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Peacemakers are the guarantor of peace and stability in Transnistria

04.02.2013 15:04

Alexander Novik

in the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. Currently the authorities and the people of the republic advocate for ensuring that "the Russian soldier, who has been standing on the banks of the river since Suvorov, remains in Transnistria."

After the cessation of bloodshed in the armed conflict in Transnistria, on July 21, 1992 in Moscow, the presidents of Moldova and Russia in the presence of a delegation of TMR signed an agreement on the Principles of a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transnistrian Region of the Republic of Moldova.

According to this agreement, to maintain peace and security in the area of conflict, a tripartite peacekeeping force was established (composed of Russian, Moldovan, and Transnistrian armed forces). At present, the joint peacekeeping forces in Transnistria comprise around 1,200 military personnel - 402 Russian, 492 Transnistrian and 355 Moldovan, as well as 10 military observers from Ukraine. The peacekeepers are serving in 15 stationary positions and checkpoints, located at key sites in the security zone, which stretches along the Dniester over 225 km and 12-24 km widthway.

The agreement signed in 1992 has been in force to the present day, for more than 20 years providing peace, stability and security in the region. According to experts, the peacekeeping operation in Transnistria is the most successful, productive, and efficient operation of its kind on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The principal criterion of this peacekeeping operation is the real peace in Transnistria: the main thing is that civilians are not killed here.

Today, however, some politicians, especially in Moldova, offer to change the format of the peacekeeping operation in the Dniester region, to withdraw from the conflict zone, of the Russian peacekeepers first of all. One of the statements made by the president of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti on the first day of tenure of the head of state, notes that the Russian troops presence in Transnistria is nothing less than "the primary threat" to Moldova.

The same Nicolae Timofti at the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said: "Must the Russian troops stationed in the Republic of Moldova without the consent of the receiving State and in contravention of the constitutional provisions and international commitments be withdrawn?" In December, the Moldovan president also said that "the Russian military presence in Transnistria violates the rights of the citizens of Moldova."

The Chisinau diplomacy demands of Russia from many high rostra to withdraw Russian peacekeepers from Transnistria. Meanwhile Chisinau's position on this issue is supported by the United States and the European Union. In December, the U.S. delegation called the Council of Ministers of the OSCE for the beginning of the discussion about reformation of the peacekeeping operation in the Dniester. In the same December, the U.S. and EU delegations supported Chisinau at the Dublin international forum at which the Moldovan delegation once again demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria and said of "the growing need for transformation of the current peacekeeping mechanism in a civil multinational mission with a relevant international mandate."

The Moldovan authorities' position on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria and change of the peacekeeping mission format in the area of security into a civil mission of multinational observers is also supported by Romania.

However, Tiraspol has a different opinion on this subject. Currently the TMR authorities and the local population of the republic are opposed in a consolidated manner to the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers from Transnistria. Currently, 92 percent of residents of the TMR believe that the current format of the peacekeeping operation should be maintained, 43 percent of people "do not rule out that the aggression against the Republic of Chisinau may happen again."

"The Transnistrians have advocated, are advocating, and I think that in the foreseeable future they will advocate for expanding the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria," said the President of Transnistria Yevgeny Shevchuk on December 28, 2012 at a press conference in Tiraspol. According to him, such an attitude of Transnistrians to the Russian military" is based on the history." "The Russian troops have been here for over 200 years. Whenever Russian troops were here, they protected this area and the people living on it. The Transnistrians are grateful to the Russian troops, command, and the Russian president that actually at the risk of their own life the Russian soldiers continue to be the cornerstone of the peacekeeping operation and have maintained peace for 20 years. The Transnistrians would like the Russian peacekeepers to continue their mission until a final political settlement that will determine not only its form but also the guarantee mechanisms," said Yevgeny Shevchuk.

Commenting on the proposal by the leadership of Moldova to replace the Russian Blue Helmets by a mission of civilian observers, the TMR president Yevgeny Shevchuk said: "Stop creating the preconditions for war. We see that, unfortunately, last year (2012) representatives of the Moldovan political elite could not refrain from aggressive statements against Transnistria. They concern, first of all, our people." The President cited data showing that over the past year in the security zone on the Dniester there was about 40 incidents settled by the Joint Control Commission of the peacekeeping operation and the command of Russian, Moldovan and Transnistrian peacekeeping battalions.

"This proves once again that the peacekeeping operation is a serious guarantee that the tragic events of 1992, in which thousands of people were killed, wounded and became refugees, will not be repeated," said Yevgeny Shevchuk. Taking a strong stand on the preservation of the current format of the peacekeeping operation in Transnistria, the TMR president noted that "the people, the community of Transnistria are very sensitive to any information relating to the Russian troops and the removal of the remaining ammunition and military equipment. Almost all unanimously say it is necessary to undertake political efforts to ensure that the Russian soldier who has been on the banks of the Dniester River since Suvorov, remains here in Transnistria."

The Foreign Minister of the Republic Nina Shtansky has recently proposed to increase the strength of Russian peacekeepers in the country. One can cite many examples of statements by other politicians, ordinary citizens of the republic, who advocate that in the foreseeable future, the presence of Russian troops in the region not be curtailed but even grown steadily.

It is clear that in the circumstances concerned, Russia can not ignore the opinion and leave hundreds of thousands of people who do not want to share with Russia to their own devices. And this is the main argument that Russia has taken Transnistria, its new state, under its shelter. And it will continue in the future. On November 1, 2012 the Coordinator of Inter-fractional Group of Deputies on Cooperation with the Supreme Soviet of Transnistria Sergey Gavrilov said: "Russia in coordination with Transnistria should keep here as many militaries as necessary to ensure the safety of Transnistria and Russia's national interests."

That is, at the present time the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria is no longer in question, and Transnistrians can be confident that the Russian Federation intends to continue to fulfill its obligations under previous agreements. Moreover, Sergey Gavrilov, visiting in the TMR said Russia is considering the restoration of a helicopter squadron in the Russian peacekeeping force, as well as its staffing, modernization and retrofitting new equipment.

Deputy Prime Minister, Special Representative of the President of Russia on Transnistria, Dmitry Rogozin also previously stated quite clearly Russia's position on the problem of the Russian troops presence in Transnistria. "We do not see so far any reason to revise our peacekeeping mission guaranteeing safety in Transdniestria, ...we will not go away from here under any foreign pressure," Dmitry Rogozin assured the Transnistrians. He also confirmed the thesis about the Russian leadership's intention to update the weapons and equipment of the Russian troops in Transnistria, in accordance with the Russian Armed Forces development plans.

About the stability of the existing format of the peacekeeping operation in Transnistria, and so about the presence of Russian troops in the TMR, "until a formula for a peaceful political settlement of the conflict is found," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, too. In this regard, it should be noted that today the role and importance of the peacekeeping course of the Armed Forces development is growing not only in Transnistria. Reform of the Russian Armed Forces, particularly, involves raising the readiness of our military formations to participate in international peacekeeping operations - both in order to maintain peace and security in areas of conflict and to protect Russia's interests and the lives of its citizens in other parts of the planet.

As noted recently by Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Russia will not refuse to participate in peacekeeping operations in the countries where it does work. In the context of Transnistria, this means that the peacekeeping operation in Transnistria will continue in the same format, despite invectives of the Moldovan authorities.

So all the talks, rumors etc. about the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria are baseless and do not correspond to the mood of the authorities and the population and the Russian leadership's intentions.

As of the statements by the president of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti of legitimacy of stationing of Russian troops in Transnistria, they also do not reflect the reality, as this legitimacy is ensured by the TMR law On the Status of the Russian Federation Forces stationed in the territory of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic and the agreement signed by the presidents of Russia and Moldova on the Principles of a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transnistrian Region of the Republic of Moldova.

And the last. On January 3, during the regular, first in the new year meeting of the Joint Control Commission, the Transnistrian delegation in the JCC expressed concern about the representatives of the Republic of Moldova that had started blocking the action plan of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces for 2013. This plan includes peacekeeping exercises, planned detours of the Security Zone by military observers and joint training of peacekeepers. So the process of Russian peacekeepers expulsion from Transnistria continues...