FOUR DOCUMENTS SHOW DEEPENING DEADLOCK.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 99

The meeting in Tiraspol resulted in four “protocol agreements”–official parlance for nonbinding documents that can range from records of negotiation (minutes) to conditional statements of intent, and subject to further consideration.

The first of these is abolishing Transdniester’s “customs” checkpoints and the Chisinau government’s “fiscal” checkpoints on the respective sides of the demarcation line and instituting common Chisinau-Tiraspol customs checkpoints on the Transdniester sector of the Moldova-Ukraine border. These steps should help reintegrate the two banks of the Dniester economically while stopping the massive contraband between Ukraine and Moldova via Transdniester. Tiraspol wants to implement these measures, however, in ways that could be construed as recognizing its sovereign authority over its part of Moldova. The sides will continue discussing the implementation.

The second is Chisinau’s official recognition of administrative and economic acts and documents of all types issued by the “Transdniester republic.” Under pressure, Chisinau’s delegation dropped its previously stated condition–namely, that the documents in question should carry not only Transdniester’s would-be “state symbols”, but also those of Moldova, with the specification “issued in Transdniester.”

Third is an agreement on the promotion and protection of foreign investments on both banks of the Dniester, in accordance with the norms and requirements of the World Trade Organization–which Moldova is about to join–as well as those of the European Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the legislations of Moldova and of Transdniester. This document makes no sense because those norms and requirements differ from each other.

Fourth is for Chisinau and Tiraspol television to exchange programs on a reciprocal basis and for the print media from either bank of the Dniester to be allowed to circulate on the other bank. Implementation of this measure depends on detailed arrangements yet to be negotiated.

Even Communist leaders in Chisinau seem unwilling at this stage to yield to such demands. And even these leaders are now saying, as do Chisinau’s diplomats, that Moldova has definitely exhausted the margin of unilateral concessions. This has been stated in recent days by Voronin, Communist parliamentary vice-speaker Vadim Mishin (a Russian from Kazakhstan) and Chisinau’s chief negotiator Vasile Sturza (who witnessed some of those self-defeating concessions in his capacity as negotiator for former President Petru Lucinschi). After the Tiraspol meeting, Sturza concluded that any further Moldovan retreat “on matters of principle” would preclude, not advance, a political settlement, and would ensure deadlock for years to come.

Meanwhile, Mishin and the new foreign affairs minister, Nicolae Cernomaz, on the advice of professionals in that ministry, have said publicly that the “common state” scheme–stipulated by the 1997 Moscow memorandum–is unworkable and can not provide a basis for Chisinau’s negotiations with Tiraspol. For the same reason, Voronin had stated at the time of his inauguration that negotiations with Tiraspol should proceed from a “clean slate.” These statements suggest a willingness in Chisinau finally to walk out of the trap of the Moscow memorandum–a document that was ab initio as nonbinding as the “protocol agreements” just signed in Tiraspol (Flux, Basapress, Infotag, May 14-21; see the Monitor, April 20, 24, May 2, 14; Fortnight in Review, May 11).

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