February 1, 2001
Of most immediate concern is the concept of collective rights and the impact that their recognition may have on prospects for resolving the ancient ethnic conflicts whose violent reappearance has marred the region's post-communist transformation. While the Transdniester conflict is not directly associated with this issue, the Gagauz situation represents a textbook example of how autonomy based on ethnicity can have a positive impact on ethnic conflict.
Phrased in academic terms, the question is this: will the interests of the people of Moldova, Gagauzia, and Transdniestria be best served by a confederation or by a federal union? For the former USSR, with its mixture of ethnic confrontations, the answer to this dilemma is of special relevance. Given those circumstances, it is likely that the eventual answer will come within the context of political dictates rather than scholarly speculation.
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