On 1 June 2004, President Vladimir Voronin proposed to Russia, USA, Romania, Ukraine and European Union (EU) to hold a political conference at the level of heads of foreign policy departments, within which to sign a Stability and Security Pact for the Republic of Moldova (SSPRM), “with the status of international law document”. SSPRM was intended to underlie “an efficient system of long-term guarantees for the entire Moldovan state, which would offer the ground for unique approaches to the issues related to the development of democratic institutions, for ensuring civil concord in the country and for solving as soon as possible the Transdniestrian problem”. The head of the state identified five problems that require the adoption of a consensual position by the mentioned parties, so that they further guarantee support of: 1) realization of territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova (RM); 2) creation of conditions in view of the participation of the entire society in the free democratic process on the entire territory of RM; 3) cultural, ethnical and linguistic diversity as a fundamental value of the poly-ethnical state RM; 4) creation of a common defense system on the entire soil of the Republic of Moldova and guarantee of permanent strategic neutrality of the country; 5) full and final settlement of Transdniestrian issue based on the federative principles.
Upon launching the SSPRM idea, President Voronin mentioned that he was thus proposing finding a “multilateral compromise in a number of principle issues related to Moldova’s statehood”, which can “constitute the guarantee of a long-term stability in this region”. Otherwise, if the parties do not reach a mutual understanding on the Pact “this will have obvious repercussions for the stability and security in this region”.
Obviously, this was a warning. Finding a “multilateral compromise” is timely if the mentioned parties are engaged in a dispute or competition for the realization of some antagonistic interests. The signing of such a document would mean acknowledging the existence of such antagonistic interests and committing to stop pursuing them on the territory of RM.
The ideologists of the governing party themselves have demonstrated the truthfulness of this. In this regard quite relevant is the article published in the semi-official newspaper Nezavisimaya Moldova signed by the MP of the majority faction, member of the Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Policy, Ivan Grec. The main purpose of the article entitled “Let’s dot all i’s and cross all t’s” was to justify President’s refusal to sign one year ago, on 25 November 2003, the Kozak Memorandum on solving the Transdniestrian conflict, after he had initialed it. The author’s main theses were the following: 1) RM entered the zone of interest of the West after NATO extension, which, headed by USA, started to strengthen its military-strategic presence in the South-Eastern Europe; 2) after signing the agreement within the Istanbul summit on the withdrawal of troops and munitions from Transnistria, Russia lost the capacity of influencing by itself the process of solving the Transdniestrian conflict; 3) the West and Russia have entered into a geostrategic competition in the region, the latter opposing to the extension of the West through its available means (military presence and support of the Transdniestrian regime); 4) the West’s plan for solving the Transdniestrian conflict by federalizing RM (proposal of OSCE in Kiev) began to compete with the Russian plan (Kozak Memorandum); 5) the West holds “the necessary levers (financial-economic and political) to destabilize the situation in RM”, while Russia has lost its levers of influence on RM.
Conclusion: 1) the West got scared that the signing of the Kozak Memorandum would include RM in Russia’s geostrategic influence sphere for ever, thus devaluing the agreement signed at the OSCE summit on the withdrawal of troops and munitions from RM; 2) “the Kozak Memorandum was not signed due to the tough rivalry between two geopolitical forces for influence in RM”; 3) the geopolitical forces preoccupied with the promotion of their interests do not understand the deadlock in which RM found itself; 4) “without a compromise, without a consensus, between the West (OSCE, EU, USA) and Russia, the Transdniestrian problem cannot be solved observing the sovereignty and independence of RM”; 5) it is not President Voronin’s fault to have renounced signing the Kozak Memorandum, “somebody out there does not like the independence in adopting decisions and the independence of the Moldovan President’s behavior”.
There is no doubt that the respective conclusions make allusions that President Voronin had allegedly given up in front of a blackmail from the West, which “holds the necessary levers (financial-economic and political) to destabilize the situation in RM”. In these circumstances, the author suggested that: 1) the Transdniestrian conflict cannot be solved without a consensus between Russia and the West, therefore “the five-sided format of negotiations should be changed, so that the OSCE inefficiency is replaced with EU as an adequate partner for Russia, and these should agree to engage in finding a compromise in an extremely important problem for our country”; 2) RM must “triple its efforts in the mediation of Russia-EU relations in order to make them look for a solution that is acceptable and favorable for Moldova’s reintegration”; 3) “in no way should the freezing of the conflict be admitted, which in such a case could last for tens of years, which is extremely dangerous for our state”.
The Moldovan public opinion showed its reserved attitude towards the President’s initiative. Non-affiliated press qualified the SSPRM idea as an attempt to transform RM into a protectorate of the neighboring countries and of the big powers.
The main reasoning for the skeptical attitude towards the initiative referred to the fact that SSPRM could become “an international law document” only being ratified by the legislative forums of the signing states. Taking into account that Moldovan authorities took those whom they invited to sign the SSPRM by surprise, without consulting with them in advance, it was hard to imagine how it would be possible to get to the stage when, for example, the US Congress, the Russian State Duma, or the Supreme Rada of Ukraine would include in their agendas the examining SSPRM.
As it was to be expected, those invited to sign the SSPRM did not hurry to give an answer, affirming, as usual, that “the initiative is interesting and it will be carefully examined”. In those circumstances, the semi-official Nezavisimaya Moldova published one more article entitled “At the intersection of all difficulties”, signed by the same author, in which he practically reiterates the same theses, only completing them as follows: 1) Russia made a big mistake on 4 July 2003, when, on the occasion of signing a Friendship and Cooperation Treaty with Romania, it also signed the “Common Declaration” by which the parties condemned the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact; 2) Russia shows political short-sightedness because it does not realize its own interest in RM, which consists in supporting the current governors, and not the separatist regime; 3) USA, EU, OSCE and EC, after “having sunken the signing of the Kozak Memorandum” do not hurry to help RM with solving the Transdniestrian conflict; 4) the continuation of the geopolitical rivalry between the West and Russia leaves few chances for RM’s reintegration; 5) Chisinau cannot change the format of negotiations, nor can it abandon it, if the East and the West do not come with alternative propositions; 6) It is more and more difficult for RM to promote a bi-dimensional foreign policy, therefore, the Transdniestrian deadlock endangers the fate of the Moldovan state itself.
After the breaking out of the “school war”, the response measures of the Moldovan authorities on the imposition of restrictions on the export of goods from the separatist region were not supported by Russia and Ukraine, states which President Voronin accused of supporting the separatist regime and violation of the bilateral agreements. As a result, RM announced: 1) renunciation on dialogue with the current Transdniestrian leaders; 2) giving up on the five-sided process of negotiation; 3) renunciation on the federalist formula of conflict solving.
Thus, half a year before the parliamentary elections, the governors found themselves in a deadlock both as regards perspectives to settle Transdniestrian conflict, and from the viewpoint of foreign relations. Indeed, what kind of foreign policy successes and mutual trust relations with the main foreign partners of RM can we talk about, if they are publicly suspected of plotting obscure plans against RM?
In order to find a justification of the deadlock situation, the press service of the governing party “The Communist” published in September-October 2004 a series of articles with the generics “Who and what fishes in the Transdniestrian whirlpool”, in which it imputes to the countries invited to sign the SSPRM, that in their relations with RM, they say one thing, but think and do another, in accordance with the formula — “we write one, while have two in mind”. Actually, the Communist reproduces the older, above-mentioned, theses but sets them forth more explicitly, blaming Romania, Russia, USA and Ukraine for pursuing setting the border on Dniester River.
At present, USA, EU and Romania declare themselves favorable to the signing of a Declaration on the Stability and Security of RM, this meaning only assuming some moral obligations to support RM’s requests. No mention about singing a Pact, which, as the Moldovan President was insisting, was to be “an international law act”. The irony is that the Declaration would have to be signed during the OSCE Inter-Ministerial Summit to be held in Sofia at the beginning of December 2004. And this after the head of the state signed the anti-OSCE declaration, condemning “the disparity between the increased activism of OSCE regarding its support of democratic standards and its passivity in the settlement of the «frozen» conflicts on the CIS territory”.
Also interesting is the fact that exactly the same persons said to have convinced President Voronin not to sign the Kozak Memorandum have recently met, in September-October this year, and had a telephone conversations with him, after which followed the idea of signing within OSCE the Declaration of Stability and Security for RM. We are talking about the Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who was then the Acting Chairman of OSCE; US Ambassador to RM, Heather Hodges; and the High Commissioner of EU for Foreign Policy and Security, Javier Solana. On the other hand, Ukraine and Russia are avoiding giving a final answer on whether they will sign the Declaration. In this sense, it is curious that USA, EU and RM are making an appeal to Russia and Ukraine to sign the Declaration through the Permanent Council of OSCE in Vienna. Should this mean that direct communication channels with the strategic partners of RM are not functioning already?
It is not excluded that Russia and Ukraine will condition the signing of the Declaration with Chisinau’s return to the table of negotiations with the Transdniestrian leaders, observance of all previous agreements within the five-sided framework, acceptance of the federalist formula of solving the conflict. And this the more so as USA and EU did the exactly the same thing, stating in addition that they did not insist on becoming mediators, being satisfied with the status of observers in the process of conflict resolution. Otherwise, the status quo preceding the launching of the SSPRM would be restored.