So, a new sensation. But sensations conform themselves to a law, even in Moldova. At least, the way they are given birth. Sensational news about a certain and unavoidable event are disseminated via Russian media outlets. Lately, the Russian newspaper Kommersant has become the source of sensations regarding Moldovan affairs.
An interview with Moldovan president published by this newspaper on March 11 is almost confirming that Russia is ready to guarantee the territorial reintegration of Moldova in exchange for Moldova’s refusal to join the NATO. Necessary documents could be signed soon.
More than that, the president is ready to negotiate the reunification of the country “with anybody”. According to authorities, Moldova “will become a unitary country with two autonomous units — Gagauzia and Transnistria” after the settlement. “Transnistria will keep everything: the coat of arms, the flag, official languages (there are three languages in Transnistria — Moldovan, Russian and Ukrainian)”.
And what about the state leadership of the Russian Federation? Did anybody in the Russian political elite say something like that? Is “Russia really ready?” And, should one speak about this in general? Do other participants in the negotiation process accept this plan? There are many questions. But most of them are rhetorical.
The Kosovo case has become a catalyser of all developments related to frozen conflicts in former Soviet countries. In Nagorno-Karabakh the situation has developed from a “bad peace” into “neither war, nor peace” and the Azerbaijani leadership has frequently declared that will resolve this problem at all costs. An armed solution is not excluded.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia are completely “tied” with Russia and this is not a secret. In its turn, Russia did not “sham” after Kosovo was declared independent, it started implementing its own policy and it is capable to do this now. For example, it has lifted the economic embargo against Abkhazia, which actually did not function much. But it had to show what it can do. The state of things was simply officialised. At the same time, it was shown that there is room for foreign policy, too.
As regards Transnistria, as usually, the Russian did not deliver any official statement on recognition. Everything goes the same way — the region is openly supported and it will be assisted in future as well. All comprehend this. Perhaps that’s why the Moldovan leadership is trying to resolve the issue via Moscow.
Now concerning guarantees not to join the NATO. As it was already said, Moldova will not join the NATO soon. If such a perspective is discussed, it is rhetorical. NATO will not accept now an unstable country where central authorities do not control one part of the territory. More than that, there is the Russian military presence in the uncontrolled region. NATO needs stability. Of course, this organisation will participate in the life of the country. The Moldova-NATO Action Plan, visits by state authorities to the NATO headquarters, meetings and talks on this matter inside and outside Moldova — all of them are real. But it is hard to imagine such an exchange: “we solemnly swear not to join the NATO” but “Russia will reunify Moldova accordingly to the Moldovan plan.”
In addition, the European Union and the United States, which have actively got involved in this process, will unlikely warm such steps by Moldova. A banal question would be raised for sure: “And what about us? Not us?”
One more thing. “It would be very well to settle the Transnistrian conflict before the 2009 parliamentary elections. This way, representatives of Transnistria would succeed to the Parliament and the latter would represent the interest of the whole country. I would like very much to see Transnistrians succeeding to the Moldovan Parliament,” Voronin stated in the interview with Kommersant. But Transnistrian comrades do not realise how lucky they would be and “how fine it would be”. There was a Parliament with Transnistrian representatives. Does one remember a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic whose name is Igor Smirnov? He and other Transnistrian lawmakers could not pass their decisions in the Parliament. But the further absence of Transnistrians did not obstruct the then parliamentary majority to lead the country the way it wanted.
Perhaps the situation has changed? That was long ago! But why the Transnistrian political beau monde does not launch into the Chisinau Parliament and prefer to resolve issues with Russians, the U.S. and anybody else, except for the Moldovan establishment? This question does not need an answer. They simply trust and understand who can really resolve problems.
As regards the Russian foreign policy on frozen conflicts in former Soviet countries, I agree with the member of the scientific council of the Moscow-based Karnegi Centre, Alexei Malashenko, who clearly said: “Our (i.e. Russian) foreign policy is double. On one hand, there is no room for recognition. On the other hand, there is a crank performed in particular by the Duma. This free circus — is shouting, making noise.”
The Moldovan side in the Transnistrian conflict, playing the role of the plaintiff, does not have anything to propose for the time being. Regretfully, all charters of diplomats from Moscow to Chisinau and from Chisinau to Moscow are just protocols. Nothing is new in principle.