The defense ministers of Romania and Moldova, Victor Babiuc and Valeriu Passat, signed on July 24 in Bucharest a set of agreements of intent on bilateral military cooperation. According to Romanian sources, the documents envisage: joint troop and staff exercises on Romanian territory, starting this year; creation of a joint peacekeeping battalion; cooperation on unspecified types of military shipments; and training of Moldovan officers in Romanian military academies, beginning with a first batch of 22 Moldovan students this coming autumn. Military experts of the two sides are to draw up detailed agreements in each of these areas. Babiuc sidestepped a question regarding possible deployment of a Romanian-Moldovan peacekeeping battalion in Transdniester. Romanian president Emil Constantinescu also received Passat. (Rompres, Flux, RIA, July 25)
The Romanian side appeared to be the initiator of the agreements and it publicized them, possibly to score internal political points. Romania’s ability to provide military assistance to Moldova is modest. The ill-timed move can only complicate Chisinau’s efforts to bring about the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transdniester and to induce the latter to give up its army and security services in a negotiated settlement.
New Format for Georgian-Abkhaz Negotiations.