RUSSIAN-HOSTED TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS FAIL IN RUNUP TO CIS SUMMIT.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 198

Chisinau and Tiraspol officials have admitted to failure in their effort to produce a document on the delimitation and mutual delegation of powers in time for signing at the October 23 CIS summit in the Moldovan capital. The admission of failure follows a week’s worth of closed-doors talks held at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s retreat at Meshcherino, near Moscow. Russian mediators participated in the talks; Ukrainian and OSCE representatives were also in attendance.

Tiraspol had consented in advance to lifting some of the severe restrictions it maintains on the traffic of people and goods across the Dniester. Nevertheless, Tiraspol’s representatives declined to sign any document on political, legal, or even economic issues, so long as Chisinau refused to enter into an agreement that would legalize Transdniester’s armed forces. Transdniester’s would-be foreign minister, Valery Litskay, yesterday reaffirmed that an "intermediary" document could not be signed "in the absence of specific agreements between Chisinau and Tiraspol on the key issues: defense, security, finances." Russian mediator Yury Karlov declared with some satisfaction that the points of consensus on economic issues, confirmed at Meshcherino, can be carried over into a more comprehensive document after the CIS summit. Moldova’s senior presidential adviser and chief negotiator, Anatol Taranu, stated that Moscow’s failure to use its leverage on Tiraspol called into question Russia’s role as mediator in these negotiations and as "peacekeeper" in the CIS in general. (Flux, Basapress, Russian agencies, October 18-22)

Moscow had two irons in the fire during these negotiations. It sought to earn peacekeeping credentials for Boris Yeltsin and the CIS by mediating a lowest-common-denominator document for ceremonial signing at the summit. Failing that objective, Moscow was undoubtedly prepared to continue presiding over a deadlocked situation, which gives it the pretext for maintaining troops in Transdniester. Moldovan president Petru Lucinschi assumed that the CIS summit would give Moscow an incentive to pressure Tiraspol to agree to a document acceptable to the OSCE. As a further inducement, Chisinau agreed to move the negotiations to Moscow and even to concede more than the other mediators had deemed advisable in a document. Moscow, however, disproved Chisinau’s assumptions by condoning Tiraspol’s rigidity. This round of negotiations served to expose more clearly the biggest obstacles to a settlement: Moscow’s lack of interest in resolving the conflict, its primary interest in securing a military base in the region, and Transdniester’s insistence on retaining its own army and security services.

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