , an aspect of virtual inheritance in the C++ programming language* Dominance , in economics, the degree of inequality in market share distribution...

 model, i.e., Turkification
Turkification
Turkification is a term used to describe a process of cultural or political change in which something or someone who is not a Turk becomes one, voluntarily or involuntarily...

.

Nevertheless, Gagauz people were found to have a higher proportion of Near Eastern DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 lineages (source needed). This fact agrees with the historically documented information on the migration of the Gagauzes to the Southern Bessarabia from the territory of the Balkan Peninsula. Genetic findings testify to the emergence of the Near Eastern lineages in the Gagauz at the entry of the Seljuk Turks into the Balkans.

After a genetic comparison with populations of Balkans, Anatolia, and Central Asia, results showed that Gagauz are part of the Balkan genetic group.

Late history


It is historically documented that the Gagauzes migrated to Bessarabia from northeastern Bulgaria
(Dobruja) in the beginning of the 19th century fleeing from political and religious oppression by the Ottoman Turks. However, very little is known about their previous history. Turkic-speaking tribes of the Nogai Horde
Nogai Horde
The Nogai Horde was a confederation of about eighteen Turkic and Mongol tribes that occupied the Pontic-Caspian steppe from about 1500 until they were pushed west by the Kalmyks and south by the Russians in the 17th century. The Mongol tribe called the Manghits constituted a core of the Horde...

 inhabited the Budjak
Budjak
Budjak or Budzhak is a historical region in the Odessa Oblast of Ukraine. Lying along the Black Sea between the Danube and Dniester rivers this multiethnic region was the southern part of Bessarabia...

 region of southern Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Before 1807, a portion of these tribes were forced to abandon the Budjak by the Tsarist government of Russia, resettling in Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

, Azov
Azov
-External links:** *...

 and Stavropol
Stavropol Krai
Stavropol Krai is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Stavropol. Population: -Geography:Stavropol Krai encompasses the central part of the Fore-Caucasus and most of the northern slopes of Caucasus Major...

. Soon after they were replaced by other Turkic-speaking people which later came to be known as the Gagauz. Most if not all Gagauz people who now live in Moldova, came to Bessarabia from Bulgaria (then in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

) after the Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812). This fact is well documented in the Russian tsarist archives. They settled alongside Slavic-speaking Bulgarian who emigrated at the same time and often married them.

Between 1820 and 1846, the Russian Empire allocated land to the Gagauz and gave them financial incentives to settle in Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 in the settlements vacated by the Nogai
Nogais
The Nogai people are a Turkic ethnic group in Southern Russia: northern Dagestan and Stavropol Krai, as well as in Karachay-Cherkessia and the Astrakhan Oblast; undefined number live in Chechnya...

 tribes. They settled in Bessarabia along with Bulgarians, mainly in Avdarma
Avdarma
Avdarma is a commune and village in the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit of the Republic of Moldova. The 2004 census listed the commune as having a population of 3,564 people. Gagauz total 3,356. Minorities included 42 Moldovans, 47 Russians, 43 Ukrainians, 32 Bulgarians, and 25 Roma.Avdarma's...

, Comrat
Comrat
Comrat is a city in Moldova and the capital of the autonomous region of Gagauzia. It is located at , in the south of the country, on the Ialpug River. In 2004, Comrat's population was 23,429, of which the vast majority are Gagauzians.The name is of Turkic and Nogai origin...

 (or Komrat), Congaz
Congaz
Congaz is a commune and village in the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit of the Republic of Moldova. The 2004 census listed the commune as having a population of 12,327 people. Gagauz total 11,849...

 (Kongaz), Tomai
Tomai, Gagauzia
Tomai is a commune and village in the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit of the Republic of Moldova. The 2004 census listed the commune as having a population of 5,014 people. 4,767 of the village residents were Gagauz...

, Cismichioi
Cişmichioi
Cişmichioi is a commune and village in the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit of the Republic of Moldova. The 2004 census listed the commune as having a population of 5,054 people. 4,772 inhabitants are Gagauz. Minorities included 43 Russians, 39 Ukrainians, 25 Bulgarians and 115 Moldovans. The...

 and other former Nogai villages located in the central Budjak
Budjak
Budjak or Budzhak is a historical region in the Odessa Oblast of Ukraine. Lying along the Black Sea between the Danube and Dniester rivers this multiethnic region was the southern part of Bessarabia...

 region. Originally, the Gagauz also settled in several villages belonging to boyars throughout southern Bessarabia and the Principality of Moldavia, but soon moved to join their kin in the Bugeac. Until 1869, the Gagauz in Bessarabia were described as Bulgarians. During the Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n rule of southernmost Bessarabia (1856–1878), they supported Bulgarian schools in their settlements and participated in the Bulgarian national movement. Therefore some ethnologists (Karel Škorpil
Karel Škorpil
Karel Václav Škorpil was a Czech-Bulgarian archaeologist and museum worker credited along with his brother Hermann with the establishment of those two disciplines in Bulgaria....

, Gavril Zanetov, Benyo Tsonev) claim Bulgarian origin for the Gagauz.

With the exception of a five-day independence in the winter of 1906, when a peasant uprising declared the autonomous Republic of Komrat, the Gagauzian people have mainly been ruled by the Russian Empire, Romania, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

.

The wave of Stolypin agrarian politics carried some Gagauz to Kazakhstan between 1912 and 1914, and later yet another group settled in Uzbekistan during the very troubled years of initial collectivization. So as not to lose their civil rights, they called themselves "Bulgars" in the 1930s; The Gagauz of the village of Mayslerge in the Tarhkent District retain that designation to this day.

Soviet Union and Republic of Moldova


Gagauz nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 remained an intellectual movement during the 1980s but strengthened by the end of the decade as the Soviet Union began to embrace liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 ideals. In 1988, activists from the local intelligentsia
Intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

 aligned with other ethnic minorities to create the movement known as the "Gagauz People" (Gagauz Turkish: Gagavz halki). A year later, the "Gagauz People" held its first assembly which accepted the resolution to create an autonomous territory in the southern Moldavian SSR
Moldavian SSR
The Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic , commonly abbreviated to Moldavian SSR or MSSR, was one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union...

, with Comrat designated as capital. The Gagauz nationalist movement increased in popularity when Moldovan
Moldovan language
Moldovan is one of the names of the Romanian language as spoken in the Republic of Moldova, where it is official. The spoken language of Moldova is closer to the dialects of Romanian spoken in northeastern Romania, and the two countries share the same literary standard...

 (Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

) was accepted as the official language of the Republic of Moldova in August 1989. The minorities of southern Moldova – Gagauz, Bulgars, and Russians – looked on this decision with concern, precipitating a lack of confidence in the central government located in Chişinău
Chisinau
Chișinău is the capital and largest municipality of Moldova. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîc...

. The Moldavian population regarded Gagauz demands with suspicion, convinced they were acting as puppets of forces that wanted to preserve the Soviet Union.

In August 1990, Comrat declared itself an autonomous republic, but the Moldovan government annulled the declaration as unconstitutional. The Gagauz were also worried about the implications for them if Moldova reunited with Romania, as seemed increasingly likely. Support for the Soviet Union remained high, with a local referendum in March 1991 yielding an almost unanimous "yes" vote to stay in the USSR; Moldovans in Gagauzia, however, boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

ed the referendum. Many Gagauz supported the Moscow coup attempt
Soviet coup attempt of 1991
The 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt , also known as the August Putsch or August Coup , was an attempt by a group of members of the Soviet Union's government to take control of the country from Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev...

, further straining relations with Chişinău. However, when the Moldovan parliament
Parliament of the Republic of Moldova
The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova is a unicameral assembly with 101 seats. Its members are elected by popular vote every 4 years. The parliament then elects a president, who functions as the head of state...

 voted on whether Moldova should become independent, six of the twelve Gagauz deputies voted in favor.


Gagauzia
Gagauzia
Gagauzia , formally known as the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Găgăuzia , is an autonomous region of...

 declared itself independent on 19 August 1991 – the day of the Moscow coup attempt – followed by Transnistria
Transnistria
Transnistria is a breakaway territory located mostly on a strip of land between the Dniester River and the eastern Moldovan border to Ukraine...

 in September. Some believe that these moves prompted the nationalist Moldovan Popular Front to tone down its pro-Romanian line and speak up for the rights of minorities. In February 1994, President
President of the Republic of Moldova
The President of the Republic of Moldova is the head of state of Moldova.-Description of the post:According to the Article 77 of the Constitution of Moldova , the President of Moldova is the head of the State and represents the State and is the guarantor of national sovereignty, independence, of...

 Mircea Snegur
Mircea Snegur
Mircea Ion Snegur was the first President of Moldova 1990-1996. Before that he was Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet 1989-1990 and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 27 April to 3 September 1990...

, opposed to Gaugauz independence, promised a Gaugauz autonomous region
Autonomous area
An autonomous area or autonomous entity is an area of a country that has a degree of autonomy, or freedom from an external authority. Typically it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the country or populated by a national minority. Countries that include autonomous areas are often...

. Snegur also opposed the suggestion that Moldova become a federal state
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 made up of three "republics": Moldova, Gagauzia, and Transnistria. This was the plan promoted by those wishing to rehabilitate the former Soviet Union. In 1994, the Moldovan parliament awarded "the people of Gagauzia" the right of "external self-determination" should the status of the country change. This means that in the event -and only in that event- that Moldova decided to join another country (by all accounts this is referred to Romania), the Gagauzians would be entitled to decide whether to remain or not a part of the new state by means of a self determination referendum

On December 23, 1994, the Moldovan parliament produced a peaceful resolution to the dispute by passing the "Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia" (Gagauz Yeri). Gagauzia became a "national-territorial autonomous unit" with three official languages – Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, Gagauz
Gagauz language
The Gagauz language is a Turkic language, spoken by the Gagauz people, and the official language of Gagauzia, Moldova. There are two dialects, Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi. This is a different language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish....

 and Moldovan/Romanian – and the date is now a Gagauzian holiday. Many European human-rights organizations recognize Gagauzia as a successful model for resolving ethnic conflict.

As a result of a referendum to determine Gagauzia's borders, thirty settlements (three towns and twenty-seven villages) expressed their desire to be included in the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit. In 1995, George Tabunshik was elected to serve as the Governor (Bashkan) of Gagauzia for a four year term, as were the deputies of the local parliament, "The People's Assembly" (Halk Topluşu) and its chairman Peter Pashali.

"The prospects for the survival of the Gagauz national culture and the existence of the Gagauz as an independent people are tenuous. They have the lowest ratio of persons with a higher education in Moldova, a virtual absence of an artistic intelligentsia, a very weak scientific intelligentsia, and an acute lack of intellectuals in general. In 1989 less than half as many Gagauz were admitted to the state university and the polytechnical institute as in 1918. Accordingly, the Gagauz are weakly represented in administration, the professions, and the service industries. There is an acute shortage of building materials, and the environment is in a state of crisis. Analysis of this situation led to the Gagauz movement for national regeneration. On 12 November 1989 an extraordinary session of representatives to the Moldavian Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of a Gagauz ASSR within the Moldavian SSR. Three days later, however, the presidium of the Moldavian Supreme Soviet failed to confirm this decision, thus trampling on the principle of national self-determination of the Communist party of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the Moldavian press opened a campaign of anti-Gagauz propaganda. Despite a series of declarations about a renaissance of the Gagauz, the absence of the necessary conditions, including national-territorial autonomy, will make their realization difficult, and the people appear doomed to assimilation".

See also

  • Conflict in Transnistria and Gagauzia
  • Karamanlides
    Karamanlides
    The Karamanlides , or simply Karamanlis, are a Greek Orthodox, Turkish-speaking people native to the Karaman and Cappadocia regions of Anatolia...

  • Gagauzia
    Gagauzia
    Gagauzia , formally known as the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Găgăuzia , is an autonomous region of...

  • Gagauz language
    Gagauz language
    The Gagauz language is a Turkic language, spoken by the Gagauz people, and the official language of Gagauzia, Moldova. There are two dialects, Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi. This is a different language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish....

  • Pechenegs
  • Gagauz Khalky

Bulgarian