The Role and Activities of the OSCE Mission to Moldova in the Process of Transdniestrian1 Conflict Resolution

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  • 1 Gottfried Hanne is a political scientist and worked in the OSCE Mission to Moldova from April 1999 to November 2002. Currently he is writing his Ph.D. on the Transdniestrian conflict at the Free University of Berlin.

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  • 1 The Transdniestrian region of Moldova is referred to as `Transnistria by most of the Romanian-speaking pop- ulation of Moldova, as well as by many Westem researchers.This name, deriving from Latin, means, according to the Romanian and Moldovan geographic perspective from the West, the territory 'beyond' (trans-) the river Dniester (Romanian: Nistru). Most of the Russian-speaking population of Moldova refers to the region as 'Pridnestrov'e', meaning, according to the Russian and Ukrainian geographic perspective from the East, the territory 'on this side', or also 'at' (including both sides) (Russian: pri-) of the river Dniester (Russian: Dnestr). The Latin-Slavic hybrid form `Transdniestria or'Transdniester�I'ransdniestrian region came into use in the English language reports and documents of the CSCE/OSCE and other international organizations, as well as in the work of some English language Western researchers since the armed conflict in Moldova attracted international attention in 1992, and will also be used in this article. 2 Agreement 'On the Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transdniestrian Region of the Republic of Moldova', 21 July 1992. 3 Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), since 1995 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The two abbreviations will be used according to the time of reference. 4 For an analysis of the causes, dynamics and consequences of the conflict, see the contribution of Stefan Troebst, 'The 'Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic': From Conflict-Driven State-Building to State-Driven Nation-Building', in this volume.

  • 5 'Report of the CSCE Rapporteur Mission to Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus', CSCE Communication No.126, Prague, 7 April 1992. 6 Decision of the 15th Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials in: CSCE Journal No.2, Prague, 14 August 1992. 7 Interim Reports: CSCE Communication No.281, Prague, 16 September 1992; CSCE Communication No.281/Add.l, Prague, 5 November 1992, CSCE Communication No.281/Add.2, Prague, 3 December 1992. Final Report and Recommendations: CSCE Communication No.38, Prague, 2 February 1993. 8 The text of the decision is reprinted in Adam Rotfeld's comprehensive account of his activity as Personal Representative in: Adam Daniel Rotfeld, 'In Search of a Political Settlement: The Case of the Conflict in Moldova', in Staffan Carlsson (ed.), The Challenge of Preventive Diplomacy: the Experience of the CSCE (Stockholm, 1994), 100-137, at 132-133. 9 The most recent, comprehensive and profound analysis is Claus Neukirch, Konffiktmanagement und Konffikt- prävention im Rabmen von OSZE-Langxeitmissionen: Eineflnalyse derMissionen ire Moldau und Estland (Baden- Baden, 2003) . Other analyses can be found in P. Terrence Hopmann, `The OSCE Role in Conflict Prevention before and after Violent Conflict: The Cases of Ukraine and Moldova', Studien und Bericbte zur Sicberheit- spolitik (2000), 25-61; Klemens Biischer,'Die Missionen in der Republik Moldau und in der Ukraine: Eine doppelte Bilanz', in Institut fiir Friedensforschung und Sicherlieitspolitik an der Universitat Hamburg / IFSH (ed.), OSZE-Jahrbucb 1999 (Baden-Baden,1999), 221-237; Id.,'Moglichkeiten und Grenzen des OSZE-Kon- fliktmanagements in Moldova', 3(2) Ethuos - Nation (1995), 71-84; Stefan Troebst,'Der Transnistrienkonflikt und seine Bearbeitung durch die OSZE', in Giinter Baechler and Arno Truger (eds.), Ilfrikanische Perspe- ktiven: Friedensbericht 1998.� Tfieorie und Praxis ziviler Konffiktbearbeitung (Ziirich, 1998), 347-379; Id., 'Kein spektakularer Erfolg, aber Spannungen reduziert: Die OSZE in der Republik Moldova',15(1) Wissenschaft und Frieden (1997), 23-27; Id., Die OSZE in der Republik Moldova 1992-1996, 36(3/4) Der Donauraum (1996), 53- 62 ; Id., 'Internationale Vermittlungsbemuhungen zwischen Moldova und der selbsternannten Transnistrischen Moldavischen Republik: Als KSZE-Diplomat beiderseits des Dnestr', 5 Berliner Osteuropa Info (1995),18-22; Id,'Die Langzeitmissionen der KSZE/OSZE in Mazedonien und Moldova aus der Binnensicht', in M.A. Hatschikjan and P.R. Weilemann (eds.), Natioualismeu im Umbruch: ��nt'z<7a� Staat und Politik im neuen Osteuropa (Koln,1995), 232-248; Rolf Welberts, `Der Einsatz der OSZE in der Republik Moldau', in Institut fiir Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik an der Universitat Hamburg / IFSH (ed.), OSZE Jahrbuch 1995 (Baden-Baden, 1995), 193-210. For a critical, but partly uninformed assessment, see Vladimir Socor, 'The OSCE and `Federalization' Failing in Moldova', Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies (IASPS) Policy Briefings: Geostrategic Perspectives on Eurasia, No.13, Washington D.C., 27 January 2003.

  • 10 Klemens Bnscher has called this part of the Mission its 'implicit mandate'. See Biischer, 'Moglichkeiten und Grenzen ...', 75. II For the original text of the mandate, see the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) decision of 4 February 1992 and the terms of reference, approved by the CSO Vienna Group preliminary on 11 March 1993 and finally on 28 April 1993. 12 Decision 329 of the 261th Plenary Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, in PC Journal Vo.261, 9 December 1999. 13 Biischer, 'Moglichkeiten und Grenzen ...', 75. 14 Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement ... ,192.

  • 15 E.g. linking up with moderate groups, dissemination of balanced information among the population, development and empowerment of civil society, establishment of democratic institutions etc. See Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement ... , 265-266.

  • 16 The former Plenipotentiary Representative of President Yeltsin, Yuri Karlov, went so far as to call the inclusion of the OSCE Mission into the mediation of the conflict `not very productive'. See Ju. E. Karlov, 'Pridnestrovskij Konflikt: Geopoliticeskie, pravovye i organizacionnye aspekty uregulirovanija', Issledovanie CMI MGIMO No.18, (Moscow, 2000), at 16. 17 Thus, in 1997 the Ukrainian Plenipotentiary Repesentative had to mediate in disputes between the Russian Plenipotentiary Representative and the OSCE Mission. See Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement.... 149. 18 Thus, two concrete models for a political settlement elaborated by international experts, including Russian experts, together with Moldovan and Transdniestrian representatives in a Ukrainian initiated and OSCE supported workshop in Kiev in March 2000 did not result in any step forward in the negotiation process, as in the aftermath of the workshop, the Russian mediator did not support any actions on the basis of these models. In another instance in 2000, the Russian Federation refused an OSCE proposal to invite the sides and mediators to a conference in Baden near Vienna to restart negotiations. 19 The Mission proposal is included in Mission Report No.13 (13 November 1993) at moldova/documents/files/Reportl3.pdf. 20 Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement.... 144-145.

  • 21 The Memorandum stipulated the establishment of state-legal relations between the Republic of Moldova and Transdniestria, the participation of Transdniestria in the implementation of Moldova's foreign policy as far as Transdcriestrian interests are concerned, and granted Transdniestria the right to own international contacts in economic, scientific-technical, cultural and other spheres to be agreed by the parties. Text of the Memorandum at

  • 22 Cooperation partners in these side activities were the Centre for Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent in Canterbury, the British NGO 'Moldova Initiative Committee of Management' (MICOM), the European Institute for Minority Issues (ECMI), the International Foundation for Security, the Moldovan Helsinki Citizens Assembly, and the Moldovan Committee for Reconciliation and Democracy. 23 As the Transdniestrian leadership threatened with sanctions those economic agents in the region willing to register according to Moldovan demands, the foreign trade of Transdniestria decreased dramatically after September 2001. As a result, the Transdniestrian budget for the year 2002 fell by nearly 50% in comparison to 2001. 24 For instance, the introduction of taxes on Moldovan products, confiscation of land of Moldovan villages from the left-bank enclaves under Moldovan control, blockade of Moldovan prison no.8 in Bendery, pres- sure on Moldovan schools in Transdniestria that teacb the Moldovan curriculum and in the Latin script.

  • 25 For an unofficial translation of the text into English and a well-founded critique of the draft, see Bruno Coppieters and Michael Emerson, 'Conflict Resolution For Moldova and Transdniestria Through Feder- alization ?', Centre for European Policy Studies, CEPS Policy Brief No.25 (Brussels, August 2002), also at See also Vladimir Socor, 'Federalization Experiment in Moldova', 1(4) Russia and Eurasia Review (16 July 2002), at 26 Neukirch, .Xon/?h�/�M'Mi�m

  • 29 Russian text and unofficial translation into English in the Annex to Mission Report 14/94 (25 July 1994). 30 Mission Report 2/96 (1 February 1996), 4. 31 Thus, sometimes the JCC is not even able to agree on the working agenda for the sessions. In other instances no agreement is possible on the protocol of the session or on reports of the JMC. 32 Text at

  • 33 The military units and formations of the 14th Soviet Guard Army were divided between Moldovan and CIS jurisdiction by an agreement between the government of Moldova and the Command of CIS Armed Forces on 20 March 1992. Already on 1 April 1992, however, those units and formations that came under CIS jurisdiction were transferred to Russian jurisdiction by a legally doubtful decree of Russian President Yeltsin. From 1 April 1992 the former 14th Soviet Guard Army thus was referred to as 14th Russian Armv until its reorganization into the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) on 1 July 1995. See Mihai Gribincea, 1he Russian Policy on Military Bases: Georgia and Moldova (Oradea, 2001), at 142-147. 34 Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement .... 134-135. 35 William Hill, 'Making Istanbul a Reality: Moldova, Russia, and Withdrawal from Transdniestria', 14(2) Helsinki Monitor (2002),129-145, at 133.

  • 36 See the OSCE Summit documents from Budapest (1994) and Lishon (1996), and the OSCE Ministerial documents from Copenhagen (1997) and Oslo (1998) at 37 Hill, 'Making Istanbul a Reality ...', 134. 38 Mihai Gribincea, The Russian Policy on Miltary Bases: Georgia and Moldova (Oradea, 2001), 257; Dov Lynch, Russian Peacekeeping Strategies in the CIS: The cases of Moldova, Georgia and Tajikistare (Basingstoke, Hamp- shire, 2000), 110. 39 Hill,'Making Istanbul a Reality ...',134. 40 However, as most 14th Army personnel had settled with their families in the region or married into the local Transdniestrian population, most officers and soldiers stayed in the region, joining Transdniestrian armed forces or retiring.

  • 41 Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement .... 176. 42 The US Congress alone allocated up to 43 million USD to support the Russian withdrawal from Moldova and Georgia. See Hill, 'Making Istanbul a Reality ...',138. 43 Text of the relevant Istanbul decisions at 44 Hill, `Making Istanbul a Reality ...',140.

  • 45 Information received from OSCE Mission members in February 2003. 46 Text of Porto documents at 47 BASA press, 3 March 2003. 48 Information received by OSCE Mission members on 10 March 2003.

  • 49 Between 1994 and 2001, six elections were monitored on the right bank of the Dniester in Moldova proper by the ODIHR. Furthermore, the Mission assessed the regional elections in the autonomous region of Gagauzia in 1995,1999 and 2002. Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement ..., 184. 50 Earlier activities include the Mission's and ODIHR's participation in the discussions on a new constitu- tion (1993-94), the discussions on a new media law, as well as the organization of a NGO training seminar (1994). 51 For early examples see Biischer,'\Ioglichkeiten und Grenzen ...', 79-80.

  • 52 See Mission Report No. 4/2000. 53 Ilie Ilascu was sentenced to death in Tiraspol in 1993 and four other members of his group were sentenced to long-term imprisonment for alleged murder and terrorist acts committed during the armed conflict. The Mission tried in vain to find a third country willing to hold a retrial of the case, proposed by ODIHR experts who assessed the trial (Rzeplinski Report at Since then the Mission has tried to maintain international attention by reporting on the case. The Mission has also often mediated between Transdniestrian authorities and the wives of the prisoners and in relation to the condi- tions of visits, delivery of food and medication, as well as of medical examinations. In March 2003, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held court hearings on the case in the premises of the Mission in Moldova. The Mission also mediated a compromise solution with Transdniestrian authorities, to enable the ECtHR to visit and speak to the three not-released prisoners from the Ilascu Group.

  • 54 Thus, the release of Ilascu in May 2001 was mainly due to pressure from the Russian government which feared the pending ECtHR proceedings on the Ilascu case against Moldova and the Russian Federation. 55 See Mission Report No.11/1993. 56 Within the project, teachers of the Romanian language in minority schools are trained in modern teaching methodologies. The project started in October 2000 and is still continuing today. Most of the language teachers of the 5'" to 9`" grades have been trained. By the end of 2002, about EUR 400,000 had been donated for the project, which has become the second-largest project of the HCNM.

  • 57 The UNCHR during 1999-2002 equipped the schools with furniture and providing funding for improve- ment of the premises as a measure to prevent internal displacement. 58 Aware of this, the HCNM is consequently taking the role of an observer, as the school conflict is not a separate interethnic issue that could be solved with the means available to the HCNM. 59 The Gagauz, a Turk people of Christian-Orthodox faith concentrated in the Southeast of Moldova, declared their own republic in August 1990, protesting against Moldovan language policy and fearing a union of Moldova with Romania. However, the conflict never escalated into open violence and since 1993, Moldovan and Gagauz authorities have been discussing an autonomy status for the region. 60 However, OSCE participating states did not react to the Mission's initiative to support the stabilization and development of Gagauzia with concrete economic and democratization projects. See Neukirch, Konflikt- management ...,182.

  • 61 Mission Report No.12/2000. 62 See Mission Report No.9/2000. 63 See Mission Report No.8/2001 and \0.19/2001.

  • 64 Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement .... 183.

  • 65 For a similar assessment see Neukirch, Konfliktmanagement .... 191.

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