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Ukraine loses the status of the guarantor

25.06.2013 17:50

Alexander Novik

Having supported the position of the Republic of Moldova, the USA and the EU in the negotiations on the "definition of the political status of Transdniestria", Ukraine actually works against the interests of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic and loses the status of an independent guarantor of peace and stability in Transnistria.

The negotiation process between the Republic of Moldova and the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic in 5 +2 format for the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict is divided into three ‘baskets' of issues. The first basket includes socio-economic problems. The second - issues of humanitarian sphere and human rights. The third basket in the negotiations is composed of issues of political settlement, including the status of Transnistria. Issues from the first two baskets are almost always submitted to the agenda of regular meetings in the 5+2 format. These include problems of the road infrastructure renewal and construction, the opening of new transportation routes, the establishment of telecommunications, the maintenance of Moldovan schools on the left bank of the Dniester, the activities of non-governmental organizations and many others.

Chisinau today persistently suggests to move to the debate on the issues from the third basket, i.e., to the political settlement of the conflict, the status of Transnistria within the Republic of Moldova. As noted by the ambassador of the RM to Ukraine, "the main political aspect is the question of Transnistria's status, i.e. how this region should look in the future, as part of the Republic of Moldova." In addition, according to him, Chisinau attaches great importance to the need to replace the military peacekeeping mission in the security zone for the international civil mission. The most important thing in this matter being the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Transnistria.

Whereas on Tiraspol's part, the work on the third basket until recently has been blocked, it believes and insists that the discussion on the third basket should begin only after resolution of the issues included in the first two baskets, but they are not resolved. Russia and Ukraine, as mediators in the negotiations in the 5 + 2 format, helped the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic to this that position, to be its guarantor.

However, with coming on January 1, 2013, into the powers of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Ukraine abruptly changed its policy on the TMR and, contrary to its position, began to insist on negotiating all the three issues of the basket at once, because according to the minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Leonid Kozhara's statement in Chisinau, "the determination of Transdniestria's political status is the basis of the negotiation process." By a strange coincidence, both Washington and Brussels, and, of course, Chisinau adhere the same opinion.

Why has Ukraine taken the position of the U.S., the European Union and the RM contrary to the fact that it together with Russia was one of the guarantors of the interests of the TMR in negotiating and thereby should ensure peace and stability in Transnistria? Turns out, the thing is in Ukraine's political ambitions in connection with its OSCE chairmanship. As stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Leonid Kozhara, "the chairmanship of the OSCE is a chance for Ukraine to intensify its presence on the international stage." In this case, according to the minister, to achieve significant results in the international arena already in 2013, Kiev counts precisely on the Transnistrian settlement and it is a top priority of the agenda of Kiev's chairmanship of the OSCE. In a word, Kiev needs a quick result in the Transnistrian settlement. And all this in order to please the West, even to the detriment of the TMR.

Chisinau welcomes in every possible way the intensification of Ukraine in the Transnistrian settlement. According to Prime Minister of Moldova Vladimir Filat, Chisinau pins great hopes on the role of Ukraine as the OSCE Chairman, because Chisinau's and Kiev's positions on the settlement process are "almost identical" and therefore, Ukraine's growing role in the region plays into the hands of Chisinau. Most importantly in the coincidence of Chisinau's and Kiev's interests is to open all the three negotiating baskets and go over "from particular cases to a single format of problems solution." So Ukraine in the negotiations on Transnistria in the 5 + 2 format has lost its status as a guarantor in promoting the Transnistrians' interests, peace and stability in the region and under pressure from the West took pro-Chisinau position.

In the meantime, negotiations of "the Permanent Conference on Political Issues in the Framework of the Negotiation Process for the Transdniestrian Settlement" in the 5 +2 format have been going on without result. So, a new round of negotiations in February in Lviv ended without result. It fails to overcome the contradictions between Moldova and Transnistria. Why? Because, when going to the negotiations to Lviv, delegations from Moldova, the U.S., the EU, the OSCE and, of course, Ukraine intended to fully take advantage of the promise of the Foreign Minister of the Republic Nina Shtansky that the agenda of the dialogue in Lviv will include "political issues" and "security issues" of the so-called third basket.

However, it's not on, as Tiraspol, not having received the promised assistance from the U.S. and the EU and feeling the increased pressure in all directions, once again realized that economic aid and political support for Transnistria can only come from Russia. And if at first Yevgeny Shevchuk began to talk that "Transnistria is an integral part of the European continent", then Nina Shtansky corrected the position: "We have always been together with Russia."

Whereas Russia's position at the negotiations in Lviv was objective and clear: time to discuss the issues of the third basket has not come yet. As a result, President of Transnistria Yevgeny Shevchuk did not arrive to Lviv for talks in the 5 + 2 format, his meeting with Prime Minister of Moldova Vladimir Filat did not take place, not a single document in the negotiations was not signed. Everything remained the same.

The talks in May in Odessa did not yield positive results either. Ukraine ever clearly understands that the events move not according to its script. According to the Ukrainian ambassador in Bucharest Theophil Bauer, "Ukraine can not promise that by the end of the year the Russian troops will have been withdrawn from the Republic of Moldova." The European Union, the OSCE also ascertain not just marking time in the negotiation process, but also rollback of Tiraspol and Chisinau by many items. The next negotiations in the 5 +2 format are scheduled for July 16 and 17 in Vienna.

Other Chisinau's initiatives in respect of the republic are coolly welcomed by Tiraspol too. Thus, Chisinau proposed Tiraspol to create a "single economic space on both banks of the Dniester River." Tiraspol, instead offers to build a "special space of trust." As explained by the Foreign Minister of the Republic Nina Shtansky, it comes to a space, based on the simultaneous solution of the complex socio-economic problems.

Remaining at the previous positions, despite the efforts of Ukraine, in the negotiations in the 5 +2 format the TMR stands not only for the continued presence of Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria, but also for the expansion of the Russian military presence in its territory in accordance with the previously signed international core documents This was stated not so long ago by President of Transnistria Yevgeny Shevchuk, explaining that the tension in the security zone is not reduced. In this connection, the head of the republic reminded that in 2012 about 60 different kinds of conflicts occurred in the security zone.