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Imposed EU integration bodes ill for stability in Transdniestria - experts

July 04, 2014, 16:59 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, July 04. /ITAR-TASS/. On July 2, the parliament of Moldova ratified the EU association agreement, whereas the unrecognized republic of Transdniestria signed a number of memos about trading and economic cooperation with Russia. Experts polled by ITAR-TASS find inappropriate the attempts to impose European integration on Transdniestria that has clearly demonstrated its orientation towards Russia - the country that guarantees human rights in the unrecognized republic with more than 180,000 Russian citizens.

“Given the present relations between the EU and the Republic of Moldova, the Russian government considers it necessary to implement all of its international obligations to Transdniestria being a guarantor of peace, stability and security in the region,” said Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

The republic’s president, Yevgeny Shevchuk, said Tiraspol had not been consulted prior to the agreement signing, though the changes the accord entails pose risks for Transdniestria’s economy and threaten with destabilization.

Another Russia-leaning Moldovan autonomy is Gagauzia. After the agreement had been signed, Chisinau launched a series of criminal cases against the EU integration opponents. Gagauzia’s leader, a member of the Moldоvan government, Mikhail Formuzal, several clergymen and legislators have been charged with “unconstitutional actions". “Moldova is creating an enemy image, and it has selected Transdniestria and Gagauzia for this role", which could flare up a crisis similar to that in Ukraine, Formuzal said.

Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Valery Tishkov, believes “the attempts to impose European integration on the people of Transdniestria and Gagauzia alienate people fomr different religious, cultural and language backgrounds and pose an additional threat in the already unstable region” bordering the civil war-ravaged east of Ukraine.

“Disputes between the country’s different regions and unrecognized republics with a complicated composition of population cannot be resolved through persecuting the dissenters and instigating conflicts,” Tishkov, a former minister on the issue of ethnicities, told ITAR-TASS. “There is a need for a constructive new stage of the 5+2 negotiations among Moldova, Transdniestria, the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine and the US and EU observers that has been postponed until next autumn,” he noted.

Moldova had already tried to use force in the conflict, which only extended the crisis for two decades, so there was no other way out but the one through negotiations, Tishkov said.

“To settle the conflict, the parties involved should go back to the starting point, 1989,when Chisinau introduced discriminating laws against the Russian language spoken by Transdniestrians and most Gagauzians,” the head of the RAS center for interethnic relations research, Mikhail Guboglo, told ITAR-TASS. “Granting Russian the second national language status in Moldova is one of the ways to build trust.”

“A dozen of referendums held in Transdniestria on the issue of seceding from Moldova and joining the Russian Federation and a similar referendum that took place in Gagauzia in February have indicated that 90% of these regions’ population distrust the government in Chisinau,” said the honorary member of the Moldovan Academy of Sciences. “Their aspirations have nothing in common with Moldova’s EU integration but are pinned on Russia.”

Eliminating obstacles on the way in the Moldovan political elite for people with Russian mentality is an important factor for trust between Chisinau and Tiraspol, the expert believes.

“The government needs an influx of fresh blood. For this, capable people should have unhampered access to the career ladder, without the risk of language discrimination. Only modern, not confrontation-minded politicians are capable of resolving the conflict,” Guboglo said.

The conflict in Transdniestria started in the 1990s at the time of the Soviet Union collapse. In 1989, Moldovan was announced the national language, which angered Russian speakers in the Transdniestria. The confrontation escalated as the unrecognized republic was proclaimed in September of 1990. In March-July 1992, the conflict between Chisinau and Tiraspol spilled over into military confrontation. A ceasefire was agreed in July 1992, when Russia and Moldova signed the Agreement on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict.

Since 1993, Chisinau and Tiraspol have been negotiating Transdniestria’s legal status in the 5+2 format. Joint peacekeeping forces comprised of Russians, Moldovans and Transdniestrians are now deployed in the unrecognized republic.


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