“Double standards” in settling international conflicts as a policy tool of the Western community of nations in the Balkan area


Report by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Dmitry Palamarchuk at the conference “The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic and the Republic of Serbia: protection of sovereignty in the face of international turbulence” held on November 26, 2015.

During today's international conference a clear trend has been emerged that there are a number of common features in the foreign policy environment created by the international community around Pridnestrovie and Serbia for many years. Historical, religious, cultural and integrative economic parallels have already been announced today.

 In turn, my report also addresses a quite fine, problematic and at the same time largely congruent, meaningful and applied aspect. In particular, this is about the policy of a number of Western countries, including the United States, on the conflict settlement in the Balkans and in the negotiation process between Pridnestrovie and Moldova.

In 2006 the federal state of Serbia and Montenegro was broken up into two sovereign and independent countries. The Republic of Serbia lost access to the sea and the territory that anciently was Serbia’s land on which, as they used to say, the best and most worthy Serbians had lived. Today, Montenegro is just a step away from joining NATO.

On February 17, 2008 Kosovo - the primordial sacred Serbian land, a place of legendary battles of the Serbian people with Turkish invaders, the territory which is still densely populated by many ethnic Serbians - unilaterally declared its independence.

On 22 July 2010 the International Court of Justice of the UN in The Hague, recognized the legality of the decisions of Kosovo authorities on declaration of independence from Serbia.

Today, Kosovo has been recognized by more than 110 countries, including the vast majority of member states of the European Union, the former Serbian region is admitted to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Olympic Committee. In the year of the unilateral declaration of independence 37 governments of the world allocated $ 1.9 billion of targeted assistance to Kosovo for development, which can hardly were effectively used. In 2013, Kosovo signed an agreement establishing a free trade zone with Turkey and currently holds similar negotiations with the European Union (despite the fact that a number of EU countries declared about the refusal to recognize Kosovo). I.e. negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo on the liberalization of trade are conducted separately, indicating an intention to cement the final partition of the Serbian state within the European Community.

On the other hand, Pridnestrovie declared its independence a year ahead of Kosovo – on 2 September, 1990, having its own currency and other components of a sovereign state, not less convincing than in the case with Kosovo has not still found the wide international recognition.

Pridnestrovie appealed actively to Kosovan, Abkhazian and South Ossetian precedents in 2008. At the end of 2013 at the Conference on Confidence-Building Measures in Landshut, Germany, President of the PMR Yevgeny Shevchuk made a report in which he proposed to Moldova’s leadership to hold a “civilized divorce” by analogy with the cases of Serbia and Montenegro, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and also called on the international community to recognize the new political and legal reality. That speech had a bombshell effect in the international media space and never became part of forming external actors’ policy on Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement process.

The reason for this approach is the active exploitation by the Western community of states of so-called “double standards” practice in relation to the processes of settlement of political and territorial conflicts in various parts of the world.

The vacuum of international legal regulation arising, inter alia, out of the objective dialectical contradiction of a number of fundamental principles of international law (the territorial integrity of states and the right of peoples to self-determination) freed largely the hands to Western states under the leadership of the United States on the Balkan Peninsula.

States which are NATO members purposefully provoked the strengthening of Kosovo's independence, sponsored the functionality of the territory and subsequently recognized the sovereignty of Kosovo’s Albanians over the Serbian native land.

It is characteristic that, at the same time government representatives of the US and several EU states refer to the exclusivity and uniqueness of the situation with Kosovo, which allegedly cannot serve as a precedent for other new states of the world. In particular, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, proving uniqueness of Kosovo’s case, mentioned combination of the following factors: the general context of the breakup of Yugoslavia, the alleged ethnic cleansing and crimes of Serbian authorities against the civilian population of Kosovo and the long period when the region was under the UN administration.

These arguments deserve an approximate comparative analysis. The first - the general context of the breakup of Yugoslavia. Needless to remind that the fact of existence of unresolved Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict is closely attended with imperfection in political and legal terms of the institutionalization of the breakup process of the USSR. And if in September 1991 Kosovo’s leadership was presented as typical separatists seeking to secede from Yugoslavia with a view to the joining to Albania, then in the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict Moldova rather than Pridnestrovie presents as a separatist.

Pridnestrovie remained a part of the USSR until the official end of its existence. The de facto division of Pridnestrovie and Moldova took place in full accordance with the laws of the Soviet Union with the parallel elimination of all legal premises for Moldova’s claims for the Pridnestrovian territory through the adoption of Declaration on Independence of the RM, eliminated the political and legal consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the USSR Law “On Formation of the Union Moldavian SSR”.

The fact of crimes against Pridnestrovie’s peaceful population during the armed aggression of the Republic of Moldova was recognized by the international tribunal in Moscow in 1993. It should only be reminded that the attack on Bendery was organized on the day, when the city held graduation ceremony.

Regarding the fact that Kosovo is under UN administration, Pridnestrovie exercises its sovereignty independently and with equal effectiveness on the controlled territory and does not need to do it (unlike Kosovo) in the designation of an international custody service and “protection racket”. In addition, the international involvement is that on the contact line between Pridnestroive and Moldova the UN-sanctioned international peacekeeping operation has already been provided for more than 23 years. In turn, the political negotiation process is conducted in a broad international format. By the way, we should remember that ten Moldovan peacekeepers participate in the KFOR, thereby legitimizing for the RM the secession of Kosovo from Serbia and forming a precedent for their own relations with Pridnestrovie.

Thus, application of mechanisms used for Kosovo by a significant part of the international community is even more justified in the case with Moldova-Pridnestrovie conflict, but this does not happen. Here, actually, lies a non-equilibrium approach of international actors to the conflicts in the Balkan region, this is the essence of the so-called “double standards” policy.

However, it is worth mentioning that the Western community of states not only recognized the unilateral secession of Kosovo, but it also actively forces today the Serbian side for a peaceful dialogue and the various concessions in the field of freedom of movement, transport, population documentation, telecommunications, etc. Decisions in these areas are difficult and, in fact, capitulatory for the Serbian side, are taken under pressure from the European Union.

In particular, since 2011 Kosovo’s identity and education documents have been recognized in Serbia. Thus, you can cross the border of Serbia with Bosnia and Herzegovina having Kosovo’s passports. In Pridnestrovie since 2001 a regular passport has been also issued, but travelling with it through the Moldovan state border is impossible. The Moldavian side does not recognize even absolutely non-political documents issued in Pridnestrovie, such as a birth certificate, despite the existing relevant agreements.

Serbia also recognizes Kosovo’s certifications on education, including all levels of the university, secondary school, technical and vocational education and the fifth level of qualification. At the same time, the Republic of Moldova does not implement the agreements earlier reached in this regard with Pridnestrovie. For the use of the Pridnestrovian diploma abroad Pridnestrovian graduates need to legalize them in Moldova, implying the passing the so-called “difference” [the subjects need to be passed in transferring to another education institution], including the Romanian language and history.

In 2015, the agreements in the field of telecommunications which are beneficial to Kosovo were brokered by the European Union. In particular, Kosovo received its own international dialing code, the Serbian state company “Telecom” was forced to obtain permission of the Kosovo authorities to work in Kosovo. Numerous meetings of expert (working) groups on telecommunications between Pridnestrovie and Moldova, held in 2012-2015, unfortunately, have not found the same readiness of the Moldovan side to compromise.

It should also be mentioned that in order to enter Kosovo drivers of vehicles registered in Serbia have to pay for an insurance policy in the amount of 60 euros for every 15 days of stay. When the Pridnestrovian side had intended to introduce compulsory motor liability insurance in its own territory with much more loyal charging, it provoked a serious wave of international outrage, and an entirely different in its essence agreement on mutual recognition of policies of obligatory motor insurance was reached in the framework of the dialogue.

All these agreements between Serbia and Kosovo suggest that the “European protectors” of Kosovo in the dialogue with Serbia very effectively contribute to defending Pristina’s interests. Everything is completely different in Moldova-Pridnestrovie dialogue.

Pridnestrovie considers such approaches as a clear manifestation of the notorious policy of “double standards” determined not by universal international legal principles, but Western countries’ specific interests in the Balkan region. This determines the need for cooperation between the states, affected by the Western policy, on the creation of a united front to counter negative effects of Western geopolitical and geoeconomic expansion in Eastern and Southern Europe. The Russian Federation could become a significant ally in this fight, consolidating today support of its ideological and historical backers.