Russia’s Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has agreed to participate–representing the ailing President Boris Yeltsin–in a meeting with presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Petru Lucinschi of Moldova, OSCE Chairman-in-Office Bronislaw Geremek, and Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov. The meeting, to be held on November 27-28 in Kyiv, is intended by its initiators to advance the political settlement of the Transdniester conflict. The initiators are Moldova, Ukraine and, lastly, Poland, whose foreign minister is Geremek and whose President Aleksander Kwasniewski supports the plan. The three countries are interested in ridding the region of the last remnant of the Soviet military presence. They coordinated their positions in a recent series of bilateral and trilateral talks, notably during Kuchma’s visit to Chisinau, Lucinschi’s visit to Warsaw (see the Monitor, October 30, November 5), and finally during yesterday’s ceremonial meeting in Warsaw on the occasion of Poland’s 80th anniversary.
Moscow did not announce its consent until November 10 and then with reservations–which it did not spell out–regarding the meeting’s agenda. Moldovan officials told The Monitor that Moscow would like the meeting to focus on relatively narrow “confidence-building” and economic issues, avoiding political ones so as to delay the ultimate resolution of the conflict. However, Kuchma and his Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk have prepared for the meeting draft agreements on a political settlement. Geremek yesterday praised the Ukrainian documents as “a real basis for a political settlement” (DINAU, UNIAN, Itar-Tass, Basapress, Monitor interviews, November 10, 11).
Meanwhile Moscow is caucusing with its Transdniester proteges ahead of the summit. Smirnov and his would-be defense minister and foreign minister arrived in Moscow yesterday (Flux, November 11). All three are natives and citizens of Russia heading the minority regime in Tiraspol. Although Russia does not recognize Transdniester officially, it regularly deals with Transdniester leaders over Chisinau’s head. –VS
RUSSIAN INPUT DISTORTS OSCE MEDIATION IN KARABAKH CONFLICT.