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05.04.2013BOARD of Foreign Investors Association about the action of administration at Tirex Petrol




05.04.2013Candidate for prime ministerial post must be nominated by the end of next week, presumes Moldovan Parliament Speaker and Democratic Party leader Marian Lupu.



22.03.2013The ex-President of Moldova, Chairman of the Communist Party MP Vladimir Voronin says he doesn’t really see a particular need for holding consultations with the Liberal Democratic Party to launch the procedure of discharging Parliament Speaker Marian Lupu.





TRANSNISTRIAN SETTLEMENT: NEW STAGE (Commentary by Anatol Golea, INFOTAG’s political observer).


Moldova and Transnistria will mark a sad anniversary this week: armed clashes began in Bendery streets on June 19 ten years ago. The bloodshed marked the apogee of an armed conflict between the two opposing sides.

Several days of combats took a toll of dozens of killed, hundreds of wounded and missing. Precise statistics of the conflict victims is not available even now, and will hardly be ever possible. A la guerre comme a la guerre, as the French saying goes. Each war has its victims and heroes. That war produced also those who are still trying to earn a political capital on it.

On the sorrowful anniversary’s eve, Transnistria has published a specified number of victims, although some analysts are casting doubt on it. According to the official Tiraspol, the several days of the street combats resulted in 489 people killed, 1,242 wounded, 87 missing, and 40 more people died of wounds later.

Chisinau observers believe the Tiraspol leaders exaggerate the losses, manipulating with figures in the framework of a large-scale propaganda campaign entitled “Ten Years of Moldova’s Aggression against the Transnistrian People”. There is no doubt that politicians from the left Dniester bank will be particularly active this week, using the statistics in full in the unending information warfare.

Chisinau claims the above figures are exaggerated, preferring to keep silence about its own losses. On the right Dniester bank, this date is not marked officially in any way. Laying flowers to the monuments of deceased comrades in arms, conflict veterans usually complain on this date that in Moldova (unlike in Transnistria) they are forgotten by everybody, and face their own unresolved problems all by themselves. The authorities do not take part in settling their social problems, although the Government dares not use force to throw Transnistrian veterans out of the elite dwelling house which was intended for parliament deputies, but was occupied by angry homeless vets and their families 2 years ago.

In due time, ex-President Mircea Snegur plucked up his courage and publicly recanted mistakes committed and blood shed. The present Moldovan leadership, both during its election campaign and after coming to power, was actively playing the Transnistrian card. Communist Party leaders condemned the previous rulers’ actions, in a belief that this would promote the Transnistrian problem settlement.

However, observers are pointing out that presently, almost 1.5 years after the Communists’ victory, no progress whatsoever has been achieved in the conflict settlement work. Moreover, the situation has noticeably aggravated. Indeed, the armed conflict’s memory is too fresh in the people’s hearts yet, and this certainly leaves its mark on the general situation, the more so that Tiraspol leaders constantly remind their compatriots of the “Moldovan aggressors”.

From the very first days of his office, Vladimir Voronin was full of resolution to achieve a lasting solution of the conflict. On the following day after his inauguration, he met with Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov. And one of Voronin’s first presidential Decrees was the one recognizing the Transnistrian problem as a first-priority and envisaging measures to resolve it.

Voronin was logically thinking that in the conditions of the split country and its uncontrolled eastern border, one cannot seriously count on overcoming economic hardships. Proceeding from this, he yielded to a number of principle concessions. Already at the second meeting the two had in Tiraspol on 16 May 2001, a number of important protocol decisions were signed, including a protocol on the reciprocal recognition of documents issued by the sides’ competent organs. Tiraspol had been fruitlessly seeking that for years.

President Voronin was counting that his courtesy would be duly appreciated. And, really, the first essential rewarding step was made by Smirnov shortly later: he released “the political prisoner of the Tiraspol regime”, Ilie Ilascu, who had been kept in a Tiraspol prison for almost 10 years.

However, several days later, Smirnov signed a decree on the introduction of Transnistrian passports. He did that backdate, in order to have the decree falling under the force of the above-said protocol, so that Chisinau would recognize the decree. The Tiraspol leader, who claimed he was an “experienced negotiator”, thus tried to dictate his own rules of the game.

Besides this, the Tiraspol administration demanded from the Moldovan Government to offer official apologies to the Transnistrian people and to compensate for the material damage inflicted to the breakaway region in 1992 – an astounding figure in dollars, which indeed puzzled the new Moldovan authorities.

Very shortly after that, President Voronin realized that if he abode by those rules, the Transnistrian problem would be never resolved. First, Transnistrian customs and border-guard officers did not let the head of state onto the Transnistrian territory where Voronin was heading to in order to settle the problem of the Chitcani monastery’s subordination to Chisinau. Then, Voronin was not let to mourning arrangements in Bendery. This was exactly one year ago, and the President then restricted himself to issuing a carefully designed address to the citizens of Bendery – the city he used to head in the Soviet times.

Vladimir Voronin understood the rightness of his two predecessors – Mircea Snegur and Petru Lucinschi, who believed that the Transnistrian dispute would not be solved as long as the region was in the hands of Igor Smirnov. So, Voronin decided to use the stick and the carrot policy, and switched from concessions over to tough measures.

Referring to World Trade Organization’s requirements, Moldova changed its official customs rubber stamps on last August 1, thus making Transnistrian legal exports practically impossible. Tiraspol began complaining of an “economic blockade”, and refused to continue negotiations unless the blockade is lifted.

Chisinau refused to talk, too, stating there is no point in “negotiations for the sake negotiations”. Voronin’s statements about Moldova’s pro-Russia orientation permitted to enlist the support of President Vladimir Putin and Russian leadership. But the chief thing was that Voronin had managed to crush the powerful pro-Transnistrian lobby in Moscow, to sign and ratify the Basic Political Treaty between Moldova and Russia. And though many believe it was erroneous to officially fix in the Treaty the role of Russia as a mediator in the negotiations with Tiraspol, one cannot help recognizing that the document is really of a paramount importance for Moldova.

Having lost Moscow’s backing, the Tiraspol leaders began seeking it in other capitals, first and foremost in Kiev. There is an opinion that Ukraine sticks to a “tactics of the ripening apple”: it will fall down itself at the right moment, so there is no point in hurrying up events.

In this particular case, the apple is Transnistria: it does not wish to be within Moldova, and can hardly come to be within Russia which faces problems with its western enclave – the Kaliningrad region, but at a certain geo-political situation, it may well accede to Ukraine, like it was the case with the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924-1940.

Taking into consideration these circumstances as well as Voronin’s sharp anti-Ukrainian statements in late 2001, the official Kiev is waging a wait-and-see tactics. The Ukrainian leadership declined Moldova’s offer to establish joint Moldo-Ukrainian customs houses along the Transnistrian portion of the joint border. Moreover, Kiev decided to take no particular measures to blockade Transnistrian exports – with documents bearing old, invalid Moldovan stamps.

On Ukraine’s initiative, Moldovan, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers signed in New York on November 16, 2001 a joint statement on Transnistrian settlement, in which they expressed adherence to solving the conflict through negotiations. This is a document that binds to nothing, one in a whole package of such-type papers signed over the 10 years. However, it was the first to have fixed a formula of talks in a pentalateral format. This may be regarded as success of Transnistria whose representatives did not sign the document but succeeded in official recognizing them as an equal-right side in the negotiation process.

However, the talks failed to be resumed even after that achievement. As could be expected, Smirnov was re-elected as Transnistrian president. Voronin confirmed after that event that he would not sit at the negotiation table with Smirnov, and that experts have nothing to discuss in the situation when Tiraspol uses the talks only for the sake of taking time and further consolidating the Transnistrian statehood. Moldova refused to take part even in meetings of experts in Bratislava and Warsaw. This only complicated possibility of resuming work by experts. (End of part 1)


When it seemed that the Transnistrian question would be shelved for long, the situation sharply changed all of a sudden. It was announced in late May that the experts would resume talks in a month, i.e. in the end of June, and a timetable even started to be prepared, according to which the first meeting would be held in Kiev, then in Moscow, Chisinau, and Tiraspol.

It became apparent that those changes were not accidental, and that the mediators’ optimism was for good reason, the more so that consent to resume the negotiations came not only from Igor Smirnov but also from Vladimir Voronin who had been repeating all those 9 months that talk re-start was impossible without a cardinal change of Tiraspol’s stance.

The situation became entirely different. Certainly, it was surrounded by lots of rumors which, however, were not devoid of grounds. Obviously, the decision was made neither in Tiraspol nor in Chisinau. It was, first and foremost, a product of the world that had changed after September 11, a product of the super-powers’ new, different attitude to seats of tension and to possible sources of uncontrolled distribution of weaponry.

That was exactly why the Transnistrian problem, petty as it is in the global scale, found its reflection is such an important-most document as the Russian-U.S. summit declaration. Moscow and Washington have agreed to cooperate in resolving the Transnistrian dispute, which was a complete surprise to everyone, first of all to Chisinau and Tiraspol.

Shortly before the document signature, both Dniester banks were visited by special representative of the U.S. Department of State for settling conflicts in new independent states, former U.S. Ambassador to Moldova Mr. Rudolf Perina. Voices could be heard that the United States might become a new, full-right mediator in the Transnistrian settlement process. The notoriously anti-West Tiraspol administration shocked everybody by hurriedly welcoming that news. Tiraspol thus hinted to Russia that, for the sake of its own benefit, Transnistria was ready to change orientation and become pro-Western to spite Chisinau for its becoming “so pro-Russian”.

However, Mr. Perina dismissed rumors concerning his country’s possible mediation, and the Declaration signed by Vladimir Putin and George Bush only proved that. Now, one month after the document signature, the truth seems to be on the side of those who are saying that the two super-powers have agreed to divide zones of influence.

According to this opinion, Russia and the United States have agreed upon joint actions in some conflict zones, and on non-interference into other ones. Thus, Russia has blessed the U.S. presence in Georgia, whereas Bush let to Putin the freedom of actions in Moldova, where the Russian Federation wants to preserve its influence, and to use this region as a bridgehead for advancing to Europe.

The role of that bridgehead as a door to the Balkans has been often exaggerated. But in the new situation, and particularly after Ukraine’s statement of intention to join NATO, it is becoming important for the Kremlin to preserve its active presence (including military one) in Moldova.

The events, that took place after the Russia-U.S. Summit, proved there was certain logic in the above reasoning. The mediators met on a neutral soil, in Warsaw, and agreed upon resumption of the negotiations. That meeting involved also officials from the foreign ministry of Portugal, which country is currently chairing in the OSCE and is undertaking active efforts for talk recommencement.

Simultaneously, after the change of leadership in the Portuguese foreign ministry, the differences were overcome between the former minister Jaime Gama and David Swartz, Head of the OSCE Permanent Mission to Moldova. Those differences were the reason why Mr. Swartz was not let to Mr. Gama’s meeting with Transnistrian leaders. In Warsaw, the mediators’ unanimity was fully restored, and they began speaking again that everything depended on the conflicting sides’ political will.

Strange though it might seem, this will was really demonstrated. Vladimir Voronin, who used to hold an irreconcilable stance, agreed, with a surprising lightness, to resume talks on the level of experts. Even so, not a single of his categorical demands, which he had been defending for 9 months, have been fulfilled. These are, primarily, the Tiraspol’s continuing refusal to register its economic operators with Chisinau, or to run exports in conformity with Moldovan rules, whereas Ukraine is dragging the establishment of joint customs posts.

It is obvious that only Vladimir Putin has managed to convince Voronin of the expediency of such concessions. Moreover, Voronin re-shuffled his presidential apparatus, having moved away all those who had failed to counter-pose anything serious against Igor Smirnov during his presidential campaign in December 2001.

They say, in the foreseeable future President Vladimir Voronin will not be needing his own PR experts to influence on the public opinion in Transnistria, for Russia itself will be doing this in order to demonstrate its ability to settle conflicts in the former USSR area – first and foremost in those republics where local governments are oriented to Moscow.

Judging by everything, Tiraspol is feeling seriously offended by Russia which is backing the current Moldovan authorities. In his recent interview with the Nezavissimaya Moldova governmental newspaper on the occasion of Russia’s national holiday, Russian Ambassador Pavel Petrovsky spoke out that backing quite explicitly. Simultaneously, he laid on Tiraspol the entire responsibility for blockading the negotiations. That same night, no one of the Transnistrian administration was present at the official reception in the Russian Embassy – the first such absence in 10 years. This says much, and is particularly striking if one remembers this was a special occasion and a round date – the Russian Federation was celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Independence Declaration.

According to the same rumors, this stance of Transnistrian leaders should be explained with the fact that their days in Tiraspol are numbered. It is believed that in the nearest time the Smirnov’s team will begin collapsing: foreign minister Valery Litkai will be offered a post in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, security minister Vadim Shevtsov – a post in the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Following next should be pensioner Igor Smirnov himself (who has, allegedly, begun selling out his immovable property in Transnistria), who will go fishing to one of Russia’s big rivers.

By that time, Chisinau should prepare an acceptable draft status for the Transnistrian region, amend laws accordingly, prepare for introducing changes to the Constitution and electoral system, and to book seats for Transnistrian deputies in the Moldovan Parliament.

Such a scenario is being heard also from the leaders of some extra-parliamentary parties. They believe one should not rule out the possibility of holding – this autumn or next spring – an early parliamentary election together with the Transnistrian population. They presume the early parliamentary election may be combined with the local election scheduled for next March.

The realization of such a scenario seems unlikely, so far, because all this was much easier to do a year ago, before the Transnistrian presidential election, not now when Smirnov has received voters’ resounding support. On the other hand, one year ago there did not exist the said Russian-American accords, which then also seemed unlikely. The world has changed during the year, and these changes may have a favorable impact on the Transnistrian conflict settlement.

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