Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 135

Moldova’s President Voronin requested his visit toMoscow with venting his indigation about the Duma’s and the Transdniesterleadership’s latest anti-Moldovan steps in mind. These steps have forced even the Communist authorities in Chisinau to question Russia’s good faith as a mediator, and to declare that no settlement is possible as long as Igor Smirnov remains in power in Tiraspol.

On July 4, Russia’s Duma adopted a resolution, proposing to the presidents of Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Transdniester to form a joint working group for launching the procedure of Moldova’s and Transdniester’s “simultaneous accession to the Russia-Belarus Union State.” The Duma then voted down a motion by Yevgeny Primakov, the presidentially appointed chairman of Russia’s State Commission on Transdniester negotiations, who had asked the chamber to rescind that resolution as incompatible with international law.

At the same time, the Duma adopted a law on the procedure of accession to the Russian Federation of other states or parts thereof. Under this law, any state that is a subject of international law, or a territory of a foreign state, can become a constituent unit of the Russian Federation. Common borders with Russia are not a prerequisite. The law provides for accession by mutual consent and through negotiation with the authorized bodies of the acceding state and/or territory. This ostensible “legal mechanism” for absorption had until now been lacking in Russia. It is seen as designed to facilitate the incorporation–or raise the specter of incorporation–of Belarus as a state, and of Transdniester, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia as parts of states, “at their request,” into the Russian Federation (see the Monitor, July 10).

At the same time in Tiraspol, Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov decreed that “travel passports” be issued for “Transdniester republic citizens”–the final nail into the coffin of the Voronin-Smirnov “protocol agreements” of May 16.

These moves outraged Chisinau. On July 9, on Voronin’s instructions, Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolae Cernomaz–a man who had never done or said anything that could have displeased Moscow–declared on Moldovan radio: “How strange that ‘official’ Moscow seems to work with us to reunify Moldova, even as others in the Russian Federation sabotage these efforts. Russia’s move throws us back to the same old, duplicitous ‘dialogue,’ practiced all these years, when official pronouncements were saying one thing, while the official levels were fruitfully cooperating with the Tiraspol regime at the same time.” Official Moscow–Cernomaz went on–is trying to work directly with Tiraspol “in order to evade the fulfillment of the [1999] OSCE summit’s decisions…. We have good political relations with Moscow, but, if Moscow continues practicing its double standards, it will thereby damage our relations, and will at a minimum bring gullible people, such as we in Chisinau, back to reality.”

Interviewed in the Moscow daily Izvestia on the eve of his visit to Moscow, Voronin stated, for the first time in so many words, that the Transdniester problem will not be settled as long as Igor Smirnov remains the leader in Tiraspol.