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Reintegration

The Cobasna Warehouse, the Ribnita Metallurgical Plant and the vignette: Here’s what the Transnistrian leader says about the requirements of Chisinau and the OSCE

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On May 12th, deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Cristina Lesnic, and OSCE Special Representative for the Transnistrian settlement process, Franco Frattini, held a press briefing. The two asked for a visit to the Cobasna military deposit, they welcomed the Moldovan government’s involvement in canceling the embargo imposed by Ukraine on the Ribnita metallurgical plant and requested explanations from Krasnoselski about the vignette for Moldovan drivers for the Transnistrian region.

However, after the meeting between Frattini and Krasnoselski, nothing got mentioned from the requirements of Chisinau, besides the fact that the political process in Moldova stagnated the negotiation process and that there is a need to add the telecommunications, the common relations between the banks and the freedom of delivery to post in Transnistria to the list of negotiations.

The Ribnita Metallurgical Plant

Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Cristina Lesnic, admitted that the Moldovan government has been involved in resolving the issue of canceling the embargo imposed by Ukraine on the Ribnita metallurgical plant. Lesnic did not specify whether this is a letter signed by Prime Minister Pavel Filip to the Ukrainian leadership requesting the cancellation of the sanction applied to the Ribnita metallurgical plant.

Vinyl of 100 euro per year

The Tiraspol administration has introduced a vignette for drivers on the right bank of the Nistru river, so those who will travel in the Transnistrian region will pay ± €100 per year.

The OSCE Special Representative assured that during his visit to Tiraspol he would ask for explanations.

“The fact that tax is charged per person understands how this could affect freedom of movement. The amount is around €100 a year is a big sum for the inhabitants here. We will demand explanations from our colleagues in Tiraspol,” Franco Frattini said.

What the Tiraspol leader says after Frattini’s visit

According to the Transdniestrian press, Krasnoselski said that the political process of the Republic of Moldova is stagnating in the process of negotiations with Transnistria, as the government was not yet formed. There was no mention of the requirements of Chisinau regarding the Cobasna deposit and the vignettes.

The separatist leader from Tiraspol told OSCE Special Representative Franco Frattini that there are other issues that should be negotiated: telecommunications, the termination of political criminal cases, joint relations between banks and the freedom to deliver postal services in Transnistria.

Reintegration

BBC about Transnistria’s independence day: “Celebrating a nation that doesn’t exist”

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There are several perspectives in the world on what Transnistria is: a breakaway state, a separatist region that is technically part of Moldova, or an independent state that is wrongfully not recognised by most of world’s countries and international organisations. Either way, it is an enigmatic and attractive region in Europe that is visited annually by thousands of tourists, including international journalists who write or make documentaries about it.

That is also the case of Sarah Reid from BBC who has visited Transnistria and let the world know her perspective on how things are there.

First of all, the author explained what this region represents: “a sliver of land tracing Moldova’s border with Ukraine for 400 km […] the tiny Eastern European nation, formally called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), doesn’t officially exist, but it has its own government, currency and passport.”

Officially, the region of Transnistria is not recognised by any member of the United Nations despite declaring its independence in 1990, none but only three states – Abkhazia, the Republic of Artsakh, and South Ossetia – all also disputed territories, as it is described in the BBC article.

The fact that Transnistria seems stuck in the Soviet Union is highlighted in the article, that being one of the most interesting things that draws the international tourists attention. “Indeed, from the imperious statue of Lenin guarding Transnistria’s Brutalist parliament building to its streets named after Communist luminaries and significant dates, it’s certainly not short on Soviet-era relics,” is stated in the article.

However, the region still has few attractions and even less tourism infrastructure beyond Tiraspol. Most of the estimated 20,000 annual visitors come on day trips from Moldova. “Indeed, with regular buses from Chisinau to Tiraspol and visa-free entry to Transnistria (a hotel reservation must be produced at the border posts maintained by the Transnistrian military to stay more than one day), it’s relatively easy to visit – although navigating the nation as a non-Russian speaker is no simple task,” said Sarah Reid.

On the day of celebration its “independence”, Transnistria was presented as a “proud little “country” that marches to its own beat.”

“With highlights including a fancy rifle-twizzling routine and military commanders zooming around in Soviet-era jeeps saluting assembled troops, the 2019 military parade marking Transnistria’s 29th year of self-declared independence didn’t exactly challenge the stereotype.”

Other curious realities described in the Reid’s article are that Transnistria’s people hold dual or triple nationality with Russia, Moldova or Ukraine, “so they’re not exactly trapped in this landlocked enclave characterised by sleepy villages, abandoned Soviet factories, and vineyards that supply Tiraspol’s enormous Kvint brandy distillery.”

Also, Transnistria has always considered itself a part of the Russian cultural space, three main ethnic groups residing there, Russian being the common tongue, Russian flags fluttering alongside Transnistrian flags on all Tiraspol’s (the capital city of the region) buildings, and with Russian soldiers taking part in the Independence Day parade.

Source: BBC| Sarah Reid

“Despite nearly a third of its 1,500 troops forming part of a trilateral peacekeeping force, the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF)’s presence in Transnistria irks Moldovan and Western officials. But with one of the largest USSR weapons dumps in Europe under their guard just 2 km from the Ukrainian border, it’s no wonder Russia has ignored calls from the UN to withdraw its troops. Plus, it has the support of Transnistria’s pro-Russian government, which considers the ORGF an essential stabilising force,” it is pointed out by the BBC author.

Overall, Transnistria is described as a calm region, despite all its conflictual background. “I discovered that “calm” is a fair description of Tiraspol. Despite the strangeness of this semi-deserted city from a bygone era, rarely have I felt safer wandering the streets of a European capital. And while big crowds are something I would usually avoid in a frozen conflict zone, the Independence Day celebrations couldn’t have been more family-friendly,” Reid confessed in her article.

Still, “with Moldova reluctant to give it up, and Russia unlikely to get out, becoming a truly independent nation may remain a pipe-dream for the people who call Transnistria home,” concluded the article.

Find the full text here.

Photo: BBC| Sarah Reid

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Reintegration

Promo-Lex: “The illegal presence of the Russian army on the territory of Moldova represents a support of an administration that deliberately violates the human rights.”

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One of the most controversial territory in Europe, a self-proclaimed republic, which officially is part of the Republic of Moldova – Transnistria, still has on its territory two Russian military contingents since the Fourteen Army of the Ministry of Defence of the Soviet Union was established in the region in 1956.

The Russian troops have been renamed and transferred to Transnistria. Nowadays, they are the Russian Troops Task Force (GOTR), which safeguards the ammunition depots belonging to the Russian Federation and the peacekeeping mission forces sent by Russian Government on the Transnistrian territory.

While the Russian Federation insists that its military presence in the Republic of Moldova aims merely at ensuring and maintaining the peace in the region, the international community, the constitutional authorities and the majority of the population of
Moldova, perceive the situation as an occupation. All in all, the situation is regarded as a real danger to regional security.

According to a Promo-Lex report on Russian Military presence and its impact on human rights situation, “Moscow actually used its control over the former USSR Armed Forces’ military bases to maintain their military presence on the territories of the newly independent countries that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union,” such as Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia.

As the report states, the Russian Government “used its military presence not to strengthen security of the countries of deployment, but primarily for the sake of Russian geopolitical and economic interests, including strengthening of own influence on neighbouring states.”

As a result of the lack of proper legislation and oversight mechanisms to supervise the compliance of the Russian military presence with the legislation of Moldova, bilateral agreements, as well as the international law, serious human rights violations and significant deterioration in human rights situation resulted.

Until October 1, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued more than 28 judgements in over 56 Transnistrian cases against the Russian Federation, the total sum of claims awarded by the Court amounted more than 5.5 million euro, as the Promo-Lex report stated. That includes cases of detention in inhuman and degrading conditions, transmission of complainants to illegal region structures, torture, ill-treatment, simulated executions, rape, murder, lack of effective investigation into the death of persons who were forcedly enrolled in the Transnistrian military units, limiting the right to freedom of movement and seizure of transport means, etc. A direct or indirect participation of soldiers from the Russian military forces established in Transnistria was recorded in all these cases.

“The illegal presence of the Russian army on the territory of the Republic of Moldova represents a support of an administration deliberately violating the human rights, and in the absence of an opportunity to influence the state of play in the field of human rights, Russia is entirely responsible for the violations, as a subject of the international law,” concluded the report.

Also, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova concluded that the Russian Federation rather than withdrawing its occupation troops from the east, strengthened its military presence, which is a violation of the constitutional provisions on the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and permanent neutrality of Moldova, as well as an infringement of the international law, as it is declared in the report.

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Politics

Maia Sandu urges Tiraspol to lift the travel ban for officials of the Republic of Moldova

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Prime Minister Maia Sandu had a meeting with representatives of the mediators and observers in the “3+2” negotiation format. The discussions focused on the evaluation of the current stage of the Transnistrian settlement process.

Maia Sandu requested assistance from the “3+2” representatives in determining the Transnistrian party to eliminate in the near future the ban on traveling to the left bank for all citizens of the Republic of Moldova.

According to a government communiqué, the prime minister stressed that the “5+2” negotiation format for the Transnistrian settlement should become a platform to help fight corruption and smuggling.

“We have also discussed this in Kiev and I am glad that we have the same position in relation to this issue. The fight against corruption and smuggling in the Transnistrian region must be a priority. We will ensure that both state institutions and government officials will no longer be involved in corruption and smuggling schemes with Tiraspol, as it had happened in the past. As long as the Transnistrian region will be a major source of illegal enrichment for some people, there will be no real progress in identifying a political solution.”

In this context, Maia Sandu mentioned the need to prolong the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM).

The head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Claus Neukirch, reiterated that securing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, with a special status for the Transnistrian region, is the key factor in the mission’s work, but also the main goal of the “5+2” format.

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