Russian President Boris Yeltsin has withdrawn the Russian-Moldovan interstate treaty and supplementary protocol from consideration by the Duma, which had withheld ratification. Yeltsin’s move effectively lays the treaty to rest (Itar-Tass, January 31). Although it never came to a vote, the treaty had come under attack every time the Russian Foreign Ministry forwarded it to the Duma. That chamber, moreover, had adopted, by lopsided margins, a series of resolutions contradicting the treaty. They called, among other things, for “legalizing” Russia’s de facto military presence in Moldova and for establishing direct relations between Moscow and Transdniester.
The treaty–which Yeltsin and then Moldovan President Mircea Snegur signed in 1990, and which the Moldovan parliament promptly ratified–recognized Moldova’s territorial integrity, which is the main reason the Duma opposed it. Both governments had meanwhile sought to enlarge and update the treaty, with a view to renewing it after it expires in 2000. In February 1995, Snegur agreed to Yeltsin’s suggestion that he [Snegur] initial a “supplementary protocol,” which was submitted to both parliaments for ratification. The protocol would have required both sides to confer and take “joint” military measures against threats to regional peace and security, if either side considered that such a threat had arisen. With Russian forces stationed on Moldovan soil, and with Russia able to define and counter the “threats” unilaterally, the protocol could have seriously undermined Moldova’s independence. Russia’s executive branch claimed that the protocol was the price to pay for the Duma’s ratification. The Moldovan parliament did not buy this argument and declined to consider the Yeltsin-Snegur protocol.
In Chisinau yesterday, President Petru Lucinschi’s spokesman said that the Kremlin had spoken with Lucinschi before withdrawing the treaty and protocol from the ratification process. The spokesman commented that ratification would hardly have served a useful purpose at this stage, and that the content of the treaty itself was obsolete and merited a full renegotiation. The two foreign ministries are now discussing the possibility of starting negotiations on a new treaty from scratch (Infotag, Basapress, February 1).
KUCHMA AND VITRENKO NECK AND NECK IN POLL.