About a frozen conflict, a geopolitical hockey match or about the forthcoming meeting between Filat and Smirnov in Tiraspol
Germany, Russia reach agreement on Moldova’s federalization
It is true. Filat will go to Tiraspol to honour the invitation of Smirnov. Vladimir Vasilievici [Filat] will meet Igor Nikolayevich [Smirnov] in the Dniester region, most probably in mid-May.
During a recent debate entitled „Does Moldova have a future in the EU?” organized by the Association of European Journalists, French section (Association des Journalistes Europeens, section France) in cooperation with the Foreign Press Centre – Paris (Centre d’ Accueil de la Presse Etrangere), Vladimir Filat confirmed that he will meet separatist leader Igor Smirnov.
Asked by journalists in what conditions he has started a direct contact with the so-called government in Tiraspol, Filat said: „The Dniester conflict should be solved peacefully with the direct participation of our foreign partners. The communication aspect should be associated with the negotiation aspect. Whether we like it or not, the Dniester side is also involved in this process. Being in power does not only mean taking decisions that suit us, but also taking complicated decisions that we do not like. I also did not like to cross the so-called border while going to Tiraspol. But I twice seized the opportunity to attend football matches [in Tiraspol] and hold discussions – discussions not in order to solve all issues but to find a solution to daily problems such as re-opening the Chisinau-Odessa train route through the Dniester region, solving the absurd situation when you have to dial international prefixes to give a call to the Dniester region and so on.! The Moldovan Prime Minister’s Hockey Cup begins in Tiraspol on 15 May. So it means that something can be done…[ellipsis as published]”
Yes, it can be done now that Prime Minister Filat likes sport as much as the bandits in Tiraspol like it. This is how somebody gets accustomed to a „federation”. [The prime minister] attends a football match together with Smirnov and [Dniester state security minister Vladimir] Antyufeyev, as we have a Moldovan Football Federation, then a hockey match near the same Russian citizens. The prime minister promises us a Moldovan Hockey Federation but at the end of the day we will remain with a „Moldovan Federation” only.
Not that we were prophets, but Flux has already written, on 6 April, that, apart from flirtatiously telling the mass media that he goes to the Dniester region as if he were going home, Filat agreed during a telephone conversation with Smirnov that the latter should send him an „official” invitation that the former will honour.
The cards were played before 5 April, when [Moldovan deputy prime minister in charge of reintegration issues Eugen] Carpov received the invitation from [Dniester foreign minister Vladimir] Yastrebchak. Then Vladimir Filat was praised by Russian citizen Igor Smirnov at a meeting with the ambassador of his own country [Russia] in Moldova, Valeriy Kuzmin, on 8 April.
Those who have made all the arrangements are some old friends of Moldova: our Russian friends and our German friends. This can be seen very well if one closely watches the agenda of Moscow and Berlin officials. And as Igor Nikolayevich Smirnov is Moscow’s protege, Vladimir Vasilievici Filat is Berlin’s protege. Each of them receives friendly suggestions from the capitals that adopted them in one way or another. The visits paid by Filat to Berlin and his meetings with German officials are as frequent as Smirnov’s visits to Moscow and his meetings with Russian officials.
Moscow, Berlin reportedly agree on Moldova’s federalization
Ambassador Patricia Flor with Igor Smirnov, Tiraspol, 1 of march 2011
Our diplomatic sources in Berlin and Brussels confirm that Russians and Germans have reached an agreement as regards the federalization of Moldova, the adoption of a new constitution, the legitimization of Russia’s military presence, Tiraspol’s veto on Chisinau’s foreign and security policy, and putting the new federal state under a Russian-German protectorate. In order to dispel the impression that this is just our intuition, we will show to our readers that a respected lady named Patricia Flor, who has the title of ambassador and is responsible for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia at the German Federal Foreign Office, is one of many German officials who has recently put delicate but explicit and insistent pressure on Chisinau, seeking the latter’s consent to a Russian-German project on Moldova’s federalization.
Ambassador Patricia Flor has suggested that the Moldovan officials should accept several things: 1. To distance themselves from the 2005 law on the basic provisions of the special status of the settlements from the left bank of the Dniester river (until it is suspended or cancelled); 2. To replace the current constitution which stipulates the state’s unity and integrity with another one drafted jointly with Tiraspol, which would provide for a federal status; 3. To get rid of the „federalism phobia” and to start the effective federalization of our country; 4. To create a Moldovan-German format for consultations on the Dniester issue (following the model of consultations between Moscow and Tiraspol); 5. To take into consideration a one plus one direct negotiating format (Chisinau-Tiraspol), which Germany sees as plausible.
Moscow and Berlin see namely Vladimir Filat and Igor Smirnov as the promoters of federalization.
[Passage omitted: The author says that in 2008 another German official, Ernest Reichel, the head of division for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and the CIS under the German Federal Foreign Office, tried to promote the federalization idea.]
Ernest Reichel has sent us several ideas concerning our country. Looking through the notes taken with German accuracy while Mr. Reichel was speaking, we deem it appropriate to carry some of them here: 1. Germany will accept what ever the interested sides (Chisinau and Tiraspol) agree upon; 2. Germany wants the conflicting sides to communicate directly (in the one plus one format); 3. The replacement of the Russian troops in Transnistria with an EU contingent is non-realistic; 4. The Russian troops will withdraw from Transnistria only after the conflict is solved for good; 5. [Russian President Dmitriy] Medvedev wants a common security architecture with the EU; 6. We (Germans) should reach a certain degree of confidence with Russians; 7. Moldova should promote reforms in order to be more attractive for the Dniester region.
This point of view looks very sincere and was expressed with enough personal conviction.
It is true that after this disturbing message from the German Federal Foreign Office, we received a string of explanations, much more nuanced, from the Federal Chancellery. The deputy director for bilateral relations, Christoph Israng, assured us that Berlin sees the Dniester region as a part of Moldova, whose territorial integrity is beyond any doubt. Also, contradicting the representative of the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Israng, said that Tiraspol cannot be an equal and lawful partner for Chisinau and that the five plus two format was the only valid negotiating framework. Christoph Israng also specified that it is not the business of German public servants to tell us what we should call our language.
[Passage omitted: Moldova’s former ambassador to Germany and now a Democratic Party lawmaker describes the language spoken in Moldova as Moldovan rather than Romanian.]
What we notice here is that the viewpoint expressed by Mrs. Ambassador Patricia Flor is practically identical with the one expressed more than two years ago by Mr. Director Ernst Reichel and contradicts to a large extent the one formulated by the representative of the Federal Chancellery, Christoph Israng.
Germany reportedly not interested in Russia’s military pullout from Moldova
Let’s return to the essence of the problem. At this point, several questions arise. Why does Germany want and why is it insistently demanding, in unison with Russia, that we distance ourselves from the 2005 law on the basic provisions of the special status of the settlements on the left bank of the Dniester river from 22 July 2005? Why are they suggesting to us that it should be cancelled? Why does Moldova’s current constitution not suit Berlin and Moscow?
Germany does not want the Russian army and secret services to be withdrawn immediately from Moldova. No matter how unexpected and shocking this may seem to some people, we should admit that this is the true goal Berlin sets when it asks that our current constitution should be cancelled in favour of a federal constitution and that we should distance ourselves from or even cancel the law on the basic provisions of the special status of the settlements on the left bank of the Dniester river No. 173-XVI from 22 July 2005. Officials in Berlin, just like their strategic partners in Moscow, understand that the law from 22 July 2005 is based on the constitution in effect. If the law from 22 July 2005 is enforced, this would lead to „the consolidation of the people’s unity, the restoration of the state’s territorial integrity, the creation of a single legal, economic, defence, social, customs and humanitarian area, as well as ensuring civic peace, confidence, mutual understanding and harmony in society, stability, security and democratic development in the state”. The! se are the goals envisaged in the law.
As we approach the core of the problem, we will see what exactly triggers Berlin’s (as well as Moscow’s) allergy to our law from 22 July 2005. It is the paragraph 2 of Article 1 of this law, which sees the sequence of steps in the process of settling the Moldovan-Dniester issue. Let’s see what exactly this paragraph says: & quot;(2) After the conditions of demilitarization stipulated in the Parliament’s Decision No. 117-XVI from 10 June 2005, in particular the conditions concerning the observation by the Russian Federation of the obligations undertaken at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul (1999) as regards the complete, urgent and transparent withdrawal of troops and armament from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, and after a democratically elected power system is created in the Dniester region, the negotiating process will take place in order to jointly draft the organic law of the Republic of Moldova on a special juridical status of the Dniester region.”
This is exactly where the headache for Moscow and Berlin lies. Our law says as clearly as possible: demilitarization and democratization go first, and then a special status is assigned. But Moscow, openly backed by Berlin, would like and insists for us to start from the other end. That is, it wants us to negotiate with Smirnov a special status before the Russian army and services are pulled out from the region. Thus, the new special status would allow foreign troops and secret services to be kept in eastern Moldova for an unlimited period. That is why Berlin has been urging Vladimir Filat to come to terms with Smirnov, who is Moscow’s man, and Moscow has been urging its protege, that is, Igor Smirnov, to publicly praise Filat and to invite him to „official” negotiations in the eastern zone of the country, which is controlled by the Russian army and secret services. Whoever doubts this should read more carefully the latest official statements on the Moldovan-Dniester issue by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
We shall also recall that the paragraphs 2 and 4 of the law from 22 July 2005 also stipulate that „the election to the Dniester supreme council [parliament] of the first convocation will be prepared and held with the consent of the OSCE, by the International Electoral Commission under the OSCE’s aegis, under the supervision of the Council of Europe and in line with the legislation of the Republic of Moldova. The fulfilment of the conditions of demilitarization and democratization of the Dniester region, seen in the decision of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova No. 117-XVI from 10 June 2005, will serve as reason for holding free and democratic elections” and that „the fundamental law of the Dniester region, and the amendments and supplements to it shall not be in breach of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova”.
Conditions for demilitarization of Dniester region
In this context, it is normal to ask what are the conditions for the democratization and demilitarization of the Dniester region stipulated in the law adopted by the Moldovan parliament on 10 June 2005. Here is the text that is in force: „Based on these constitutional provisions, as well as being convinced of the international community’s specific interest in a quick settlement of the Dniester conflict, the parliament of the Republic of Moldova sets the following indispensable conditions for the demilitarization of the Dniester zone:
1. By the end of 2005, the Russian Federation will withdraw and scrap the Russian military arsenal, as well as withdrawing the Russian military forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
2. The Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova will recognize the fact that the military units deployed in Moldova’s security zone, in line with the 21 July 1992 Moldovan-Russian [ceasefire] agreement, have achieved the set goals and they are to be gradually reduced and completely withdrawn from Moldova’s territory by 31 December 2006. Simultaneously, following Moldova’s address to the OSCE, the current peacekeeping operation will be gradually turned into an international mechanism of military and civil observers that will operate under the OSCE aegis, while the Moldovan-Russian agreement from 21 July 1992 will no longer be in force. The international mission of military and civilian observers with OSCE mandate will operate on the territory of Moldova until a final political solution to the Dniester conflict is found.
3. Moldova assumes the commitment to propose, in the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Programme, and to implement, through the international mission of military and civil observers in Moldova, the dissolution of military formations in the zone, the scrapping of weapons and military equipment, as well as the social rehabilitation and requalification of the staff of the so-called Dniester military formations.
4. For its part, the Moldovan parliament expresses its readiness to ratify the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, a fundamental element of European security, after the Russian Federation honors the commitments assumed at the 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul and withdraws all its armament and armed forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, including the contingent and the armament stipulated in the Moldovan-Russian agreement from 21 July 1992.”
Because of these provisions, Berlin is supporting Russia that has an illegal interest, instead of supporting the Republic of Moldova that has a legal interest. Our friends in Berlin give the impression that, according to them, the Republic of Moldova reportedly attacked the Russian Federation and now it should give up what does not legally belong to it. But the reality is completely opposite: Moldova is a victim of Russia’s aggression, while Moscow is obliged to withdraw within its borders.
In addition, the Moldovan constitution creates inconveniences because it prohibits the presence of foreign troops on its territory. Article 11 in Moldova’s fundamental law reads: „The Republic of Moldova proclaims its permanent neutrality. 2. The Republic of Moldova does not allow the deployment of foreign military troops on its territory.”
Our German friends, like our Russian friends, perfectly understand that given the existence of such a constitution, regardless how broad autonomy is given to the Dniester region, the Russian army cannot be given the right to stay in Moldova as it has already happened in Ukraine (Crimea), Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan or, for example, Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, we are being given the hint, in a German style, to say good-bye to our current constitution and to invite Russian citizen Igor Smirnov to draft a new federal constitution as his heart and the secret services want. It turns out that our much discussed neutrality on paper could serve a good cause and this irritates both Moscow and Berlin.
We have said this on different occasions and we repeat it: the Moldovan-Russian conflict in the Dniester region does not have an ethnic, linguistic, religious or social nature. It is a geopolitical and military conflict. The simple unconditional withdrawal of Russian military troops and secret services from the Republic of Moldova, as well as Kremlin’s decision to stop the large-scale financing of the puppet regime in Tiraspol would create real prerequisites for a final, equitable and durable settlement of the problem. The regime of Russian citizen Igor Smirnov was born, financed and protected by Moscow, while Germans know too only well Russians’ geopolitical and geoeconomic reasons for supporting the Dniester separatism.
Dniester conflict to be solved only after Russia’s military withdraws
There is too much room for disappointment in Chisinau. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel had at least once officially asked her friends in Moscow to stop financing the bandit regime in Tiraspol and to honour their international commitments concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, and if Moldovan officials had heard the same things from other top officials in Berlin, then we would have had reasons to believe that Germany does not have a secret common agenda with Russia against the Republic of Moldova. Otherwise, it is much more difficult to trust the pieces of advice given by Berlin in complicity with Moscow and with an insistence that would be good in pursuit of other much better goals.
Flux, Chisinau, in Romanian, 22 Apr 2011
Copyright for this english translation: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 2011