Breakthrough in Transnistria?

Apparently a solution for the conflict around the breakaway region of Transnistria has been found. Vladimir Socor reports in the Eurasia Daily Monitor about the deal between Russia and Moldova and he highlights the anticipated consequences for the Moldovan constitution. The proposed settlement plan consists of three interrelated documents:

The first document paves the way for a joint declaration by Voronin and Transnistria “president” Igor Smirnov regarding parallel self-dissolution of the Moldovan parliament and Transnistria Supreme Soviet and the calling of new elections. The two chambers would vote to adopt this document.

Under a second document, right-bank Moldova and Transnistria (on left bank of the Nistru River) would hold parallel but separate new elections by November 2007 (Moldova’s elections are not due until March 2009). The Moldovan Parliament would set aside 18 to 19 seats (out of 101) for deputies from Transnistria, proportionately to the latter’s population. Transnistria would also be represented in Moldova’s central government by a first deputy prime minister and deputy ministers in each ministry, to be delegated by Tiraspol.

In accordance with the third document, Moldova would “guarantee” to maintain its existing status of permanent neutrality, not join NATO, and rule out the stationing of troops other than Russian ones on Moldova’s territory. For its part, Russia would withdraw its troops within two years, provided that the political elements of this “settlement” are implemented.

I have my doubts about this”settlement”. Of course “democratisation” sounds attractive but without an agreement on a truly free and fair electoral procedure (including international/non-Russian election observers) it will not work. Moreover, the plan does not seem to touch the problem of the Transnistrian security services/ military structures. The plan also gives the impression that the Transnistrian elite would just be ‘transferred’ to the Moldovan parliament/government (where they would enjoy immunity?). Another important issue for further negotiations are the numerous constitutional problems of this plan.

Also, the planned withdrawal of the Russian army in two years sounds familiar: Russia announced in 1993 to withdraw its troops by 1996 and again in 1999 to end the presence by 2002. Since this plan has been developed outside the official 5+2 negotiation format, it remains to be seen if it will be more successful than the ‘Kozak-Memorandum‘ that was also negotiated bilaterally.

All in all, a very “Russian” settlement plan…

Update: Edward Lucas also thinks that this settlement in Transdniestria is bad news for Moldova—and the West (from The Economist print edition)

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8 responses to “Breakthrough in Transnistria?

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  2. I had this gut feeling that when Russia wants, it can settle conflicts – at a high price for Moldova though. I am sure similarly Russia could resolve with a single swipe the South Ossetian conflict, maybe even Abkhazian (would be harder though).
    As long as the deal takes the country back to USSR, it will work overnight.

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  4. A bad deal? Only time will tell.

    The Kremlin can barter when something important is at stake.

    Take for example Tartarstan. Along with Chechnya, both pushed for independence from the Kremlin. Tartarstan hammered out a deal (quite a fuzzy one in fact), Dudayev didn’t, preferring to dissolve the parliament who were actually in favor of a deal, for his own ‘I know best’ opinions. Could the west offer a better deal?

    Well that might well depend on whether it was the EU or US involved. As for NATO, even NATO doesn’t know what it is really for (or have all the reports over the years about retaining its ‘credibility’ no credibility???).

  5. It is, no doubt, a totally crazy plan. And the decision-making process regarding this matter is as flawed as ever! As I mentioned in my blog, the wider public hears the about this the last, indirectly and from unofficial sources. It is a very important issue, and not something for one person (particularly pressured by a heavy-weight such as Putin) to decide upon.

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  7. I guess, mr. Sokor is a very imaginative man… Nobody knows this plan, just he does.

    Living in Tiraspol i know only one way to decide this problem: if only Dniester republic (which has never been a part of Moldova excepting Stalin’s era) will become a part of the Ukraine or Russia.

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