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Moldova vs. Transnistria: Thinking beyond pragmatism

August 6, 2012 - Example Author - New Eastern Europe newsletter

Changes in the Transnistrian conflict are presenting an opportunity for Europe that could offer it a win in the Eastern Neighbourhood and at the same time reshape its relationship with Russia. But the European Union has to step up and think beyond soft power.

Moldova vs. Transnistria: Thinking beyond pragmatism

By: Andrey Devyatkov & Marcin Kosienkowski 

In years past, the Eastern Neighbourhood of the European Union has rarely brought positive news. But some change came unexpectedly from Moldova, where the central government has been in conflict with the breakaway region of Transnistria for more than twenty years. In the aftermath of the breakaway region’s December 2011 elections, Igor Smirnov—Transnistria’s seemingly unshakable leader—was replaced by Yevgeny Shevchuk. As president, Shevchuk openly criticised the former government for making Transnistria into a “besieged fortress” with a ruined economy, and called for a policy of “small steps” in improving relations with Chisinau. For his part, Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat proved ready for such dialogue, motivated first of all by a desire to demonstrate positive political results both internally and externally to the European Union, to which Moldova is nearing and integrating.

The conflict sides have reached important compromises on some technicalities regarding socio-economic issues—such as resumption of railway traffic and withdrawal of radioactive materials from the Transnistrian territory—as well as the formalisation of the 5+2 negotiation format on the conflict settlement (in which Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE are presented as mediators and the EU and the US are observers—alongside the two opposing claimants). 

To read the full article please visit: https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/407

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