The decision by Brussels to start negotiations for Moldova's accession to the EU has sparked considerable resonance and extensive discussion. While the Ukrainian people are defending their

right to a European life with arms in hand, the situation in Moldova differs significantly. Some experts note that the commencement of EU accession talks might be seen merely as an opportunity for Moldova to join the EU "just for the sake of joining." In this scenario, Chisinau must actively prove that this isn't the case and that Moldova is deserving of becoming a member of the European community.

On December 19, at the Brussels Press Club, an event addressing this issue aimed to clarify the situation. Yevgenia Gutsul (pictured above), the leader of one of Moldova's leading regions, Gagauzia, spoke about the country's challenges, its stance on press freedom, and the democracy development processes in the regions. Attendees learned more about the culture, language, and traditions of Gagauzia—a southern Moldovan region predominantly inhabited by a Turkic-speaking population.

Thanks to the engaging moderation led by the Chair of the Press Club's Board of Directors, Сhaterine Feore, the event flowed seamlessly. Journalists asked questions about the Gagauzia region, the state of affairs in the Republic of Moldova, and were shown a film about the history of Gagauzia and the current political situation.

Yevgenia Gutsul swiftly rose to the political summit in Moldova. Not being a public figure and representing the opposition party, she won the election for the head of Gagauzia's autonomy. Gutsul has close ties with Ankara and conducted a visit to the Turkish Republic with several dozen representatives from business and political circles.

"I am very grateful to our Turkish brothers and sisters for their support in the struggle for the autonomy and the rights of our people clearly outlined in the Moldovan Constitution. Gagauz people are part of the united family of Turkic nations, and we have agreed on deeper cooperation. My counterparts assured the people of Gagauzia that they would provide all possible support for our region's socio-economic and cultural development, preserving and strengthening the position of our language", the politician said.

"With one of the major investors in infrastructure projects, we discussed the readiness to build a modern airport in Gagauzia, estimated at around 200 million euros. This is a highly significant project. The airport will become a hub between East and West, opening new opportunities for Moldovan businessmen to interact with colleagues from Turkey, the UAE, and other regional countries. Ultimately, all this will positively impact Gagauzia's economy," she added.

Journalists inquired of the head of Gagauzia whether the Moldovan authorities could eliminate the autonomy. Is there a threat to the elimination of Gagauz autonomy? To this, Yevgenia Gutsul replied:

"This is a very sensitive issue for the people of Gagauzia, especially now, when there are forces in power at the national level that are hostile towards the autonomy.

The special legal status of Gagauzia is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova. Amendments to the Constitution require at least two-thirds of the votes from Parliament deputies. Currently, the ruling party does not have that number of votes.

We are concerned that by pressuring and blackmailing other opposition forces represented in Parliament, the ruling party might gather the lacking votes and introduce amendments to the Constitution. But we will not allow that".