By: The PH Team
Gagauzia, once an unrecognized country, is now an autonomous region of Moldova. In December 1994, Gagauzia and Moldova agreed on a "Special Status" for the previous unrecognized Gagauz Republic. It became the first autonomous ethnic enclave to achieve such recognition in all of post-communist Eastern Europe.
This led to the adoption of a revised flag, in its current form, with the nickname "Sky Flag" and was favored over the wolf symbol present in the previous flag.
The 'grey wolf' on the previous flag of Gagauzia was seen as associated with the far-right of Pan-Turkism, of which the Gagauz people are ethnically related to. Since the year 2000, the wolf symbol has been quietly taken out of the public eye and State imagery.
Gagauzia's flag and symbolism remains central to the dispute between Romanian nationalists in Moldova (which they share ethnic, historical and linguistic ties to) and those in Gagauzia who fear a potential unification of Moldova with Romania.
The flag of Gagauzia has served as an official symbol of Gagauzia since its unification in 1995, and is recognized as a regional symbol by the Republic of Moldova.
Commonly known as the "Sky Flag", it depicts three yellow stars arranged in a triangular pattern on a blue, white and red background.
The overall symbolism of the flag is debated however. It is said that the stars may represent the three Gagauz municipalities of Moldova. In addition, the colors of the flag are similar to the current Russian flag, which maintains popular support in Gagauzia.
The colors of the Gagauz flag have also been said to represent the ancestry of Gagauz people. In this interpretation of the flag, each color represents an ancestral contributor to the Gagauz people.
The issues of Soviet nostalgia and a common pro-Russian stance of the Gagauz people has created friction between Gagauz and Moldovan politicians since its unification with Moldova.
Although the region has officially adopted one flag, several ethnic and semi-official flags were recorded for Gagauz separatists during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, mostly featuring the Turkic 'grey wolf.'
The world symbol hit its peak of popularity however during the years of the unrecognized Gagauz Republic, which adopted such symbolism in various forms, including on its flag.
In 2017, Governor Irina Vlah proposed the introduction of a Gagauz flag bearing the wolf's head in red as an 'historical flag' with a loose form of official status.
He also explained that if adopted, the resolution would not replace the current and official "Sky Flag" of Gagauzia.
The flag portraying a grey wolf was most notably in use under the unrecognized Gagauz Republic, between 1990 - 1995.
According to reports at the time, the wolf and its related imagery are not related to far-right Turkic nationalism, but rather represent "a myth of the Gagauz people's founding, when a wolf led the Gagauz people to freedom."
The wolf's head has also been related to another Gagauz tradition. Local folklore describes that of 'nine mourners' or 'nine wolves' guarding the Gagauz nation. While other researchers have claimed that the ancient Gagauz flag displayed a wolf on a green field.
Today, although surrounded by much controversy on both sides, the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia has only one official flag - the Sky Flag of Gagauzia.