Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 115

Analysts from Moldovan NGOs have drafted, and intend to present in Washington and Brussels, a concept for post-Soviet conflict settlement. Titled “Demilitarization, Decriminalization, Democratization,” the “3Ds” concept is tailored specifically to the Trans-Dniester conflict, but it can serve as a reference point in efforts to settle other conflicts in Eurasia, notably those in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, assuming full Western engagement in such efforts. The Moldovan concept seeks to energize the West’s long-deficient engagement. Settling the Trans-Dniester conflict on the basis of European democratic standards — as the document notes — answers fundamental security and democratic interests of the Euro-Atlantic community on this 400-kilometer sector of its new border.

Initiated within the Public Policies Institute (the Moldovan branch of the Open Society Institute-Soros Foundation) and developed by a representative group of civil society figures, the document carries the endorsement of more than 20 NGOs, pro-Western opposition parties, and most significantly the quiet assent of senior Moldovan government officials, to whom the document was informally presented after its completion. Emanating as it does from anti-communist, pro-democracy, European-oriented circles of civil society, the document’s preparation has coincided with the complete reorientation of President Vladimir Voronin’s policy toward a settlement consistent with Moldova’s independence and Western interests in the region.

Those are twin sets of interests, and the 3Ds concept seeks to inspire a common platform for governing authorities, political opposition, and society at large (minus the local pro-Moscow groups) to uphold those interests. The authors welcome that emergent consensus as a major positive development. It needs to be strengthened, instead of allowing it to be fractured by concentric external pressures on Voronin to accept a “federal” settlement with Trans-Dniester’s dictatorship, under mainly Russian “guarantees,” and without demilitarization, decriminalization, and democratization.

Noting at the outset that the West’s approach has “failed lamentably, leaving Moldova face-to-face with Russia even as the latter pursues a unilateral, undemocratic solution,” the document urges a new approach based on “credible, unequivocal engagement on the part of Western institutions, the great powers, and Moldova’s immediate neighbors,” as well as by the Moldovan government. It calls for pursuing an internationally-based, democracy-promoting settlement as a priority matter in the bilateral United States-Russia and European Union-Russia dialogues and in the NATO-Russia Council.

The stated goal is that of achieving an independent, democratic, European-oriented state of Moldova. The strategy’s planning assumptions and its component elements are as follows:

Timeframe: 2005-2008 for implementation of the main demilitarization and decriminalization goals, advancement of democratization agenda, and progress toward post-conflict rehabilitation; 2009-2012 for democracy consolidation and completing the post-conflict rehabilitation.

Founding Document: an “International Agreement on Conflict Settlement in Moldova,” to be signed by Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, the EU, the United States, and the OSCE. The Moldovan government would use its sovereign right to call for the signing of such an international agreement. It would be open for signing by other countries and international organizations, but the negotiating forum would be limited to the seven founding signatories.

Negotiating Forum: Those seven founders would, as coequal parties, join together in an international negotiating format with some form of UN approval. (The Russian-created current format, Russia-Ukraine-OSCE-Chisinau-Tiraspol, ensures multiple Russian representation, isolates Moldova, and excludes the West). The international forum would work out a Road Map for Trans-Dniester conflict settlement, based on demilitarization, decriminalization, and democratization goals and stipulating timetables for their attainment.

Supervisory Authority: Those same seven parties would create an International Council for Oversight and Implementation, consisting of their respective plenipotentiary representatives. Authorized by the UN, this International Council would supervise the implementation of the Road Map and the operations of specially created executive agencies charged with the implementation.

Executive Agencies: The International Council would create and oversee an International Provisional Civil Administration, to be centrally located in the town of Dubasari, and whose chief would be designated jointly by the OSCE and EU with the consent of the other five parties; an International Civilian Police Force, mandated by the UN and led by the EU; an EU-led Unit for Crisis Prevention and Management; and a Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office. This setup is largely based on the Kosovo model, minus NATO forces. The seven-member International Council would determine the political guidelines and composition of the Police Force, and provide the police manpower. No single Council member could supply more than one third of that manpower.