Passport Rank 2014: Balkans

July 11, 2014

 

Free movement is one fundamental human rights not only in one’s own country but also abroad. Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. They reflect also the relationships between individual nations as well the status of a country within the international community of nations. The main travel document is passport. Citizenship documented in passport regulates the level of free movement over borders; holder of one passport can travel relatively free around the globe while the choices of the holder of other passport are very limited. So passports can be ranked according to the visa-free access their holders.

Visa restrictions change according to the political situation at any given time. For example some 20 years ago citizens of Yugoslavia could travel relatively free, but the breakup wars changed situation completely. The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. For ordinary people freedom of movement might be the main carrot after nearly 20 years of isolation.

My Passport Rank table below ranks passports according to how many countries it gives visa-free access. To table I have collected the Balkan countries and for comparison the best and the worst positions. I have also indicated the change during last two years describing to how many countries more the passport gives visa-free access compared to situation on 2012. As source I have used the data published in “The Henley Visa Restrictions Index”. (Source and more about H&P please visit in their homepage )

And here is my ”Passport Rank 2014: Balkans”:

Passport Rank 2014 – Balkans by Ari Rusila
Rank Passport of country Visa free access tocountries 2014/2012

+o-

1 Finland, Sweden, UK 173 +3-4
4 Denmark, Germany, USA, Luxemburg 172 +3-6
8 Belgium, Italy, Netherlands 171 +3-4
21 Greece 167 +3
31 Slovenia 155 +4
46 Bulgaria, Romania 141 +3-4
59 Croatia 129 +10
71 Serbia 104 +5
72 Macedonia (FYR) 103 +6
74 Montenegro 98 +4
80 Bosnia-Herzegovina 91 +4
81 Albania 88 +4
189 Kosovo 38 +1
197 Pakistan, Somalia 32 +1-4
199 Iraq 31 +1
200 Afghanistan 28 +2

To travel from one country to other is a fundamental freedom restricted however more or less depending about which passport the traveler holds. Generally speaking the freedom of movement has increased a lot globally as well in Balkans. Apart that I would like to point out some trivia. The new Kosovo passport, first issued by the Kosovo Government in July 2008, is still one of the least useful travel documents ever designed. Passports for example from North Korea, Myanmar, Yemen and Syria are more valid than Kosovo passport as well one from the newest countries – South Sudan.

Some half of UN member states was fooled or pressured on for recognize Kosovo’s second declaration of independence, but Kosovo passport gives visa-free access only to less than 40 countries. On the other hand Taiwan ( also UN outsider) has diplomatic relations with 23 countries but its passport holders can travel visa free to 130 countries. In Europe only Pridnestrovie – aka Transdniestria aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – may be a country which passport has less use abroad than Kosovo passport as no country has recognised its independence. From the bright side now the majority of former Kosovo Serbs can have visa-free travel abroad as they are residing in Serbia because they could not return to their homes in Kosovo after ethnic cleansing made by Kosovo Albanians on 1999 and 2004. (My view about Kosovo in my articleCaptured Pseudo-State Kosovo)

Passport is not only travel document – it has also its wider political and business aspects. For example Romania distributes its passports to its Moldovan neighbours (rank 138) so that they can travel easier e.g in EU. Russia (rank 75) gives easily passports to Ukrainians (rank 96) to make stronger ties with Russian-speaking population abroad. During Balkan wars it was also quite popular to give Bosnian passports to foreign Muslim-fighters or Jihadists (and later leading al Qaeda figures) for their support in civil war.

It is estimated that that every year, several thousand people spend a collective $2 bn ( €1.5bn) to add a second, or even third, passport to their collection. Those with money can select from half a dozen countries offering a direct citizenship-by-investment route with no residency requirements. The cheapest deal for citizenship is on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica (rank 83) where for an investment of $100,000 plus various fees, as well as an in-person interview on the island, citizenship can be bought. In better ranking Cyprus (rank 38) the costs are between €2-5 million depending program. Last year the government of Malta announced proposals to start selling citizenship of its nation to foreigners for €650,000, however after EU pressure applicants will now be required to spend at least a year in Malta in order to qualify. Several European Union countries – e.g UK, Spain, Belgium – or USA do not offer citizenship for purchase outright, but do offer residence permits to wealthy individuals; that include free movement within the Schengen area, in exchange for high fees and the requirement to invest in the country.


The passport rank shows also one peculiarity related to international aid and development. In Balkans besides Kosovo also Bosnia-Herzegovina together with Albania have the worst scores despite the fact that EU and international community have guided and supervised these regions towards “European standards” nearly twenty years with huge state- and capasity building measures and billions of bucks. So has EU failed with this task as those countries without outside supervision are getting visa-freedom earlier?

One could also conclude or claim that the EU is isolating three mainly Muslim European states/regions – Albania, BiH and Kosovo – and Turkey (rank 76, visa-free access to 94 countries) as some in the EU fear the presence of such a large, Muslim community inside traditionally Christian Europe. Of course EU denies political aspects and highlights only the technical ones but from Balkan perspective the impression can differ.


Pridnestrovie in Context of Ukraine

March 29, 2014

Transdniestria flag

Prologue

Transnistrian claim for independence is being met with a certain degree of sympathy and understanding by some of the western experts. As an example, a Finnish political analyst and blogger Ari Rusila can be named; he usually presents the Transnistrian de facto statehood in quite a positive light, admitting, in particular, that “Transnistria called my attention first because of its quite ready statehood elements without outside recognition, second because of changed circumstances in respect for international law after Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence and thirdly because I predicted that Trandnistria could be the next tinderbox of separatism between Georgian conflict and coming troubles in Ukraine”. He believes that Transnistria, if compared with Kosovo, has had in fact much more reasons to be recognised internationally.


The quote above is from a paper Transnistrian Conflict: State of Affairs and Prospects of Settlement  prepared for the International conference “Frozen Conflicts” in Europe (1st September 2012, Bled, Slovenia) by Natalia Belitser and the sitation is based on my articles published in 2008.
Transdniestria
Pridnestrovie as next Crimea?


As the crisis in Ukraine continues to simmer, tensions in the country’s western neighbor Moldova are beginning to rise. Seeking to capitalize on President Putin’s eagerness to use the protection of Russian speaking populations in the region as a pretext to expand his territorial claims, members of two separate enclaves in Moldova are looking toward Moscow for protection.


Now after uprising and coup in Ukraine and annexing Crimea into Russia, tensions have grown to encompass Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, which like Ukraine has been making efforts to integrate further with the West. Moldova has signed the EU association and free trade agreements at the November 2013 Vilnius summit, during which former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich rejected the deals. The Moldovan government has also supported the Western-backed uprising in Ukraine. Western experts worry that the next “Crimea” could be the breakaway region of Pridnestrovie. Many locals there don’t share that fear, and if the last referendum holds, a large majority would welcome a Russian annexation.


Pridnestrovie aka Transdniestria – also known as Transnistria aka  Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR/TMR) – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. The official language of Transdniestria is Russian, not Moldovan, while the vast Majority of schools teach the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Roman alphabet used in the rest of the country. Recently  Pridnestrovie adopted Russian legislation, a clear signal of the region’s preference for joining Moscow’s customs union.

Most recently, Russian military exercises held March 25 in Moldova’s breakaway territory of Pridnestrovie have stoked these tensions. From its side the parliament (called Supreme Soviet) of Pridnestrovie has sent a proposal to the State Duma asking for in Russian legislation to join the breakaway Republic in Russia. The document originated in the DG as feedback on refering new draft law in Russia on the simplified order of joining the Russian federation new actors on the basis of a referendum, no international treaty, if in a foreign country has no effective legitimate authority “. (Source: Forum Pridnestrovie )


Now Moldova’s Pridnestrovie region is seeking to follow Crimea and join Russia and this is not causing concern only in Moldova but in neighbouring Romania, Ukraine as well in EU and Nato too.
Transdniestria – and Gagauzia – are joining to the same club with Abkhazia and South Ossetia as de facto states, namely political entities that have achieved enduring ‘internal sovereignty’ – but lack ‘external sovereignty’ in the international system. As Crimea is annexed to Russia and these other “states” can follow to join Russia or continue as de facto state, this development is creating a Northern Black Sea corridor, frontline or buffer zone.

North Black Sea buffer zone

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Good Moldavia-Pridnestrovie cooperation since 2009 and 2011 elections


New prospects for conflict settlement have appeared after parliamentary elections of 2009 in the Republic of Moldova. The new pro-Western team – the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) – that substituted the Communist Party ruling the country from 2001, proved much more pragmatic and willing to deal with its breakaway region than their predecessors pursuing rather an isolationist policy. In 2011 presidential elections President Igor Smirnov, who had been in power since Pridnestrovie declared independence in 1990, failed to be re-elected, and was replaced by opposition MP, younger leader of the ‘Revival’ movement and former speaker of the Supreme Council Yevgeny Shevchuk. These political changes engendered hopes for the settlement process to acquire a positive momentum.


The power changes in Pridnestrovie give positive boost to peace process: the official negotiation process re-started after six years interruption in November 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to be followed by a meeting on February 2012 in Dublin, Ireland and on April 2012. Finally the Document of principles and procedures and agenda of negotiations were agreed in Vienna, whereas on July 2012 this Document was signed. It included such issues as freedom of movement of passengers and cargo, traffic of trains, education issues,etc. Also a new approach (joint initiative of Russia and Germany, Meseburg, 2010) by the EU and Russia to resolve the conflict was the setting up of a joint Political and Security Committee (EU-R-PSC) at minister level. Related to security issues it was stated that the EU and Russia will cooperate in particular towards a resolution of the Transdniestria conflict with a view to achieve tangible progress within the established 5 + 2 format (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova,Pridnestrovie , OSCE, EU, US). This cooperation could include a joint EU-Russia engagement, which would guarantee a smooth transition of the present situation to a final stage.


The main approach of the resumed negotiations and to the settlement process in general focuses on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). This means that political aspects of the settlement, for example a mutually accepted status of Pridnestrovie, are not yet touched. Instead status there has been attempts to make concrete steps of issues that both sides of the conflict are interested in. These kind of initiatives have already been following:

  • Engaging the sides into direct dialogue;
  • Establishing joint Working/Expert Groups on confidence building measures;
  • Conducting meetings at a higher level (for example, between Prime-minister of the RM Vlad Filat and leader of Pridnestrovie Yevgeny Shevchuk, also between the heads of foreign ministries Eugen Carpov and Nina Stanski);
  • Elaborating and implementing national and international social and economic development projects etc.

The direct dialogue at a higher level has been clear contrast to previous lack of any kind of dialogue lasting for years. There has been a dozen WGs e.g. on economy, agriculture and environment, transport, railways, civil status acts, social and humanitarian aid, health, education, combating organised crimes and emergencies, telecommunications, and customs, whereas the WG on demilitarisation and security is not yet operating.
Growing dispute between parties started by unilateral actions by both parties during Spring 2013. First Moldova established migration control of citizens in six checkpoints, second  Pridnestroviestarted to mark border in in the sc Security Zone or line of demarcation after the Transdniestrian war (1992).
More about negotiation history in my article Transnistrian number game and in conference paper Transnistrian Conflict: State of Affairs and Prospects of Settlement  by Natalya Belitser )

Tools against Pridnestrovie by Chisinau and Kiev

Arsenal of tools, on that, with the support of Western “ideological-political sponsors” can count in Chisinau and the Kiev could be as following:

  • further tightening of border crossing for the residents of Pridnestrovieh, the introduction of a total ban on border crossings by social groups and citizens (It is noteworthy in this regard that, that the admission of foreign citizens on the territory of Moldova is liberalized; Ukrainian officials should examine stats for financial gains and losses of the Moldovan side of Ukrainian companies, eg, air carriers);
  • blocking of export-import operations of the Pridnestrovie side, transit of Pridnestrovie goods, that is well within the common “European” subjects as a way to European integration, with a demand for the full functioning of the Pridnestrovie Moldovan business rules;
  • ban on border crossings by vehicles with Pridnestrovie number;
  • refusal to issue permits for the Pridnestrovie passenger transport;
  • Moldovan law on the placement of the Ukrainian checkpoints with full access to all databases and law carry out administrative functions, etc..

Russia ready if needed

Nato warns that a pro-Russian enclave of Moldova could be Moscow’s next target after Crimea. Nato’s top military Commander Europe Philip Breedlove said on 23rd March 2014 that Russia has a large force on Ukraine’s eastern border and is worried it could pose a threat to Moldova’s separatist Pridnestrovie region.Russia launched a new military exercise, involving 8,500 artillery men, near Ukraine’s border 10 days ago. Breedlove said the Russian tactic should lead the 28-nation Western military alliance to rethink the positioning and readiness of its forces in eastern Europe so that they were ready to counter Moscow’s moves.(The Telegraph)


How the Russian forces would get there. Pridnestrovie is landlocked and to go there by land would require Russian troops to travel through much of western Ukraine. However, Russian forces based in the Eastern side of the Black Sea and Crimea could conceivably stage an airlift. Since it fought a brief separatist war to breakaway from Moldova in 1991, Pridnestrovie has been home to “peacekeeping” garrison of around 1,000 Russian troops. One option is also that Russia includes Odessa in a “security belt” that would presumably stretch from Crimea to Transdniestria.


The speaker of Pridnestrovie’s separatist parliament urged Russia middle of March 2014 to incorporate the region and the republic’s parliament, called the Supreme Soviet, sent an official request to Moscow asking if Transdniestria could be allowed to join the Russian Federation. The talks within the 5+2 format (Russia, Moldova, Pridnestrovie, Ukraine, the OSCE and observers from the EU and the US) are scheduled for 10-11 April 2014.


In Moldova the appetite for European integration among Moldova’s 3.5 million people had weakened even before the crisis in Ukraine and a parliamentary election later this year may bring a return of the pro-Russian Communist Party That was forced from power in 2009. Moldova falls under the EU’s Neighborhood Policy, which contains no explicit similar promise of membership like the countries of the Western Balkans .

Gagauzia had referendum too

Gagauzia Moldova map

Transnistria (orange) and Gagauzia (red) are pro-Russian regions in Moldova (photo courtesy of Stratfor)

Following a 1991 declaration of independence, Comrat (Gagauzia’s capital) agreed to remain a part of Moldova, after Chisinau agreed to grant the region the legal status of a “special autonomous zone“. Chisinau’s control was challenged in February 2014 when Gagauzia held a referendum to join the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union. The referendum followed Chisinau’s decision to enter a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union in November 2013–the same agreement former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich snubbed when he opted for the customs union with Moscow. Gagauzia has a population of about 155,000 people, mostly ethnically Gagauz, Turkic-speaking Orthodox Christians. Many locals fear that Chisinau’s EU-integration agenda masks an intention to unite Moldova with neighboring Romania.


An overwhelming majority of voters in a referendum – with turnout more than 70 % – held in the autonomous Moldovan region of Gagauzia have voted for integration with a Russia-led customs union: 98.4 percent of voters chose closer relations with the CIS Customs Union. In a separate question, 97.2 percent were against closer EU integration. In addition, 98.9 percent of voters supported Gagauzia’s right to declare independence should Moldova lose or surrender its own independence. Moldova’s government claims that referendum in Gagauzia is unconstitutional and had no legal legitimacy.


Although the security situation in Gagauzia remains calm, on 26 March, the executive committee in Comrat announced its decision to establish independent police stations in Comrat, as well as in its northern and southern cities of Briceni and Cahul. Moscow has demonstrated support for Gagauzia following the referendum. The regions governor, Mihail Formuzal visited Moscow in March 2014 and got impression that Russia was prepared to expand partnerships with Gagauzia and “provide the necessary support”. Despite an embargo against wine produced in Moldova, Russia began importing it from Gagauzia, likely as an attempt to encourage additional good will toward its benefactor.

Bottom line


It easy to say that incorporating Transdniestria – as well Gagauzia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Crimea – into Russia (and Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia) is against international law (whatever it is) or some international agreements. Although Russia moving into eastern Ukraine could be–as the West says–invasion-occupation-annexation. However in my opinion these actions are more legitimate or justified than U.S.expansionism, secret wars and interventions around the globe.


The other possible scenarios than annex into Russia for Pridnestrovie are e.g:

  •  Status quo maintained aka “frozen conflict” continues;
  • Re-integration of the Republic of Moldova with condition of establishing a confederation including Moldova, Transdniestria as Gaugazia entities, this could be pragmatic option for Ukraine too;
  • Transnistria gained its independence and state sovereignty recognized internationally
  • Joining Ukraine, which option after coup in Kiev seems most unlikely option to me.

In my opinion even without international recognizion Pridnestrovie meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood. As long as Pridnestrovie’s status is unresolved, it will be a serious political obstacle to Moldova’s joining the EU, which does not want another “divided state” like Cyprus on it hands.

Transdniestria and Moldavia map
My previous article about Pridnestrovie:

 

Note: An Italian version of this article published too

Il futuro della Transnistria nel contesto della crisi Ucraina


Confrontation Between Transnistria and Moldova Deepening

June 28, 2013

Regional map MoldovaThe escalation of tensions between Moldova and the break-away Transnistria region is causing concern in the EU and neighbouring Romania. Growing dispute between parties started by unilateral actions by both parties during this Spring. First Moldova established migration control of citizens in six checkpoints, second Transnistria started to mark border in in the sc Security Zone or line of demarcation after the Transnistrian war (1992).

Transnistria – also known as Transdnistria aka Pridnestrovie aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. Moldova is one of the frontlines of “battlefield” of interest spheres between EU and Russia, between U.S. and Russia and between future energy political deals. It is also a test for international law, conflict management and territorial sovereignty.

From Moldovan point of view Transnistria’s actions would expand the separatist region to include eight Moldovan villages. There is heightened fears in region of a military confrontation with Moldova, but in my opinion this can be avoided.

Current confrontation

The present round of changes started already on March 2013 in particular, the Republic of Moldova unilaterally decided to establish migration control of citizens in the six checkpoints: Gyrbovets (Novye Aneny), Khadzhimus (Kaushany), Dubossary, Kriulyany, Rezina, Seneteuka (Floreshty) without proper coordination at the bilateral or multilateral international level and within the framework of the Joint Control Commission. (Source PMR FA) The decision imposes limitations on the citizens of Russia, living in Transnistria (about 150 thousand people) and forming one-fourth of Transnistria’s population. The Moldovan authorities said they did it in order to establish order on the future eastern border of the European Union, which Moldova plans to join.

Tensions increased during the night of April 26-27 in the Security Zone of the Republic of Moldova. The Security Zone was set up at the end of the Transnistrian war (March-July 1992). The Transnistrian authorities unilaterally installed two checkpoints between the village of Varniţa (a commune that remains controlled by the Moldovan government) and the city of Bender (controlled by the separatist authorities of Transnistria). This led to clashes between Moldovan civilians, who tried to remove the checkpoints, and the Transnistrian militia, who intervened to stop them. The conflict was brought to an end a few hours later, by the Unified Control Commission, a joint mechanism established to monitor, among other things, the Security Zone. Transnistria claimed that the new checkpoints were aimed at combatting smuggling. (Source: Globalvoice )

Moldovan army is prepared to defend itself if a violent conflict is to escalates. However, a scenario similar to the one in 1992 is unlikely, said Vitalie Marinuta, Moldovan Defense Minister. The Moldovan Defense Minister believes that the separatists do not have the guts to generate a violent conflict because they are currently not fully supported by Russia.“Transnistrian army’s potential cannot break out a new military conflict, especially to continue this action alone,” the Minister pointed out. “On the other hand, Russia does not have an interest at the moment to support such a conflict because loses at international level would be greater than any gains.”According to the Moldovan official, the mobilization of resources of Transnistria, as well as the support of this regime by the population of the region is not as strong as it was back in 1992. Moreover, Russia has weaker military assets which “are incapable to carry on a prospect military attack.”The Moldovan Government admits that after the adoption of the so-called law on state border of Transnistria, issued by Transnistrian’s president Shevchuk, Moldova is losing their struggle in the Eastern districts. From Moldova’s perspective, according to the bill, the separatist region will cover some towns and villages which are currently under the legitimate authorities of Moldova. ((Source: Moldova.org (USA based NGO))

Political turbulence on both sides

Moldova itself has been marked by political turbulence in recent years. In Chișinău, there is a big fight, for money and power.The constant power struggle left Moldova without a president for nearly two years, then without a prime minister, and then also without a speaker of the Parliament. Earlier this year there was the collapse of Moldova’s pro-European governing coalition.

In 2011 presidential elections President Igor Smirnov, who had been in power since Transnistria declared independence in 1990, was replaced by opposition MP and former speaker of the Supreme Council Yevgeny Shevchuk. Earlier President Shevchuk, made a startling proposal to move the region’s legislature, the Supreme Council, from Tiraspol to the territory’s second-largest city, Bender. The choice of Bender was clearly symbolic: the city is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the 1990s war that ended with Transnistria declaring independence from the Republic of Moldova. The proposed move would also take the significant step of carrying Transdniester’s political center of gravity across the Dniester River, which geographically separates the bulk of the breakaway region from Moldova proper. Bender is one of the few regions on the Dniester’s western bank that is under Transdniester’s de facto jurisdiction. Bender also lies within the security zone established after the war, a narrow strip that includes Transdniestrian and Moldovan exclave territories on both banks of the river. The terms of the 1992 cease-fire agreement prohibit either party from taking actions that would deliberately aggravate tensions between the two sides. In this light, the Bender proposal has been interpreted by some as the kind of land grab that has been seen in other territorial conflicts in the former Soviet Union and the post-war Balkans. Supreme Council lawmakers rejected the proposal on May 23, voting to pass a resolution stating that the Transdniestrian parliament should remain in the territory’s de facto capital, Tiraspol.

Graphics credit: RFE/RL

One should however emphasize that the power changes in Transnistria give positive boost to peace process: the official negotiation process re-started after six years interruption in November 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to be followed by a meeting on February 2012 in Dublin, Ireland and on April 2012. Finally the Document of principles and procedures and agenda of negotiations were agreed in Vienna, whereas on July 2012 this Document was signed. It included such issues as freedom of movement of passengers and cargo, traffic of trains, education issues,etc. Now the progress seems to go backwards.

From war towards independence

Moldova was part of Romania before the Soviet Union annexed it in World War II. Before the First World War it was part of Tsarist Russia. A landlocked country lying between Romania and Ukraine, most people speak Romanian, although the country’s constitution calls the language Moldovan. Moldova became independent in 1991. Moldovans share a linguistic and historical heritage with Romania. Although widely seen as part of Moldova, historically, Transnistria and Moldova were always separate. Throughout 2500 years of history, the Dniester River forming the current border has been a traditional border between Slav lands (Scythia, 450 B.C.) to the East and Romanian lands (Dacia) to the West.

In 1992 Moldova and Transdnistria fought a brief, bitter war which the separatists won, with the assistance of a contingent of locally-based Russian troops left over from the Soviet Red Army. Cease fire left Russian troops in place as peacekeepers and Transdnistria has since then acted de facto as independent – although not recognized – state. Transnistria region broke away in Soviet times because it feared Moldova would unite with Romania. Most of Moldova was once part of its western neighbour.

Most of Moldova was once part of Romania and now there are growing social forces in Moldova seeking reunification with its western neighbour for nationalist reasons and as an easy path to EU membership. Already between 10% and 20% of Moldovans have Romanian, and by extension EU, passports. The fear of Romanian expansionism frightens Transnistria away from reconciliation, while the “Kosovo precedent” gives its arguments for independence more weight. In 2009 Romanian President Traian Basescu told the Romanian parliament that he would fast-track Moldovans for Romanian citizenship following riots in the Moldova (Source DW) . Fast-tracking citizenship to some 1m people next door in Moldova, in effect giving EU citizenship to a quarter of the population of Europe’s poorest state.

Transnistrian population – about 555,000 people (2009). 90% of the population of Transnistria are citizens of the unrecognized Transnistria. Transnistrians have double or triple citizenship, including:

a) Citizens of Moldova – around 300,000 people (including double citizens of Russia (around 170,000, or EU states (around 80%) Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic)

b) Citizens of Russia – around 150,000 people (including around 15,000 – double the citizens of Belarus, Israel, Turkey); without quantity of dual citizenship Russia and Moldova (around 20,000)

c) Citizens of Ukraine – around 100,000 people. There are around 20,000-30,000 people with dual citizenship (Moldova and Ukraine, or Russia and Ukraine), or triple citizenship (Moldova, Russia and Ukraine). They are considered in the quantity of citizens of Ukraine and finally

d) persons without citizenship – around 20,000-30,000 people.

In my opinion even without international recognizion Transnistria meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood.

Frozen talks

Ten years of negotiations are better than one day of war.” ( Sergey Gubarev, Russian diplomat on Transdnistrian Moldovan conflict )

Conflict was frozen nearly ten years, then started first serious try to find sustainable solution. Internationally most used format has been sc 5 +2 process (Moldova and Transdniester as sides in negotiations, with Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE acting as intermediaries and the EU and the US as observers). Also 2+1 format (Moldova and PMR as parties, Russia mediator) has been used. In February 2011 the so-called “5 + 2 Talks” were started again in Vienna. More about negotiation history in my article Transnistrian number game .

Related to current escalation of tensions Moldova’s Parliament on June 22nd 2013 has called on international partners (the U.S., the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation )negotiating a settlement with a breakaway republic to stop separatists from seizing territory in eastern Moldova to “resolve the situation in Trans-Dniester through political and peaceful means, respecting democratic…principles.” (Source: Montreal Gazette )

The European Union reacted to the so-called legal act on state border issued by the Transnistrian leadership. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton issued a statement on June 21 saying that she supports the statement made on June 17 by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Leonid Kozhara, calling on sides to abstain from unilateral actions which impede the negotiation process. “I urge the two sides of the Transnistrian conflict to work in a constructive spirit, within the framework of the ‘5+2’ negotiating process, towards a peaceful settlement,” Catherine Ashton said. “I reaffirm the EU’s commitment to supporting the settlement process, in the interest and for the benefit of the populations on the ground, through dialogue with all the parties concerned and through an extensive programme of confidence-building measures open to both sides.” The Romanian Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean, appealed to the two sides to refrain from unilateral action. “I urge my colleagues in Chisinau (Moldova) to be politically intelligent people and not to get back to provocations,” Corlatean said. (Source e.g: Moldova.org )

When Ukraine took on the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year, it pledged to make progress on Moldova-Transnistria conflict. However during negotiations on May 2013 in Odessa the hopes of a breakthrough appeared increasingly distant. The so-called 5+2 group was barely able to agree on an agenda for the talks, let alone negotiate a any settlement to this 21-year-old frozen conflict.

Kozak plans as solution

Moldova and Transnistria have been close for solution by widely agreed sc “Kozak plan” which still is valid for further examination.

In the Spring 2003 Dimitry Kozakin – a special envoy of Russian President Putin – started to broke deal between local stakeholders and finaally proposed on the creation of an assymmetric federal Moldovan state, with Moldova holding a majority and Transnistria being a minority part of the federation. Known as “the Kozak plan”, it did not coincide with the Transnistrian position, which sought equal status between Transnistria and Moldova, but gave Transnistria veto powers over future constitutional changes; this encouraged Transnistria to sign it. However when the plan was ready and preliminary agreed to sign on November 2003 the Western powers put some pressure towards Moldova leading to President Voronin’s rejection to sign.

August 2008 was the turning point in negotiation process. Conflict in Georgia was in background when Russian President Medvedev first held talks with Moldova’s President Voronin and later with Transdnistria’s leader Smirnov. 5+2 format was replaced with 1+2 format including Moscow as mediator, Chisinau and Tiraspol as the parties of conflict. The basic elements of new deal are probably similar like in Kozak plan I. The price of reunion will be high to Moldova because probably federation form with strong minority or veto rules would neutralize Moldova’s foreign policy related integration towards EU and Nato. Higher price for Moldova could be even stronger sovereignty of Transnistria with thread that also other autonomous territory of Moldova – namely Gagauz region – would follow the steps of Transdnistria; it is expected that the demands of transforming Gagauzia region from autonomy to republic will increase.

(Note: The Moldovan parliament granted autonomous status to the Turkic-language speaking Gagauz region in the southwest of the republic in late 1994. Earlier the proclamation of the Gagauz Union Republic took place on 19 August 1990 and Moldovan military forces entered to Gagauzia right after that. Now Gagauz has powers over its own political, economic and cultural affairs.)


There is an opinion, that the Transnistrian conflict will be resolved if Moldova joins the Eurasian Economic Union (EurAsES or EAEC)where Moldova now has an observer status: “The Transnistrian conflict is soluble. When we all come into the EurAsES, all questions will be resolved”. However this option seems to be unrealistic. A new approach (joint initiative of Russia and Germany, Meseburg, 2010) by the EU and Russia to resolve the conflict could be the setting up of a joint Political and Security Committee (EU-R-PSC) at minister level.. Transnistria thereby became a test case for future cooperation with Russia.


Moldova Elections – 2nd attempt

August 1, 2009

The 29 July early parliamentary elections in Moldova swept Europe’s last ruling Communist party from power by pro-EU opposition parties. With 98.3 percent of votes counted, the Communist Party won 48 seats in the 101-seat Moldovan parliament and the four opposition parties collected 53 seats. The former Soviet republic has been experiencing a political crisis since the April elections that turned into a week of violent demonstrations by young pro-opposition activists in the capital Chisinau, dubbed the “Twitter revolution” (More in my article “Twitter Revolution – Case Moldova” )

Wednesday’s election is a repeat of the vote on April, however forced not by the protests, but the Communists’ failure to muster the 61 votes needed to elect a president. The result then left the Communists one vote short and parliamentary deputies failed twice to elect a new head of state. After several months of deadlock, Moldova’s long-time Communist leader Vladimir Vorinin was forced to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections. After eight years as president, Voronin is now expected to leave power.

More about April elections can be found from my article “Election in Moldova – Nato perspective blocked”.

The campaign

Moldova has been in political paralysis since April 5 parliamentary elections sparked violent protests, with the opposition claiming the ballot was faked. According OSCE’s preliminary observation report the Political parties frequently used these events in their campaigns to blame each other for the eruption of violence. The campaign atmosphere was highly polarized, and there was severe antagonism between the opposition and the ruling party. As in previous elections, voting did not take place on the territory that since 1992 is under the de facto control of the Transdniestrian authorities. In Corjova, a disputed commune on the eastern bank, voting was prevented by seemingly organized groups. The place is also president Voronin’s native village. (More about Transdnistria/Moldova dispute’s background may be found from my article “Transdnistrian number game”)

Elections were contested by eight political parties whose lists of candidates were registered by the CEC in an inclusive process. Registration of two independent candidates was refused due to incomplete documentation. Two political parties, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the European Action Movement (MAE), as well as one independent candidate, withdrew from the race. The campaign atmosphere remained strained mostly due to mutual accusations between the governing party and the opposition regarding the eruption of violence during the April demonstrations. At campaign events throughout the country, the PCRM showed a film “Attack on Moldova” portraying opposition parties, with some foreign involvement, as organizers of the 7 April events. Likewise, during their campaign events, the PLDM, AMN and PL used footage depicting the events as instigated by the PCRM. The only party that openly called for an end to these disputes was the PDM under its newly elected chairman who was a prominent PCRM figure and who had left the PCRM in June 2009. (Source – OSCE report mentioned earlier).

The results

According OSCE observation report this time parliamentary elections in Moldova overall were well administered, allowing for competition of political parties representing a plurality of views. Many of the OSCE and Council of Europe commitments were met.

The results are described in following table where I have added also the April 5th voting results for comparison:

Election

///

Party

Election June 29th 2009

Election April 5th 2009

Turnout 58,8 %

Turnout 54 %

%

Seats

%

Seats

Communist Party

45,07

48

49,48

60

Liberal Party

14,36

15

13,13

15

Liberal Democratic Party

16,40

17

13,43

15

Democratic Party

12,61

13

Our Moldova Alliance

7,37

8

9,77

11

Short characterization:

  • The Communist Party came to power in 2001; leader Vladimir Voronin will step down after serving two four-year terms as president.
  • Liberal Democratic Party is Pro-European, pro-NATO; considered a party of technocrats.
  • Liberal Party is Pro-European, pro-NATO; wants closer relationship with Romania.
  • The big winner Democratic Party supports Moldova’s eventual membership in the European Union — a long-term goal. Party now led by Marian Lupu, who quit senior position in Communist Party in June.
  • Our Moldova Alliance is Pro-European, pro-NATO and favors closer ties with Romania.

Outside reactions

Romanian President Traian Basescu said Thursday 30th that “opposition and democratic forces” had won the snap parliamentary elections in neighbouring Moldova. Elections in Moldova are followed closely in neighbouring Romania. Most of Moldova was part of Romania until its annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940. Moldova won independence in 1991. Relations between the neighbouring countries have deteriorated since Moldova’s outgoing Communist government blamed the riots on neighbouring EU member Romania, kicking out Romania’s ambassador. (Source BalkanInsight)

More about Romania/Moldova dispute’s background in my article “Twitter revolution – no coup d’etat but big drama anyway” .

In the wake of the disputed April vote, President Voronin had accused Romania, an EU and NATO member, of engineering a coup d’etat. Turning toward Moscow, he won a $500 million loan pledge from Russia and a $1 billion pledge from China. That money may not materialize if the opposition forms a government, but at this time that kind of outcome is pure speculation.

Changes?

As follow-up at least the government and president of Moldova will change in near future. It seems probable that the new government was likely to adopt a pro-EU “tilt”, and enact important market reforms, but without alienating Russia.

The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Vlad Filat, said the election was a victory for truth and that it would definitely seek to form a coalition with other opposition parties – the Liberal Party, the Democratic Party and Our Moldova Alliance. He told Reuters: “There will definitely be a coalition, a wide coalition in the interests of the people. We will find the necessary compromise and find agreement so that Moldova finally gets democratic rule.” (Sources The Guardian and BBC )

Analysts say there is also the possibility that the Democratic Party, which won 12.5% of the vote or 13 seats, might forge a governing coalition with the Communists that would have a combined total of 61 seats. However, the leader of the Democrats, Marian Lupu, a former parliamentary speaker who defected from the Communists, was dismissive of such a deal on Thursday morning. (Sources The Guardian and BBC )

The opposition parties do not have enough votes on their own to elect the president, and will be forced to horse-trade with the Communists. Moldova’s most likely new president is Marian Lupu – the former Communist party speaker now leader of the opposition Democratic party. Lupu is the most likely candidate to attract the support of some Communist deputies, analysts believe. Some analysts expect the Communist party to seek to remain in power through making a deal to split the opposition front in which Democratic Party leader, Marian Lupu, who left the Communists only last month, agrees to support his former party in return for the ouster of President Vladimir Voronin.(Sources The Guardian and BBC )

Russia keeps troops in Moldova’s separatist Transdniestria region and supplies over 90% of the nation’s energy. It has promised $500m in loans to help Moldova through the global economic crisis. China offered $1bn.


Bottom line

Moldova is one of the frontlines of “battlefield” of interest spheres between EU and Russia, between U.S. and Russia and between future energy political deals. It is also a test for international law, conflict management and territorial sovereignty.

The power swift from Communist Party to opposition will probably not be very significant as the opposition’s win was guaranteed by new Democratic Party leaded by Communist Party’s ex top official.

In terms of foreign policy will continue the tightrope walking between the EU and Russia. There maybe will be more cooperation with the EU avoiding however same time conflict with Russia. Relations with Romania will be normalized and Transdnistria will continue its life as de facto independent state.


Twitter revolution – no coup d’etat but big drama anyway

April 19, 2009

Twitter revolution did not change government in Moldova but created big drama instead including a couple of conspiracy theories and “fast-track” mini enlargement of EU with one million new EU citizens Moldova possibly losing a quarter its citizens. So a relatively small improvised demonstration can lead its (mis)use for possible purposeful utilization of multidimensional aims of different players.

In my post “Twitter Revolution-Case Moldova I described a bit implementation and motivations about events occurred after 5th April elections in Moldova. Conclusions about elections itself are in my post Election in Moldova – Nato Perspective blocked”.

Some random pickings from Moldovan twitters about situation are describing situation afterward:

…about 200 people was arrested and nobody know where they are now…communist president had a meeting will all school and university deans, and told them that they’ll be fired if police catch one of their students at protest….also they close borders with Romania, and don’t let international journalists to enter in country. 3 journalists was denied entry in airport…2 Moldavian journalists disappeared after they filmed undercover police beating students…while in Chisinau people was protesting and fighting, national tv had on a documentary film…

 

On the other hand demonstration has been characterized also as an act where

youth, paid by older internationally-acting manipulators with money, alcohol and drugs, seized a presidential office, planted a Romania’s flag on a president palace and set on fire country’s parliament, demanding inclusion as a province in Romania.”

Conspiracy 1

The first conspiracy theory came public April 14th by Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review. According its sources flags of Romania and EU over Moldova’s presidential office building were run up by employees of Moldavan secret services. The Flags of Romania and the European Union which have been run up on April 7, over the building of the Moldova’s presidential office during the protest actions against falsifications of parliamentary elections, were raised up at presence of a policeman, a source in the Information and Security Service (SIS) of Moldova told news agency Regnum April 14th. According to the source, the flag of Romania overt the building was raised by an employee of the SIS. (Source AXIS)


Conspiracy 2

Few days later April 16th Moldavian President Vladimir Voronin expressed totally opposite conspiracy theory claiming that nine Serb nationals took part in organising the coup d’état in Chisinau, adding that the Moldavian secret service has information that the unrests were headed by former ‘resistance’ fighters. President Voronin said he had a photograph of a Serbian citizen who he claims is working for the Americans. – We have it all on tape and we can identify all the animals who were attacking the police – Voronin said.

Speaking in an interview for the Spanish daily El Pais, Voronin said nine Serbian citizens and several Romanian agents have been registered in Chisinau.

Danko Cosic from Serbia, the director of a non-governmental organisation “Prokoncept”, who was an observer in Moldavia during the elections, said that the country does not even have nine Serbs in it. – They showed the photograph Voronin speaks of. I am on that photo. They took the photo in front of the presidency building. I took no part in any violence. For sure, whoever is taking part in violence is not holding his hands in his pockets – Cosic concluded. He also said that the story of President Voronin is very illogical. – Nine Serbs could not organise a riot. There was me and another young man there – Cosic said. (Source AXIS)

Hasty consequences

There are growing social forces in Moldova seeking reunification with Romania for nationalist reasons and as an easy path to EU membership. Already between 10% and 20% of Moldovans have Romanian, and by extension EU, passports. The fear of Romanian expansionism frightens Transnistria away from reconciliation, while the “Kosovo precedent” gives its arguments for independence more weight.

Romanian President Traian Basescu told the Romanian parliament that he would fast-track Moldovans for Romanian citizenship following riots in the Moldova (Source DW)  . Fast-tracking citizenship to some 1m people next door in Moldova, in effect giving EU citizenship to a quarter of the population of Europe’s poorest state.

EU institutions are appalled (Source euobserver) at Romania’s proposal to give citizenship. The website quoted an unnamed EU official as describing the plans as “frightening.”

To make issue more complicate one should also note that at same time Russia is trying to draw Transdniestr into its orbit by giving out passports to (Moldovan) citizens living in this breakaway republic.



My perspective

From my perspective few points I would like to highlight, such as

  • If it is true that Moldovan government had purposeful utilization of demonstration I would claim this to be a double stupidity: First to implement this kind of action when you actually have almost landslide win in the election and second to be caught in the act of fabrication. The April 5 parliamentary election may have been flawed, but not to the degree the opposition claims.

  • Was “Twitter revolution” an attempt of another so-called “colored revolution,” or simply an expression of rage by young people who demand to live better lives? There are certainly specific individuals in Moldova who are interested see unification with Romania as the easiest way into the European Union. Looting of government buildings seems more hooliganism than a plan to take control of the country or to bring about “regime change by force.

  • One question is if using social networks with modern technology very democratic way in politics? This tactic suits mainly in urban areas by people – mostly younger generation – who are familiar with modern communication means and have infrastructure supporting them.

  • Many in breakaway Transdniester are watching the recent events in Moldova with satisfaction, in that the unrest and violence only serve as a further reason why they should not agree, in the wake of Kosovo’s independence, to once again become a part of Moldova.

  • For over a decade, Transdnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia had strong cases for independence, even stronger than Kosovo’s (My comparison Kosovo-Transdnstria in article “Transdnistria Follow-up. Today they have de facto independence, even if it is not recognized. And if now some Moldovans or wannabe Romanians are demanding border changes – after Kosovo – how can they be denied this?

  • The whole mess now in Moldova makes EU’s position challenging;  what is its position about this kind of mini-enlargement, how implement new European Partnership (EaP) program on the ground, how deal with secessionist Transdnistria, Gagauz and maybe more regions, what kind of cross-border activities to support?

And the next color will be …?

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Election in Moldova – NATO perspective blocked

April 8, 2009

Last week-end Moldova had parliamentary elections. The ruling Party of Communists won so no big change in politics is expected. Elections in EU’s border have however some significance as the new leadership will be the counterpart during period after EP elections influencing e.g. enlargement, partnership and security questions. Before Moldova (FYRO) Macedonia already had their voting and many ways very important elections in Ukraine are coming later.


Moldova is one of the frontlines of “battlefield” of interest spheres between EU and Russia, between U.S. and Russia and between future energy political deals. It is also a test for international law, conflict management and territorial sovereignty.

Elections

As many as 50 per cent of Moldovan eligible voters cast their ballots for the Party of Communists (PCRM). Thus, the ruling party won a landslide victory leaving the other three political parties that made it to parliament far behind. Three other parties managed to pass the 6 per cent threshold required to enter the legislature – the Liberal Democrat Party with 13.9 per cent, the Liberal Party with 13.9 per cent and Our Moldova Alliance with 10 per cent. Liberals have demanded Moldova’s reunification with Romania. All three are in favour of closer ties with the European Union, free-market policies and pursuing NATO membership. The Communists (PCRM) are pro-EU, anti-NATO and less market-friendly.

The other formations failed to clear the six-per-cent threshold. The Social Democratic Party – which proposed (Infotag 20 March 2009) to pass the Transnistrian region to the Russian Federation into a concession for 30 years – grabbed 3.71 per cent of the votes, the Christian Democratic Popular Party 3.02 per cent, the Democratic Party 2.97; the Moldovan Centrist Union 2.76 per cent and the European Action Movement 1 per cent. The other parties and independent candidates mustered less than one per cent.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has reported voter turnout was 59.52%, i.e. 1,543,966 persons, of whom 14,838 people voted at polling stations opened in foreign countries.

The April 5 parliamentary elections in Moldova met many international standards and commitments, but further improvements are required to ensure an electoral process free from undue administrative interference and to increase public confidence, the International Election Observation Mission said in a statement, on Monday, April 6, at a news conference.

Transdnistrian question

Moldovans share a linguistic and historical heritage with Romania, but its Transdniestria – aka Pridnestrovie aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – region broke away in Soviet times because it feared Moldova would unite with Romania. Most of Moldova was once part of its western neighbour. Transdnistria has practically been independent – if not recognized – state already over 17 years. Short historical representation one may find from here

On March 18 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted Moldovan President Voronin and Transnistria’s President Smirnov at the Barvikha residence near Moscow. The three signed a Russian-drafted joint declaration. Apparently panicking in the run-up to the April 5 elections, Voronin has hoisted the white flag of surrender on Transnistria in return for a pre-election endorsement from the Kremlin. However March 25th he refused to go to Tiraspol for a meeting with Smirnov. A day earlier Transnistrian republic announced slapping a travel ban on a whole number of Western (EU and U.S.) officials. Smirnov stated that this was Tiraspol’s reply to the European Union Council of Ministers’ decision to extend for another 12 months, until February 2010, the travel ban on top Transnistria officials.  (Infotag 25.3.2009)

Within the meeting the participants were to evaluate the functioning of the eight work groups created to elaborate the confidence-building measures between Chisinau and Tiraspol in the social-economic and humanitarian domains and to single out new tasks related to this.

Post-election protest

Violent protests have broken out in Moldova after the ruling Communist Party was elected on Sunday. About 10,000 – some sources claim over 30,000 – demonstrators gathered on a central square in Moldova’s capital Chisinau to protest against the newly elected government. Some had waved European, Romanian and Moldovan flags from the roof of the president’s offices.

Some of the protesters are demanding Moldova’s reunification with Romania, while others are chanting “Down with the Communists!” Some protesters stormed the Moldovan parliament and presidential office and set fire to furniture. Traffic along the city’s thoroughfare has ground to a halt, but police say they have the situation under control. One woman died and about a hundred people were hurt after protesters.

Some possible consequences

Moldova’s parliament will select a new President as Mr Voronin is not eligible according law to be reselected anymore. However he probably will get new influential post – maybe PM or Speaker of Parliament – so his policy will continue. This means no to NATO, no to reunification with Romania, some but not full cooperation with EU, continuing decline of GUUAM (cooperation body supported by US energy giants and military-industrial-complex) and frozen situation with separatist regions.

Talks about solution for Transdnistria/PMR will probably continue in 2+1 format (Moldova and PMR as parties, Russia mediator), possible result will be delivered to official “western backed” 5 (Moldova/PMR, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE)+2 (U.S. and EU) process.

If the talks are leading to unlikely scenario to pursue the federalization of the Republic of Moldova then also it is expected that the demands of transforming Gagauzia region from autonomy to republic will increase.

Notwithstanding the outcome of Moldova/PMR talks the separatist region will continue its life as state – Transdnistria has all statehood elements, its economy is relatively good with export to over 100 countries and it can manage without UN seat. If EU recognize the reality it could remove the visa ban and start pragmatic cooperation.

A Follow-Up 8.4.2009

According BalkanInsight.com – online publication of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – Moldova’s president Vladimir Voronin today accused Romania of involvement in the violent protests which have swept Chisinau. Moldova has also decided to expel the Romanian ambassador and to introduce visa requirements for its Western neighbour.

Moldova was part of Romania from 1918 to 1940 until it was annexed by the Soviet Union. Moldova became independent in 1991 and the two countries share the same ethnic and linguistic background. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated under Vladimir Voronin’s Presidency. In 2007 Moldova stopped Romania from opening two consulates in the country, claiming Bucharest was trying to lure Moldovan citizens.

More about topic one may find from my earlier articles:


Election in Moldova – NATO perspective blocked

April 8, 2009

Last week-end Moldova had parliamentary elections. The ruling Party of Communists won so no big change in politics is expected. Elections in EU’s border have however some significance as the new leadership will be the counterpart during period after EP elections influencing e.g. enlargement, partnership and security questions. Before Moldova (FYRO) Macedonia already had their voting and many ways very important elections in Ukraine are coming later.


Moldova is one of the frontlines of “battlefield” of interest spheres between EU and Russia, between U.S. and Russia and between future energy political deals. It is also a test for international law, conflict management and territorial sovereignty.

Elections

As many as 50 per cent of Moldovan eligible voters cast their ballots for the Party of Communists (PCRM). Thus, the ruling party won a landslide victory leaving the other three political parties that made it to parliament far behind. Three other parties managed to pass the 6 per cent threshold required to enter the legislature – the Liberal Democrat Party with 13.9 per cent, the Liberal Party with 13.9 per cent and Our Moldova Alliance with 10 per cent. Liberals have demanded Moldova’s reunification with Romania. All three are in favour of closer ties with the European Union, free-market policies and pursuing NATO membership. The Communists (PCRM) are pro-EU, anti-NATO and less market-friendly.

The other formations failed to clear the six-per-cent threshold. The Social Democratic Party – which proposed (Infotag 20 March 2009) to pass the Transnistrian region to the Russian Federation into a concession for 30 years – grabbed 3.71 per cent of the votes, the Christian Democratic Popular Party 3.02 per cent, the Democratic Party 2.97; the Moldovan Centrist Union 2.76 per cent and the European Action Movement 1 per cent. The other parties and independent candidates mustered less than one per cent.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has reported voter turnout was 59.52%, i.e. 1,543,966 persons, of whom 14,838 people voted at polling stations opened in foreign countries.

The April 5 parliamentary elections in Moldova met many international standards and commitments, but further improvements are required to ensure an electoral process free from undue administrative interference and to increase public confidence, the International Election Observation Mission said in a statement, on Monday, April 6, at a news conference.

Transdnistrian question

Moldovans share a linguistic and historical heritage with Romania, but its Transdniestria – aka Pridnestrovie aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – region broke away in Soviet times because it feared Moldova would unite with Romania. Most of Moldova was once part of its western neighbour. Transdnistria has practically been independent – if not recognized – state already over 17 years. Short historical representation one may find from here

On March 18 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted Moldovan President Voronin and Transnistria’s President Smirnov at the Barvikha residence near Moscow. The three signed a Russian-drafted joint declaration. Apparently panicking in the run-up to the April 5 elections, Voronin has hoisted the white flag of surrender on Transnistria in return for a pre-election endorsement from the Kremlin. However March 25th he refused to go to Tiraspol for a meeting with Smirnov. A day earlier Transnistrian republic announced slapping a travel ban on a whole number of Western (EU and U.S.) officials. Smirnov stated that this was Tiraspol’s reply to the European Union Council of Ministers’ decision to extend for another 12 months, until February 2010, the travel ban on top Transnistria officials.  (Infotag 25.3.2009)

Within the meeting the participants were to evaluate the functioning of the eight work groups created to elaborate the confidence-building measures between Chisinau and Tiraspol in the social-economic and humanitarian domains and to single out new tasks related to this.

Post-election protest

Violent protests have broken out in Moldova after the ruling Communist Party was elected on Sunday. About 10,000 – some sources claim over 30,000 – demonstrators gathered on a central square in Moldova’s capital Chisinau to protest against the newly elected government. Some had waved European, Romanian and Moldovan flags from the roof of the president’s offices.

Some of the protesters are demanding Moldova’s reunification with Romania, while others are chanting “Down with the Communists!” Some protesters stormed the Moldovan parliament and presidential office and set fire to furniture. Traffic along the city’s thoroughfare has ground to a halt, but police say they have the situation under control. One woman died and about a hundred people were hurt after protesters.

Some possible consequences

Moldova’s parliament will select a new President as Mr Voronin is not eligible according law to be reselected anymore. However he probably will get new influential post – maybe PM or Speaker of Parliament – so his policy will continue. This means no to NATO, no to reunification with Romania, some but not full cooperation with EU, continuing decline of GUUAM (cooperation body supported by US energy giants and military-industrial-complex) and frozen situation with separatist regions.

Talks about solution for Transdnistria/PMR will probably continue in 2+1 format (Moldova and PMR as parties, Russia mediator), possible result will be delivered to official “western backed” 5 (Moldova/PMR, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE)+2 (U.S. and EU) process.

If the talks are leading to unlikely scenario to pursue the federalization of the Republic of Moldova then also it is expected that the demands of transforming Gagauzia region from autonomy to republic will increase.

Notwithstanding the outcome of Moldova/PMR talks the separatist region will continue its life as state – Transdnistria has all statehood elements, its economy is relatively good with export to over 100 countries and it can manage without UN seat. If EU recognize the reality it could remove the visa ban and start pragmatic cooperation.

A Follow-Up 8.4.2009

According BalkanInsight.com – online publication of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – Moldova’s president Vladimir Voronin today accused Romania of involvement in the violent protests which have swept Chisinau. Moldova has also decided to expel the Romanian ambassador and to introduce visa requirements for its Western neighbour.

Moldova was part of Romania from 1918 to 1940 until it was annexed by the Soviet Union. Moldova became independent in 1991 and the two countries share the same ethnic and linguistic background. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated under Vladimir Voronin’s Presidency. In 2007 Moldova stopped Romania from opening two consulates in the country, claiming Bucharest was trying to lure Moldovan citizens.

More about topic one may find from my earlier articles:


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