Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
May 29 2008


New Transnistria precedent - ANALYTICS

[ 29 May 2008 13:08 ]

New model may be formed on settlement of frozen conflicts

Bucharest. Dr. Fakhri Karimli-APA. All the conflicts inherited from
the former USSR are in the area of GUAM member states: Abkhazia, South
Ossetia (Georgia), Nagorno Karabakh (Azerbaijan) and Transdnestria
(Moldova). They are also called `frozen conflicts'. But it seems if
the developments go on like this, we will soon witness `melting' of
the latter.

Chairman of Moldova's parliament Marian Lupu met with his counterpart
from `Transnistria Republic of Moldova' Yevgeny Shevchuk in Brussels
on May 14. They decided to restore the discussions on Transnistrian
conflict as soon as possible. They discussed free travel of people
along both banks of the Dniester and mutual confidence-building
measures. The meeting on this level was last held seven years
ago. Shevchuk's visit to Brussels is also interesting from other
aspect, he is the first separatist leader to enter the area of EU
member states, after Moldova asked the European Union to lift the
travel ban off the Transnistria leaders.

The travel ban was lifted after the meeting between the President of
Moldova Vladimir Voronin Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov in Bendery
(Tighina) on April 14. In exchange for this, Igor Smirnov allowed
travel of Moldovan official in the separatist republic. They decided
to continue these contacts and dialogue on the level of
commissions. The last meeting on this level was held in August,
2001,later the situation became tense after Moldova imposed political
and economic blockade on Transnistria with the help of Ukraine and the
process of negotiations in the format 5+2 (USA< Russia, Ukraine,
European Union, OSCE + Moldova) was suspended. Voronin was even not
allowed to attend the burial of his mother, who had been from
Transnistria.

`Today Moldova is close to the peaceful solution of the Transnistrian
conflict whenever it was', said President Vladimir Voronin at the XV
meeting of Central European leaders in Ohrid, Macedonia on May 6. `My
country is looking forward for the sustainable solution of this
conflict only within the `5+2' format and it can be an example of
peaceful solution of frozen conflict within the independence,
sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country'. Moldovan
foreign minister Andrei Stratan shared the president's optimism.
`Moldova believes in the solution of Transnistrian conflict by the end
of the year'. It is clear that EU leads the peace process formally and
the initiative comes from Russia. Russia is playing this role not for
the first time. Russian Kozak plan, promoted by the Russian envoy
Dmitriy Kozak was rejected by the Moldovan president just before its
signing in 2003 and even Russian president Vladimir Putin returned
home from the airport. Afterwards Russian-Moldovan relations worsened
sharply and Russia banned import of Moldovan wines. Details of current
peace plan are not clear as Kozak plan, but it is clear that essence
in both documents was not changed. The question is that Moldovan
refusal of NATO integration and GUAM membership and Russian guarantee
for the Moldovan territorial integrity instead of presence of Russian
troops in Transnistrian region. It means that Moldova receives back
the Transnistrian region and enters to the Russian political orbit.

In a word, Russia began to implement new tactic on the frozen
conflicts after the Kosovo experience. Moscow is planning to control
not the separatist region, but entire country. It is not new tactic in
fact. When Moscow and Kiev disputed over the Black Sea fleet after
USSR collapse, Russia curbed separatist mood of local Russian-speaking
population and preferred to make Ukraine its political hostage instead
it. It resulted with the Crimean autonomous status and turning of
Sevastopol, the base of Black Sea fleet, into the special
territorial-administrative unit. Now Russia tries to get second Serbia
in the Eastern Europe at Moldova's cost.

Transnistrian conflict was always evaluated as more prospective than
other conflicts, because it has no ethnic character and there are no
sharp confrontation between the sides and ethnic cleansing and the
conflict resulted with killing of few number of peoples (1000
people). Transnistrian is populated with the relative majority of
Moldavians. Transnistrian cars and residents are frequently seen in
the Chisinau, who travel to Europe with Moldovan passports. There is
experience of peaceful solution of Gagauz conflict in 1995, which
resulted with the autonomous status of Gagauzian Republic. Moldova has
been the agrarian country since the Soviet period and Transnistria is
a decisive region for the country because more than half of industrial
capacity of the country was located in this region as a result of
intentional policy of USSR. Uniting with Moldova opens for
Transnistria prospects of EU integration from the enclave. EU leaders
repeated for many times that EU would sponsor unification process in
Moldova.

Moldova faced difficult choice, though it can be a new precedent. Igor
Smirnov, current President of Transnistria has presented draft
agreement on cooperation and friendship between Moldova and
Transnistria Moldavian Republic during the meeting in Bendery. The
agreement covers equal status of the two sides, their bilateral
sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in domestic
affairs. The conflict can be solved within the framework of
international legal norms and political-economical realities. Moldova
should refuse inheritance over Transnistria. Moldova and Transnistria
can become federative state basing on horizontal relations. Separatist
leaders should take important posts in central authorities, Moldova
should declare its neutralism, pay $1.5 billion-debt of Transdniestr
to Gazprom and parties and people of separatist region should
participate in parliamentarian elections in 2009.

Current developments have reached to decisive stage: establishment of
new Transnistria precedent or repetition of old Kozak experience will
depend on directions of developments.