Moldova: sabotage against common sense


Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Dmitry Palamarchuk about the actual blockade against Pridnestrovie

The overview on “The Russian Federation's foreign policy and diplomatic activity in 2015” published on April 26 by the Russian Foreign Ministry gave a special attention to the problems of the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian settlement negotiation process. The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the dialogue between Kishinev and Tiraspol was greatly complicated after the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU (2014) by Moldova, followed by a virtual blockade of Pridnestrovie organized by the Moldovan side in coordination with Kiev, triggered dramatic worsening of the economic situation in the republic.

It was also noted that the further reduction in the dynamics of dialogue of mediators in the 5+2 format: only two of the planned five-six formal meetings took place during 2014, in 2015 – no meeting took place. Pursuant to the overview, the Russian side continued the course toward the restoration of full-fledged negotiation process, giving priority to the tactics of “small steps” in the relationship between the banks of the Dniester.

In the context of the recent aggravation of the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh it is necessary to understand what exactly is happening in Moldova - Pridnestrovie settlement process.

The conflict between Pridnestrovie and Moldova in the mirror of the global agenda of international communication

In the spring of 2016 after the completion of the next cycle of reassignments in the Republic of Moldova and the weak recovery of communication that followed then at the level of representatives on political issues and expert (working) groups, the dangerous trend repeatedly stressed by the Pridnestrovian side before, in 2014-2015, developed into regularity. The Republic of Moldova in the absence of an effective international response or unambiguous guiding calls from international partners, definitively drifted in relations with Pridnestrovie into the paradigm of the force unilateral suppression of Pridnestrovie’s potential in various fields.

The meetings held in March and April 2016 at various levels of dialogue found Moldova’s total lack of intention to negotiate and to make compromise decisions in the framework of a constructive approach “win-win”, which implies mutual advantage. Moldovan representatives, judging by the symptoms, solely “by  the go-ahead” of current Representative on Political Issues from the RM Gheorghe Balan or other top leaders of Moldova shy away from any ideas and proposals, “like from fire”, that could lead to constructive solutions in a varying degree.

Even those initiatives that are politically and economically profitable for the Republic of Moldova itself or are openly supported by the other 5+2 members, are being blocked by the Moldovan side to date, often the manner of impeding the effectiveness of the dialogue (of some Moldovan representatives) takes the form of “sabotage against common sense”.

It is appropriate to give an example of a situation with cargo railway communication through the territory of Pridnestrovie. The steps taking by the Moldovan side at present lead to the potential stagnation of the railway industry not only in the PMR, but also in Moldova itself, to the artificially lowering of the transit potential of the entire region, are fraught with non-execution of the previously reached agreement of 30 March 2012 which is regarded by all as quite successful. By virtue of the scale, the economic losses of Moldova from the “aggravation” of the situation with the railway, will exceed in absolute numbers the damage, as a result, which Pridnestrovie will suffer, but even this fact is not a persuasive argument for the Moldovan side.

The urge to deal another blow to the economy of Pridnestrovie and the welfare of its citizens, even prevails over the self-preservation instinct, and the prospect of “curing itself” has become very tangible for the Republic of Moldova now.

Unfortunately, the similar situation is developing in the field of road transport. Pridnestrovie on the basis of previously reached agreements of the negotiation process and the recommendations of international partners formulated a compromise offer, which was encouraged and supported by all participants of the “Permanent Conference ...”.

The draft protocol decision proposed by Pridnestrovie objectively absorbed into itself all the best and attractive for all involved players, was sent to the Moldovan side for studying along with the initiative to hold a meeting of relevant expert (working) groups on the development of transport and road facilities as early as in January 2016. However, the Moldovan counterparts tries to cut themselves off from reality by pretending that the Pridnestrovian side’s proposals simply do not exist. At least available experience of the work in the negotiation process allows us to characterize the RM’s disregard of the PMR’s transport initiative as unprecedented, because if earlier Moldovan representatives evading cooperation tried to maintain a minimum “politesse”, now experts on transport from Moldova “sit out” naturally.

Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Moldovan representatives responsible for the negotiation process are simply not able to allow the restoration of international passenger and cargo transportation of Pridnestrovie or the opportunity to move to the EU countries for private cars registered in the PMR, even within a reasonable compromise. This lack of flexibility, the failure to provide arguments in explaining this lack and the unwillingness to conduct the sane dialogue (or a dialogue on the whole) on “uncomfortable topics” permeates the content of the Moldovan side’s present approach in the negotiations  and put a bold question mark in relation to the prospects of positive development of the situation.

Meanwhile, the paradigm of negative actions is implemented with persistence, deserving a better use. The date of a possible launch of the joint control by Ukraine and Moldova at the checkpoint “Kuchurgan” is approaching. According to eyewitnesses, the customs crossing infrastructure were strengthened, new buildings appeared, which may be used for deployment of Moldovan customs officers and border guards.

However, the discussions held in recent months at various platforms, including within the framework of the meeting of expert (working) groups on customs cooperation of 29 March 2016, proved conclusively that the only driver of the project was political instructions of Moldova’s leadership. Neither Moldovan customs officers or representatives of Ukraine or other members of “Permanent Conference ...” and relevant organizations are able to give clear answers to questions about how the monitoring will be organized and how to stop the risks ensuing from this political deterministic project.

Moreover, realizing the seriousness of challenges and threats to the entire settlement process that may arise when the joint control project realize, all the international partners of the parties try to distance maximally from the problem, shifting the responsibility to  the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. According to the information available, some players without participating directly in the process, encourage the Ukrainian leadership behind the scenes in the implementation of this reckless step. The concerns articulated by Pridnestrovie in this regard convince only the Russian Federation as traditionally the most responsible and consistent participant of the settlement process. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after a meeting with his Moldovan counterpart drew attention to this problem, however, to all seeming, the Republic of Moldova have become accustomed to ignoring not only Pridnestrovie, but also the view of mediators and guarantors.

The Republic of Moldova’s unilateral steps are supplemented and strengthened periodically by militant signals and statements of some Moldovan officials. RM’s Representative on Political Issues Gheorghe Balan and Head of the Moldovan border police department Dorin Puriche already expressed in March-April this year in the spirit of hope for “the bankruptcy and collapse of the separatist regime”.

On April 22 during a meeting with the Ukrainian counterpart, RM’s Minister of Defence Anatol Shalaru became interested in the experience of “the Ukrainian army, including that obtained during the anti-terrorist operation”. I do not think there is a need to expand on the stupidity and extreme danger of messages and hints of this kind.

At the same time Moldova conducts (so far unsuccessfully) the policy towards reducing purposefully the effectiveness of the peacekeeping operation on the Dniester, with a view to transforming it, i.e. to winding up. Demarches against the peacekeeping process are permanent, showed themselves in Romanian aircrafts’ unsanctioned intruding in the Security Zone, the uncontrolled increase in the presence of Moldovan security services there, and in blocking discussions on the “main” agenda in the framework of the Joint Control Commission.

However, some mediators and observers in the negotiation process remain indifferent to the mentioned Moldova’s steps and signals, it is perceived cynically by the Moldovan political leadership as a tacit consent or indulgence to the suppression scenario. The suppression becomes a goal in itself for the Moldovan side and does not implies a strategic perspective for further actions, i.e. no participant of the scenario, at least, of those who implement it from the Republic of Moldova, does not predict the consequences of their actions further than a few steps. This “game” of weakening, ousting the enemy inside, by and large, of the unified system of communicating vessels always leads to the deterioration of situation for all, to the collapse of existing balance and destabilization.

For the Republic of Moldova the “game of aggravation” serves some intuitive way out of the status quo, perhaps being considered by someone even as zugzwang, in the framework of which any adequate steps and arrangements may, according to some, lead to strengthening Pridnestrovie’s sovereignty. The level of political culture of Moldovan authorities and society, as well as “short” historical memory do not allow those persons in the RM responsible for a dialogue with Pridnestrovie to assess enduring value, minimum comfort and social orientation of the status quo, its political, ideological and humanitarian expediency.

In this sense, preventing the destabilization of the situation in Pridnestrovie and Moldova’s relations seems justified for the entire present broad international communication, which was already affected by a significant number of crises in recent years. Currently, the process of international communication is characterized by the loss of confidence, the return of seemingly forgotten ideological cliché, the way out of the latent stage of the struggle for limitrophe areas and the general presentiment of the imminent redrawing of the political map of the world.

The rational interest of the entire world community would be to guarantee a safe evolutionary way of development, to maintain stability, controllability and safety, to prevent humanitarian disasters and extremes committed, for example, in provoking the so-called Arab Spring, to support the logic and consistency of transformation processes without unnecessary violent outburst.

Pridnestrovie plays this constructive round with readiness and responsibility as yet, often in spite of its own tactical interests, guiding by the wish to protect the peace and security of its citizens, refusing to the bitter to fall into a string of newly discovered crises that constitute a threat to the peaceful upward development.

This can be seen from the fact that even such traditionally biased platforms as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly or the PACE did not make their traditional “accusatory” resolutions against Pridnestrovie in 2013.

Thus, there is a quite paradoxical situation. Pridnestrovie, which in order to implement people’s will expressed in referenda and recorded in the foreign policy programme’s documents must obtain, all in all, fundamental change of the international community’s approaches to the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict, makes a greater contribution to the maintenance of existing architecture of cooperation and security, than the Moldovan side which have been “spoiled” by broad international support for a quarter of a century.

Psychologically, it is the Republic of Moldova that can be in more comfortable condition in view of the unequivocal endorsement of Moldova’s claims to the sovereignty of Pridnestrovie by the UN Member States. However, it is the Moldovan side that hard destroys the configuration favourable for it, not realizing that the broad international approval (or any other emotion common to all) has a way of transforming quickly in the face of the crisis.

Currently, under conditions of degradation of political consciousness in the RM, the loss of a sense of responsibility and the ability to soberly assess the situation without bringing it to the simultaneous impoverishment, absurd radicalization and chaos, the principled position of partners becomes especially in demand. The main task of the international community and, above all, external participants of the “Permanent Conference…” is to maintain the structure, in timely coercing the Republic of Moldova and its individual assistants to peace and dialogue (preferably preventive). It is hoped that a rational approach will prevail, and the crisis will not happen.

Source: Svobodnaya Pressa (Free Press)