A foot in both camps: Moldova and the Transnistrian conundrum from the Kozak memorandum

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Author: Paul D. Quinlan
Date: Summer 2008
From: East European Quarterly(Vol. 42, Issue 2)
Publisher: University of Colorado at Boulder
Document Type: Article
Length: 12,382 words
Lexile Measure: 1820L

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Located along the historical crossroads between Europe and Asia in Southeastern Europe, because of its geopolitical situation and history, the small, newly independent Republic of Moldova has tried to follow a foreign policy centering on maintaining a balance between East and West. Moldova's dominant foreign policy problem since independence has been the Transnistrian conundrum, one of the so-called "frozen conflicts," a legacy of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Dnestr Moldovan Republic (DMR), or Transnistria, a self-proclaimed, unrecognized republic, consists of the eastern border region of the former Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic on the left bank of the Dnestr River, along with the city of Bendery on the right bank that Transnistria captured with the invaluable support of the Russian Fourteenth Army in the short but bloody civil war in the late spring of 1992. Transnistria is hardly a household word. Few people have ever heard of the place, let alone know anything about it. Yet because of Transnistria's geopolitical situation it has become somewhat of a "mouse that roared." Over the past five years or so, this so-called "museum of Soviet communism" has been a nagging problem for the European Union (EU), NATO, the United States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that refuses to go away, not to mention the fractured Republic of Moldova. During the Soviet era, Transnistria was the heartland of Moldovan industry. Moreover, Transnistria, a Russian client state, has provided Moscow with a powerful lever in trying to strengthen its hold on Moldova and to bring it further into Russia's sphere of influence. The purpose of this article is to examine the attempts to solve the Transnistrian conundrum from the Kozak Memorandum to the present and the tortuous diplomacy of the small Republic of Moldovan to maintain its territorial integrity and independence.

Kozak Memorandum

The closest Moldova has come to solving the problem by diplomacy involved the Kozak Memorandum of November 2003, which was to form the bases of a federated Moldovan-Transnistrian state. (1) During the summer of 2003, Russia's President Vladimir Putin had his first deputy chief of the Presidential Administration and confidant Dmitry Kozak, who had little, if any, experience in diplomacy, conduct secret shuttle diplomacy with President Vladimir Voronin of Moldova and President Igor Smirnov of Transnistria. It was a bold initiative by Putin, who, along with Voronin, ignored the other settlement co-mediators at first; however, the other co-mediators, becoming aware of what was afoot, wanted to merge an OSCE draft with that of Putin, but to no avail. The Russians presented their final draft, entitled "Memorandum on the Basic Principles for the State Structure of the United State," to William Hill, ambassador of the OSCE mission to Chisinau, on November 14. Voronin, calling the draft "realistic," initialed each page and promised his signature. Under what was played up as an asymmetrical federation, which Voronin had outwardly insisted on all along, Transnistria would have its own separate constitution, legislature, budget, tax system, and other attributes of...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A183859064