Moldova’s conflict over the Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria, which seeks to join Russia, has been frozen since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Meanwhile, the country’s momentum for greater integration with the EU has been undermined by continuing corruption and the election of pro-Russia president Igor Dodon. Crisis Group monitors developments related to the Transnistrian conflict, Russia’s increasing involvement in Moldovan politics and the fallout of conflict in eastern Ukraine. As we engage Moldovan officials and policymakers in Brussels, we produce analysis and recommendations to contain the risk of escalation and further the resolution of Moldova’s separatist conflict.
OSCE reported “substantial progress” in 27 Nov talks on Transdniestrian settlement in Vienna in 5+2 format (OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, U.S., EU, Chisinau and Tiraspol). Sides confirmed and solidified progress on several social and economic issues, out of eight issues previously identified: includes early Nov agreement to reopen bridge over Dniestr river linking territories; plus issues of freedom of movement over river, Moldovan language schools in Transdniestria, and recognition of university diplomas in Moldova. Sides also made “clear commitment” to finalise remaining issues at beginning of 2018. European Parliament 15 Nov passed resolution praising reforms in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia, said they could be considered for membership in future. EU Eastern Partnership Summit issued declaration saying summit participants “acknowledge the European aspirations” of partners concerned, as stated in Association Agreements. Constitutional Court 31 Oct approved draft amendment to constitution to change official name of country’s language to Romanian, from Moldovan; pro-Russian President Dodon said change should require referendum.
With Romania’s expected entry into the European Union in 2007, the EU will share a border with Moldova, a weak state divided by conflict and plagued by corruption and organised crime. Moldova’s leadership has declared its desire to join the EU, but its commitment to European values is suspect, and efforts to resolve its dispute with the breakaway region of Transdniestria have failed to end a damaging stalemate that has persisted for fifteen years.
Resolving the Trandniestrian secessionist dispute in Moldova is vital to remove a potential source of chaos on the periphery of the expanding European Union, to implement an important part of the post-Cold War settlement, and to make Moldova itself a more viable state.
The conflict in the Transdniestrian region of the Republic of Moldova is not as charged with ethnic hatred and ancient grievances as others in the area of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and it is more conducive to a sustainable settlement.
Unresolved conflicts and breakaway territories divide five out of six of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership countries, most of them directly backed by the Russian Federation. But a policy of isolating the people living in these conflict regions narrows the road to peace.
Originally published in IWPR
Originally published in Politico