NEW TRANSNISTRIA PRECEDENT - ANALYTICS

Azeri Press Agency
May 29 2008
Azerbaijan

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.