Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 18

The leaders of Transdniester appear unfazed by a recent joint statement by the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova which affirms the territorial integrity of Moldova. The statement, issued January 19 in Moscow, calls for resolving the Transdniester conflict through "a special status…as a constituent part of a single and indivisible Moldova," while pledging the assistance of Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma as mediators. In addition, the statement declares the readiness of Russia and Ukraine to guarantee an eventual settlement. (13) The document’s main significance lies in Russia’s acceptance of Ukraine as an equal in the role of mediator and guarantor. Its main pitfalls are its failure to outline the principles of Transdniester’s special status and its lack of enforcement provisions. Chisinau had in vain asked Moscow to specify the principles of the region’s special status in order to place Tiraspol before a fait accompli.

The January 19 statement gives Tiraspol certain leeway to continue to press its maximal demands, as it approves earlier Chisinau-Tiraspol "understandings"–a reference to President Mircea Snegur’s 1994 consent to negotiate on "state status" for Transdniester. Transdniester’s leaders have publicly interpreted the statement as being consistent with their demand for full separate statehood and a treaty relationship with Chisinau within Moldova’s "external borders." Two days ago, Transdniester introduced additional controls on its self-declared "border" with Moldova, imposing customs duties on all Moldovan goods bound for or transiting through Transdniester. At the insistence of the OSCE mission, Transdniester president Igor Smirnov and Supreme Soviet chairman Grigori Marakutsa met the same day in Chisinau with the Moldovan leadership, but declined to negotiate on political issues. The delegation merely discussed banking relations between the two sides of the Dniester. (14)

Kuchma Puts Privatization at Top of 1996 Agenda.