In a press interview yesterday, Moldovan president Mircea Snegur expressed concern over Russian proposals to confer a peacekeeping mandate on Russia’s Operational Group of Forces in Moldova (formerly the Russian 14th Army). Snegur said the mandate would amount to granting Russian forces basing rights in violation of Moldova’s constitutional ban on stationing foreign troops on its territory. (19) At the same time, the president appears hesitant to irritate Moscow with a proposal to internationalize the peacekeeping force submitted last month by Internal Affairs Major General Victor Catana. Catana is Moldova’s representative to the Joint Control Commission that nominally oversees the peacekeeping troops.
The peacekeeping force in Moldova is now comprised exclusively of Russian units from central Russia and is unrelated to the Operational Group of Forces. Catana’s proposal, which Snegur has authorized but not endorsed, suggests adding units of third countries to the peacekeeping force under a U.N. and OSCE mandate. Catana complained yesterday that his proposal was not receiving official support in Chisinau, (20) while Snegur was quoted as saying he "rejected accusations of pro-western leanings, (as) Chisinau must conduct an even-handed policy toward East and West." (21) Having lost much of his former domestic political base, Snegur feels he needs Russian (and Romanian) goodwill to improve his reelection chances in 1996, and is adjusting his policy accordingly. As long as such major initiatives are left to subordinate Internal Affairs officials without official high-level backing, the West will find it difficult to take them seriously and Russia will find it easy to ignore them.