Moldovan official: We do not need tanks and soldiers with Kalashnikov in Transnistria
The War in Transnistria in 1992 between Moldova and Russia was ended with a ceasefire. The sides agreed to establish the Joint Control Commission (JCC), which was meant to monitor the ceasefire in the Security Zone - the strip along the Nistru River that separates the two sides of the conflict. The agreement established peacekeeping forces charged with ensuring observance of the ceasefire and security arrangements, composed of five Russian battalions, three Moldovan battalions and two battalions from Transnistria. The JCC is the supervisory body for the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPF) and consists of delegations of Moldova, Russia and Transnistria. 20 years after the ceasefire, the Moldovan side believes that the mission did not succeed to achieve its goal in securing the region.
“It is regrettable that the mission did not succeed to prevent or to manage accordingly the non-military tensions,” Andrei Popov, Moldovan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
According to him, the peacekeeping mission in Transnistria has to be reformed. There has been recently a debate on whether the peacekeeping forces should be replaced by forces under international mandate. The talks come after an 18-year-old boy was fatally shot at Vadul lui Voda checkpoint by a Russian soldier in January 2012.
“There is no need of hundreds of armed soldiers. There is need of a compact mission built up of unarmed civil staff such as constabulary experts. It should be under international auspices of a relevant organization. This mandate should include both monitoring the general situation and contribute with some prevention actions or mediate the tensions and crisis,” Andrei Popov said.
Moldova wants to transform the peacekeeping mission in Transnistria in a structure “able to respond to the real requirements.” Some actors involved in the “5+2” talks also expressed their viewpoint on the necessity to reform this structure by promoting confidence-building measures, communication and interaction.
“We cannot [establish peace] with tanks,” Mr. Popov said.
The Moldovan official says it’s time to establish peace in the region without weaponry on the ground.
“The tanks, the troops armed with Kalashnikov, the barbed wire – all are there to separate,” Mr. Popov explained.
The US Embassy in Moldova released a statement in January this year emphasizing the need for demilitarization of the region.
“This incident [at Vadul lui Voda checkpoint] highlights the need for demilitarization of the security zone to avoid similar occurrences in the future. We join the European Union in confirming our readiness to participate actively in discussions on the demilitarization of the region and the corresponding transformation of the current peacekeeping operations on the Nistru into a mission under the auspices of the OSCE in the context of the Transnistrian conflict settlement,” the US Embassy said in a press statement.
The OSCE Mission to Moldova, which was established in 1993, focuses on the Transnistrian conflict resolution. The body’s involvement is mainly made through confidence-building projects. Its tasks are “to assist in negotiating a lasting political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, to consolidate the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, and to reach an understanding on a special status for the Transnistrian region.”
The Transnistrian conflict settlement is made within the “5+2” format. It includes representatives of the sides, mediators and observers in the negotiation process - Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE (as mediators), and the US and the EU (as observers since 2005). The next official negotiations are due to take place in Vienna in September this year. The “5+2” talks were resumed in November 2011 following a deadlock of almost six years.
Transnistria is an internationally unrecognized entity proclaimed in Tiraspol on September 2, 1990, initially styled the Moldavian Transnistrian Soviet Socialist Republic. Currently known as the Moldavian Transnistrian Republic, this breakaway entity consists of a narrow strip of land (180 km by 32 km) nestled between the east bank of the Nistru River and the border of Moldova with Ukraine, on a small part of what used to be, between 1924 and 1940, the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
In 1992 escalated a conflict between Moldova and Russia over this territory. A cease-fire was signed the same year by president of Russia Boris Yeltsin and president of Moldova Mircea Snegur. An agreement to withdraw all Russian forces from the trans-Nistrian districts of the Republic of Moldova was signed by Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin in 1994. It stipulated that the 14th Army was to leave the Republic of Moldova within three years, but the agreement was never ratified by the Duma, Russia’s legislature.