Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 167

President Petru Lucinschi seems to be playing an ambiguous role in these developments. On September 6, the presidential press office helpfully informed the mass media about the publication of Yevgeny Primakov’s plan in that day’s Moldavskie Vedomosti. Concurrently, Lucinschi gave an interview to the leading right-of-center daily in Bucharest, Romania Libera, in which he endorsed a Russian-led “peacekeeping” and “peace-guaranteeing” force. The OSCE’s decisions notwithstanding, Lucinschi argued that some Russian troops must stay in Transdniester in that role, under an OSCE mandate and overall authority. The Russian troops would be “balanced” by a “smaller” Ukrainian contingent and by [unarmed] OSCE observers.

The proposal falls short of any genuine internationalization of the process; it seems, instead, consistent with Primakov’s attempt at pseudo-internationalization. Lucinschi–whose country is situated more than 1,000 kilometers from Russia’s borders–justified his position as follows: “Russia cannot be indifferent to what goes on at her borders. Russia is a superpower, and it can not remain passive in this space. Russia obviously wishes to play a role in the post-Soviet space.”

Such remarks come close to justifying the acceptance of Russian predominant influence on Moldova. Yet they do not come as a surprise. Some of the president’s closest associates have during this year called for the retention of Russian troops in Transdniester and the conferral of basing rights on those troops.

On August 13, Lucinschi’s chief negotiator Vasile Sturza conferred in Moscow with Primakov, in the presence of Ukrainian mediator Volodymyr Horbulin, and with Lucinschi himself briefly attending the talks. The Russian side “did not invite” the OSCE; and the Moldovan side accepted to enter into those talks without the safeguard offered by the OSCE. Chisinau needs to be rescued from the consequences of its own blunders (Romania Libera, “Aldine” weekly supplement, September 8, cited by Flux, September 8; Flux, Basapress, August 14; see the Monitor, June 20, July 10, 21, 27; Fortnight in Review, June 23).