TRANSNISTRIAN CONFLICT: FROZEN, YET SOLVABLE

Vitalie DIACONU


Vitalie Diaconu, Graduate of Monterey Institute of International Studies, Specialization Conflict Resolution, Edmund S. Muskie Scholar; teaches the course Cooperation and Conflicts in the Post-Soviet Eurasia at the Moldovan State Institute of International Relations (Chisinau, Moldova)


After the Soviet Unions break-up, a series of frozen conflicts emerged in the newly established independent states, specifically in the Republic of Moldova (Transnistria), Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh), Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Russia (Chechnia), etc. Although the Transnistrian conflict lacks any ethnical and religious divergences, the conflict still remains intractable (frozen) due to the lack of political will from leaders of the Transnistrian region to constructively negotiate a viable and durable solution to the conflict. Political elites from the Transnistrian region hope that an eventual recognition of Kosovos independence will grant them additional leverages in negotiating a similar status with the Republic of Moldova. Currently, the world media and international community carefully analyze the results of presidential elections in Serbia and negotiations around the Kosovo problem. Definitely, the Kosovo status will have a major impact on the negotiation process of the Transnistrian conflict. The Transnistrian administration and several Russian politicians attempt to draw some parallelisms between Kosovo and Transnistria using artificial and naive arguments; however, the international community explicitly expressed their full support for a settlement formula that preserves Moldovas sovereignty and territorial integrity. Kosovo cannot represent a precedent for the Transnistrian conflict because the problem with the Transnistrian region is an artificial one. Nevertheless, the Transnistrian conflict can become a successful precedent of the European Union (EU) and Russia joint cooperation in conflict resolution in the former Soviet Union republics. The EU and Russiatogether with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Ukraine and the United States (U.S.)can successfully assist Moldova and Transnistria in finding a peaceful and workable solution to the conflict. This report will provide a short historical background of the conflict, analyze the nature of the Transnistrian regime, and evaluate possible future steps in the settlement process.

Transnistrian Conflict: A Brief Overview of the Conflict

Transnistria, a quasi-independent state, is located in the eastern part of the Republic of Moldova on the left bank of the Nistru River, and according to the 2004 census, Transnistria has a population of 555,000, including 32% Moldovan/Romanian, 30% Russian, and 29% Ukrainian. The Transnistrian conflict emerged during the last years of


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