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.


Kosovo Referendum Prepares the Ground for Tripartite Approach

February 17, 2012

Ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo – municipalities of Zubin Potok, Zvecan, northern Mitrovica and Leposavic – have been voting in a two-day referendum on February 14.-15. The question was simple: Voters were asked simply ”Do you accept the institutions of the so-called ‘Republic of Kosovo’ established in Pristina?”. Turnout was at 75.28%. Final results will be made known on February 19th – just after the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence declaration – but early estimate is that 99.74 % were against Pristina’s sovereignty. In Kosovo case the figure probably reflects good the opinion of local Serb population. The result shows that the barricades against EULEX were not just the work of “criminals” and “radicals” but instead have real popular support.

One should note that question about northern municipalities of Kosovo is only one – even if a core one – aspect in Kosovo framework. During NATO-bombing and after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians, nearly 200.000 Serbs and Romas escaped to Serbia where they are living like internal refugees many of them in temporary conditions. Despite naïve multiethnic ideas in Brussels they have not any intentions to risk their lives by returning hostile environment and their destroyed homes. In my opinion international community – which allowed this problem to happen – should finance a housing program in Serbia for these refugees (or officially IDPs). Second core question is the fate of some half of remaining Kosovo Serbs namely those who are living in isolated enclaves outside northern municipalities in Kosovo. These enclaves are protected by KFOR troops and should be so long as Pristina administrated part of Kosovo is so hostile as it still is.

High Tension in Kosovo North

Tension has been high in northern Kosovo since last July. The situation escalated when Kosovo Serbs put up roadblocks and barricades to stop the deployment of Kosovo customs officers to border points between north Kosovo municipalities and Serbia. Several rounds of violence has occurred; a Kosovo policeman was killed and several NATO troops injured. The north was the scene of unrest in November, when some 50 soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were hurt in a dispute between the two sides over control of border crossings. This Pristina’s failed attempt to seize the northern boundary with support by EULEX and KFOR have demonstrated that using force does not solve dispute.

The governing coalition in Belgrade has called on the Serbs to end the blockade, refrain from violence and abandon the referendum and same time several EU nations, especially Germany, want Serbia’s government to make deals with Pristina so that Serbia could get EU candidate status this Spring.

In Brussels, the EU said it was preparing for a new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at easing tensions in northern Kosovo. “There is a particular situation in the north that needs a solution, but neither violence nor barricades, or a referendum contributes to it,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “Only a dialogue can achieve that.” (Source AP ) Earlier the EU pressured Serbia intensely in November and December, demanding that it force the northern Kosovo Serbs to remove their barricades in the name of “freedom of movement”. KFOR fought several actions against barricades, inflicting – and taking – casualties.

The burned down border crossing Jarinje on Kosovo's northern frontier with Serbia in the early hours on July 28, 2011. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to Exit-strategy?

However the western powers have on the drawing board also an other strategy of fostering change to avoid reinforcing the status quo in the north. The press in Pristina has reported about secret meetings between the Kosovo government, the US ambassador and chief of the International Civilian Office (ICO), Pieter Feith,on a new plan to push the UN out of the north. An “EU House” will be established in the north to promote the “European perspective” and to cooperate with “progressive forces” willing to work with Pristina, “parallel” municipalities in the north would remain unrecognized and “Advisory Councils led by moderate Kosovo Serbs” chosen by Pristina taking place from democratically elected bodies in Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. To make space for these innovations the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM), that administers north Mitrovica under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, will be closed.

Also the International Steering Group (ISG) had meeting on January 24th in Vienna to deside its 2012 program for Kosovo. Despite its name ISG represents only countries which have advocated Kosovo Albanian separatism, cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts.cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts and try to underestimate UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – which btw represents in Kosovo highest international law. Anyway ISG issued a communique calling upon the government of Kosovo to continue to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, aiming to complete outstanding elements so that the period of “supervised independence” could terminate by the end of this year. While the outcome both politically and on operation theatre has been modest as best and the results related to investments almost non-visible, ISG probably his hurry to implement fast exit-strategy.

Marko Prelec from International Crisis Group concludes well the situation now since last summer tensions started in his post Update on Northern Kosovo Barricades. A quote:

The situation shows with crystal clarity the folly of the “freedom of movement” campaign, which cost tens of millions of Euros (flying Kosovo officials to, and from, the border day after day runs into serious money), dozens of injuries, made travel more difficult for real people and achieved nothing. All this started because of the basic disputes between Kosovo and Serbia, over Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity. Trying to use issues like freedom of movement – or the rule of law – as tools to change locals’ minds about sovereignty issues, rather than as ends in themselves, just damages the tool. The dispute isn’t a technicality and cannot be resolved as though it were.

or back to Dialogue?

Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has poor history. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks frequently over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

The original or better to say official aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress. Thus the multiethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multiethnic province more mono-ethnic one.

Rewrite History: The Map of Destroyed Shrines in Post-war Kosovo

(To see picture above in full size click here!)

The new situation has forced also International Crisis Group (ICG) to admit the defeat of its Kosovo policy recommendations during last decade. ICG has acted as informal extension of U.S. State Department however pretending to be neutral mediator and think tank. During earlier “status” negotiations 2005 it endorsed preconditions before talks and afterwards supported sc Ahtisaari plan. Now in their new analysis ”Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion”  ICG sees Kosovo’s partition with land swap one of possible solutions during coming talks between Belgrad and Pristina.

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those parts south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Serbia still runs municipalities, courts, police, customs and public services, and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) has been unable to deploy more than a token presence there.

During the course of events, the Ahtisaari Plan was implemented in south Kosovo, the north, however, remained outside Kosovo institutions and the ICO, and the Ahtisaari Plan was not implemented there. The Ahtisaari Plan derived a formula that would allow Kosovo Serbs to have their own local institutions and communal life with continued linkages to Serbia, but within the framework of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. If partition option – which in my opinion is pragmatic, the best and even realistical way to solve Kosovo conflict – is not yet possible so then the Ahtisaari Plan might be temporary base for compromise. The Plan however needs some modification. A new follow-up – entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’ – is presented by TransConflict and it might be achievable as the policy paper is authored by Gerard Gallucci, the former UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica.

My Scenario

Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

(Ari Rusila)

US based Freedom House gave in their last report (2012) rank partly free to Kosovo related to political rights and civil liberties (5,4 points respectively), while Serbia got rank free (2,2) and e.g also Croatia (1,2), Bulgaria (2,2) and Romania (2,2) got rank free, while Bosnia-Herzegovina (4,3) and Albania (3,3) fell to category partly free. (Note: Each country is assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 7 for both political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.) So even western powers must addmit that despite billions of dollars for Kosovo state-building efforts during last 12 years the outcome is that the protectorate still is among the worst in region related to political rights and civil liberties. One could ask why then Kosovo Serbs should go backwards by integrating to that society when better the alternative could be integrate also officially to more developed Serbia.

In my opinion Kosovo will remain a frozen conflict probably whole this decade. The western powers can not addmit – yet – that their intervention was a mistake, international community can not addmit its failure with capasity-/state-building efforts after squandering billions of Euros, noor that instead of multiethnic democracy the out outcome mono-ethnic tribe-society.  EULEX etc will continue to build some facades and pseudo-activities like it used to do, Pristina pretends that north is integral part of their quasi-independent pseudo-state which the North never has been, the Kosovo institutions do not exist in the north, and it is very unlikely that they will be established there soon. Hard-line Serbs keep claim about Kosovo as Serbian province, which it indeed has been but after 1999 situation on the ground changed; instead the today’s government in Belgrade might change in next elections. What is clear after referendum is that population in Kosovo’s northern municipalities does not want to integrate Pristina lead institutions, they want to continue their living as part of Serbia like they always have been, in short they want reunify northern municipalities with Serbia again.

After this quite pessimistic view one can ask if there is any other way forward. From my point of view there is the negotiation option. But this time negotiations should base facts on the ground instead of high-flown ideas in Washington and Brussels, around negotiation table in addition to Belgrade and Pristina representatives should be also local stakeholders from northern Kosovo and selected by local population. The referendum made positions clear for tripartite approach.

More eg in Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

Serbia: Kosovo vs EU?


Will Negotiation Slot for Kosovo be used?

November 8, 2010

When UN made new Kosovo related decision on September 2010 it was believed that resolution would enable a dialogue for resolving this frozen conflict. With minimal preconditions new direct talks between Belgrad and Pristina and a possible deal between local stakeholders could open the way for sustainable solution. However resent events have have resulted in stalemate: President of separatist Kosovo government resigned and dissolution of the government itself have put the focus in Kosovo on next elections which will be held in December 2010. Meanwhile also Serbia starts soon preparations for its next next elections, due by spring 2012.

Thus there is a narrow negotiation slot between the time when a new Kosovo government takes office and to end successfully before the Serbian election campaign makes any compromise impossible. The core question is if there is political will to start talks with the aim of reaching as comprehensive a compromise settlement as possible.

Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks half a dozen times over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

The original or better to say official aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress. Thus the multi-ethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multi-ethnic province more mono-ethnic one.


New elements in new talks

The new situation has forced also International Crisis Group (ICG) to admit the defeat of its Kosovo policy recommendations during last decade. ICG has acted as informal extension of U.S. State Department however pretending to be neutral mediator and think tank. During earlier “status” negotiations 2005 it endorsed preconditions before talks and afterwards supported sc Ahtisaari plan. Now in their new analysis ”Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion” ICG sees Kosovo’s partition with land swap one of possible solutions during coming talks between Belgrad and Pristina. ICG notes that Pristina will not accept partition but gives some hints it might consider trading the heavily Serb North for the largely Albanian-populated parts of the Preševo Valley in southern Serbia. The (dead) Ahtisaari plan and expanded autonomy for North Kosovo are the other two conceivable solutions according ICG.

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those parts south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Serbia still runs municipalities, courts, police, customs and public services, and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) has been unable to deploy more than a token presence there.

Besides the status, autonomy degree of Northern Kosovo (or its also formal integration with Serbia) the third key question during planned talks is the security of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s most venerable monasteries and churches. The Church, fearful of a repeat of the March 2004 mob violence that left many religious sites in smoking ruins, wants more than extensive protection promised in the Ahtisaari plan; extra-territoriality, treaty guarantees and protection by an international force after NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR) leave could be solution.

However question of returns seems not be in priority list any more. During Nato bombings some 200.000 Serbs and some thousands of Roma were expelled from there to northern Serb-dominated part of province or to Serbia and due the security problems or economical reasons they have not returned or are not even planing to come back to their (destroyed) homes.


Kosovo or EU

European Union must be united in its demands that Serbia must first recognize Kosovo as an independent country if it is to be granted membership, suggest Martti Ahtisaari, Wolfgang Ischinger and Albert Rohan. “Only a united position of the European Union, combined with the statement that Serbia’s membership in the European Union is impossible until this problem is solved in its entirety, could result in a change of positions, both among ordinary Serbs and within their government,” write the three diplomats. The three also warn that the current calm in Kosovo is not sustainable until Serbia is forced to recognize Kosovo. “No one should be deceived by the current relative calmness in Kosovo. The last tragedies in the Balkans have shown that unresolved problems sooner or later turn into open conflicts,” write the diplomats. (Source Serbianna)

I have my – not so well-disposed – opinion about Mr. Ahtisaari and his negotiation skills related to Kosovo. Instead repairing his earlier mistakes EU in my opinion should start to distance itself from U.S. cowboy policy. Now many Europeans realize they were hoodwinked into recognizing Kosovo’s independence on the pretence it would resolve problems and bring peace – it didn’t happen; a new approach is needed.


Would Serbia be prepared to trade sovereignty over Kosovo for membership of the EU? Not according to a Gallup poll in which 70% opposed the suggestion that Serbia relinquish its claim over its southern province in return for joining the EU. About the same proportion felt that Kosovo ‘has to remain a part of Serbia’ and said that Serbia would never recognise Kosovo. At the same time, a relative majority of 43% seemed resigned to accept that Kosovo would be independent one day, regardless of what Serbia did to prevent it. In other poll a total of 74.5 percent Kosovo Albanians supported the idea of forming a single state which would be inhabited by ethnic Albanians, and 47.3 percent believe this ambition would be realized soon. Albanians today also live in north-western Greece , western Macedonia , southern Serbia and southern Montenegro.

From other side Kosovo cannot even begin the EU accession process because five EU member states do not recognise its independence.


What’s the local opinion

A Gallup survey revealed growing disillusion with the new status among those who had been so hopeful. When Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 there was great optimism among the territory’s ethnic Albanians, if not among ethnic Serbs. Although three-quarters of Kosovo Albanians said they felt independence had been a good thing, this was considerably fewer than the 93% who had greeted the unilateral declaration of independence in 2008. Ethnic Serbs, meanwhile, became yet more convinced that independence had been a mistake: 80% said it was a ‘bad thing’ in 2009, compared to 74% a year earlier.

Despite being less positive in 2009 that Kosovo’s independence was a good thing, almost half (48%) of Kosovo Albanians said things in the country were going in a good direction. Hardly any Kosovo Serbs agreed that the country was going in a good direction (2% vs. 86% who disagreed).


Doubts also grew within both communities about the possibility of peaceful coexistence. In 2008, over seven out of ten Kosovo Albanians had said that they could live peacefully with ethnic Serbs. This fell to six out of ten in 2009. Kosovo Serbs, always sceptical on the question, became even more so: in 2008, 17% thought peaceful coexistence was possible, but by 2009 this had shrunk to 12%. (Source: Focus On Kosovo Independence)


In Kosovo, meanwhile, the International Civilian Representative and EU Special Representative has a thankless task: neither of the territory’s two largest ethnic groups is convinced of the benefits of an international presence. In the 2009 Gallup poll more ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians saw no need for an International Civilian Representative/EU Special Representative, rather than thought it necessary. A considerable number of ethnic Albanians nevertheless expressed support for the work being done by the EULEX mission for maintaining stability and security in the disputed territory. Kosovo Serbs, by contrast, were dismissive of its role.


The bottom line

The international community should facilitate as complete a settlement as is possible, leaving it up to the parties themselves to decide how far and in what direction they can go to achieve sustainable compromise. According ICG “The most controversial outcome that might emerge from negotiations would be a Northern Kosovo-Preševo Valley swap in the context of mutual recognition and settlement of all other major issues”. As I have propagated this outcome as pragmatic solution for years I have nothing against to this result, at least it with nearly all aspects is better than situation today and prospects for future. On the other hand stagnation with Kosovo case paralyses regional progress too.

A slight risk – according some international observers – may be that border changes could provoke mass migration by Kosovo Serbs now living south of the Ibar, as well as destabilizing separatism in neighboring Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. However from my viewpoint migration from enclaves is already ongoing, Macedonia has developed practice to copy with separatism and Bosnia is destabilising due internal reasons without outside help.

Officially (UNSC resolution1244) Kosovo is international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission, practically it is today a pseudo-state with good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state. This time (hopefully and finally) real talks between local stakeholders with unpredicted but possible compromise can end this frozen conflict, but “negotiation slot” is time-wise narrow and should be started to use this winter. Failure to negotiate in the next months would probably freeze the conflict for several years, as the parties entered electoral cycles, during which the dispute would likely be used to mobilize nationalist opinion and deflect criticism of domestic corruption and government failures.


Some of my related articles:
Kosovo after ICJ ruling
Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?My critics due Mr.Ahtisaari’s Nobelprize: Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave? and his peace mediation methods: 500.000 bodies or sign! and outcome in Kosovo: Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state




Kosovo after ICJ ruling

July 22, 2010

Besides tribe leaders in Pristina also many separatist movements in Somaliland, Palestine, Abkhasia, South-Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and even Basks in Spain have been celebreting ICJ’s opinion on Kosovo. However the life in Kosovo probably will continue without dramatic change. Whatever – depending point of view – status Kosovo has, the province is de facto administrated by international community. After “humanitarian intervention” and billions of squandered euros Kosovo is a quasi-independent pseudo-state with good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state. Official economy will be subvented with massive international aid, private economy will still be based to drug- and trafficking money (e.g. “Balkan Route – Business as usual” ), Nato troops secure that Kosovo Albanians are not killing too much members of minority communities, Pristina government tries to act with civilized manners, Serbs see their province still as an occupied territory. (More e.g. in “Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state” ).

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those pats south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Between ethnic groups a huge operation of international community is going on with its foggy ideas.

From my viewpoint the only way to get sustainable solution to Kosovo is through real negotiations between local stakeholders. To get start of real talks US should freeze or withdraw its recognition of Kosovo UDI; otherwise it takes too long time for Kosovo Albanians to find out that some negotiated outcome – be it cantonization, partition or whatever agreed – could be better than status quo. (About possible solutions “Dividing Kosovo – a pragmatic solution to frozen conflict” and “Cantonisation – a middle course for separatist movements” )


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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