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Reintegration

Chișinău to propose a “Vision” on the future “autonomous” status of Transnistria within Moldova

The Government of Moldova apparently has a plan for political reintegration of the breakaway Transnistria. At least, this what Vladimir Soloviev writes at Kommersant.

According to Soloviev, four sources communicated him that Chișinău elaborated a clear white paper, a so-called “Vision”, on the future status of the separatist entity within the Republic. The 8 and a half pages plan contain stipulations regarding the Russian military presence in the region, the military peacekeeping mission, the autonomous status of Transnistria and its official languages.

The white paper was reportedly written by the head of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS “Viitorul”) and ex-Ambassador to the US, Igor Munteanu, and the Romanian political scientist Iulian Chifu, who has worked as national security adviser to Romania ex-President Băsescu. At the same time, the text of the paper was edited by the Vice-Premier for Reintegration, George Balan, and Foreign Ministry’s representative in special cases, Ion Stavila. The paper was ready at the end of summer 2017 and might even be presented before the next Ministerial Council of the OSCE, taking place during December 7-8 in Vienna.

The document reportedly begins with the acknowledgment of the necessity to withdraw the Russian military troops (probably the Operative Group of Russian Troops) from the territory of Moldova. The withdrawal is seen as natural by Chișinău because Russia committed to finalizing it before 2003 at the 1999 OSCE Istambul Summit.

In addition, the paper underlines the importance of transforming the current trilateral (Moldova-Russia-Transnistria) peacekeeping mission into a multi-national civil one.

A completely new approach to reintegrating Transnistria regards the provisions on the official languages to be established in Transnistria. Besides the Russian and Ukrainian official languages, Chișinău would like to replace the “Moldovan language” (Cyrillic script) with the Romanian language. This aspect might raise questions not only in Transnistria but also on the right bank. The Socialist and Communist MPs in Chișinpu are currently blocking a ruling of Constitutional Court to make Romanian an official language- as it is in Moldova’s declaration of independence.

More important, the “Vision” paper offers an autonomous status to Transnistria, a status similar to that of Gagauzia established in 1994 by an organic law. Specifically, Transnistria would keep its constitution, leader of the region, parliament, and government, but would not be able to pass laws, just normative acts.

The interlocutors of the Kommersant reporter, however, believe Chișinău will not offer everything in the first place, but would rather start from “timid positions”.

This “Vision” is said to be the first real written plan of the constitutional authorities of Moldova on Transnistria’s future status. In 2003, a Russia-backed plan often called Kozak Memorandum was rejected in the last moments by the Moldovan then-President Vladimir Voronin, who encountered the large opposition of the majority of the population to a plan federalizing the Republic and giving equal rights to Transnistria in foreign policymaking.

President Igor Dodon was first to react to the reports about the “Vision”, claiming it does not correspond to the approaches to solving the Transnistrian political conflict:

“We elaborated our vision, whose basis was: the preservation, consolidation and international recognition of the permanent status of neutrality of Moldova, the right to self-determination in case of Moldova losing its statehood”, declared Dodon for RIA Novosti. President’s plan might emerge from that of his Socialists’ Party, who wanted a federalized Moldova to include Gagauzia and Transnistria on an equal basis.

The recent 5+2 talks in Vienna apparently did not include negotiations on the political status of the Transnistrian region within the Republic of Moldova.

The recent IRI poll results indicate that the majority, 70%, of Moldovans see Transnistria as an ordinary part of Moldova without having any autonomous status:

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

Reintegration

Russia sides with Tiraspol on the “border checkpoints” at Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge

26 April 2018- Another session of the Joint Control Commission took place in Bender this week. After accepting the end of the mandate of a Russian military observer, Vitaly Bogarchuk, the JCC went on with the discussion of the weekly reports on the Security Area.

The discussion was more intense on the solution for the illegal installing of the “border checkpoints” of the Transnistrian administration next to the Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge.

According to the press-release of the Moldovan delegation, the solution of eliminating the checkpoints of the “border policemen”, “customs officers” and “migrational officers” was proposed again to the JCC. The Moldovan delegation reiterated its proposal on creating a joint mechanism of ensuring free movement on the bridge by the Joint Peacekeeping Forces, the Moldovan police, and the Transnistrian “militsia”.

Unlike before, the head of the Russian delegation, Ilya Uvarov, sided this time with the Transnistrian delegation and rejected the proposal of the Chișinău delegates. The given reason for rejecting the proposal was the claim that the issue is not within the competences of the JCC, but a topic for the political representatives to negotiate. According to Novostipmr, the Transnistrian delegation head, Oleg Belyakov, complained that Moldovan representatives made insults, while not analyzing the proposals of Tiraspol.

The debate was closed and left for the session on 3 May.

Previously, Chișinău proposed that, in accordance with the JCC principles and the 1992 Agreement, a viable solution for Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge would be leaving the competence of ensuring free movement and road safety at the given bridge to the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (checkpoint number 11 is nearby), but also to the Moldovan road police and the Transnistrian similar structure (ГАИ).

Chișinău proposes that car traffic on Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge be checked only by peacekeepers and road policemen

Reopened only in November 2017, Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge over Nistru river was blown up by the Transnistrian separatist forces in 1992, then reconstructed in 2000 with the European financial support (30 million lei), but could not be inaugurated due to political misunderstandings between Chișinău and Tiraspol.

The bridge is currently in the competence of the Joint Control Commission, who controls the peacekeeping troops in the neighboring area.

In the opening protocol, Chișinău and Tiraspol committed to not use Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge for military goals and offered the Joint Control Commission the authority to open the bridge. However, it appears that the separatist authorities ignore the principle of free movement of people and goods between the two banks. The Transnistrian authorities apparently already activated a customs control checkpoint in Bîcioc which most probably obstructs the free movement. Krasnoselsky himself with his prime-minister Alexandr Martynov visited the checkpoint after the inauguration of the bridge.

The Joint Control Commission ( Russian: Объединенная контрольная комиссия – ОКК, Romanian- Comisia Unificată de Control) is a trilateral peacekeeping force and joint military command structure from Moldova, Transnistria, and Russia, which operates in a buffer zone on the border between the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

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Reintegration

Dodon with Krasnoselski at Bender: Peacekeeping mission on Nistru needs to continue

25 April 2018- The President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, conducted a visit to the Transnistrian region and had talks with the local leader Vadim Krasnoselski at Bender.

According to the Presidency press-release, Dodon and Krasnoselski exchanged their opinions on the implementation of a “package of eight” agreed by them in January 2017, especially in the case of the free movement across the Nistru river banks. Both welcomed the signing of the protocol decision on the participation of Transnistrian cars in the international traffic.

A common position was held on the viability of the peacekeeping mission:

“We discussed the role of the peacekeeping mission on Nistru. I want to confirm my position about the success of this mission and I want to underline that all parties involved are fulfilling their obligations. I think that this mission should be continued and it is inconvenient to raise questions on shutting it down…”, said Dodon quoted by the Transnistrian “Presidency”.

“I am sure that we deserved peace in our land and (this) peacekeeping (mission) should be researched and applied in other conflict zones, but not excluded. Nevertheless, there is a lot of discussion on the Operative Group of Russian Troops. Transnistria traditionally sees OGRT as a part of the peacekeeping (mission)”, declared Krasnoselski.

Dodon and Krasnoselski also mentioned that they would meet more regularly.

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Reintegration

Chișinău and Tiraspol agree on admission of Transnistrian cars into international traffic

The Moldovan and Transdnistrian Chief Negotiators, Cristina Lesnic (l) and Vitaly Ignatiev (r), sign an agreement on the mechanism for the participation of vehicles from Transnistria in international road traffic, Bender, 24 April 2018. (OSCE/Anna Vorobeva)

24 April 2018- The owners of vehicles registered in the Transnistrian region will be able to receive neutral license plates for admission into the international traffic starting from 1 September 2018. An agreement in this regard was signed in Bender between the Moldovan constitutional authorities and the Tiraspol separatist administration.

According to a press-release of the Moldovan Reintegration Bureau, the neutral license plates of non-commercial vehicles will have three letters and three numbers. The car license is agreed by both parties, in accordance with the 1969 Vienna Convention.

The registration of Transnistrian vehicles will be conducted in the offices in Tiraspol and Râbnița with the participation of the Moldovan authorities. Chișinău and Tiraspol will reportedly have two different databases on the vehicles with neutral plates. The car owners wanting to keep their Transnistrian number plates will be able to travel only within the territory of Moldova- one car cannot have one neutral and one Transnistrian plate at the same time.

The protocol decision (Tiraspol’s “MFA” published it in Russian) will be applied since 1 September 2018. The parties reserved their right to suspend the mechanism in case of systematic violations.

The Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Ambassador Michael Scanlan, commended the leadership and collaboration demonstrated by the Sides: “It is the constructive negotiation approach between the Sides and the personal engagement of the Moldovan and Transdniestrian leadership, which made this success possible. It is a success story for both Chisinau and Tiraspol”, he said. “When the joint implementation of the new mechanism begins this September, the trust between the Sides will deepen even further.”

The European Union welcomed the agreement between Chișinău and Tiraspol, describing it as a “positive dynamic in the Transnistrian settlement process”, but pointing at the importance of swift and thorough implementation of the agreement.

The US Department of State also welcomed the agreement on the Transnistrian participation in international traffic:

The United States supports a comprehensive settlement of the Transnistria conflict, and we welcome this week’s agreement to allow vehicles from Transnistria to legally travel on roads outside of Moldova. This will bring real benefits to the lives of people on both sides of the Nistru River. 

Many experts and civil society representatives in Chișinău criticized the Moldovan authorities for giving away sovereignty to the Transnistrian regime:

“This submission is absolutely unjustified, because it does not reffer to neither the human rights, nor the Transnistrian conflict settlement (…) (This) does not get us close, but puts us away from the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict. First, the documents institutionalize the acts issued by the anti-constitutional structures on the left bank of Nistru. This document does not get us close to the conflict settlement and risks to become a dangerous precedent for Ukraine”, IPP expert Oazu Nantoi told Ziarul de Gardă.

“I think it is needless to mention that through these projects, the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova and the Tiraspol regime is effectively legalized through the policy of small steps. At the same time, these projects represent major risks for the fiscal discipline and budget collection. This mechanism creates new premises for avoiding the standard car import procedure and allows the Tiraspol regime to get new financial resources, the registration of vehicles through corruption schemes…”, writes Expert-Grup expert Sergiu Gaibu for Moldova.org.

Quoted by Deschide.md, IDIS Viitorul expert Rosian Vasiloi accused the OSCE Ambassador Scanlan of too much involvement in the negotiation process on the Transnistrian cars’ issue, a problem that does not contribute but further distances the conflict settlement. Vasiloi also criticized the brought example of German regional license plates:

„The German Ambassador made reference to the German model of registering cars. But we cannot apply it in the Republic of Moldova, because in Germany all mechanisms are regulated by the national law and the lands are part of an united country, which we lack here”, said Vasiloi.

The issue of Transnistrian vehicles’ participation in the international traffic has been included on the agenda in the Berlin protocol from 2016.

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