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Public Discussion: Request to withdraw Russian troops from Moldova: legitimacy, advantages and threats

on the organization of the debate
“Request to withdraw Russian troops from Moldova: legitimacy, advantages and threats”.  Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”

Held on 4 September 2017, Debate 76 brought together: Sergiu Sîrbu, Democratic Party MP;  Vladimir Țurcan, Socialist MP; Roman Boțan, Liberal MP; Sergiu Perciun, vice president of the Moldova Patriots Party; Dinu Plîngãu, member of Dignity and Truth Platform Party; and Igor Boțan, director of ADEPT, the Project’s standing expert.

Why this subject and this selection of speakers? Why now?

The selection of speakers reflects quite well and in a sufficiently nuanced manner the diversity of opinions on the matter at hand.

This subject was chosen because it is crucial to the development and even existence of Moldova’s statehood, as it has an enormous potential, both constructive and destructive. It is true that the “great danger” predicted by some hasn’t happened yet, if ever; but in order to avoid it, and given the instructive component of our project, the general public should have more access, well in advance, to information and opinions, as diverse and objective as possible, so as to get oriented in a situation so complex and important for everyone.

Again, due to our special focus on popularizing political concepts, it is a good idea to start with some background, in particular the Parliament’s Declaration that preceded the Government’s request for the UN to consider the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova during the upcoming General Assembly session. .

Igor Botan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said the Parliament’s statement is a political document that expresses the will of a parliamentary majority. This statement was issued in a new and unique context generated by the May 2 judgment of the Constitutional Court, which says that the stay of Russian troops in Transnistria is illegal and unconstitutional and the Transnistrian territory is occupied by the Russian Federation. The Constitutional Court’s decision represents a new element, but such statements are made practically annually at the OSCE ministerial meetings that are usually held in the first week of December in the capitals of the countries that hold the presidency of this organization. Furthermore, from time to time this message is found in the positions stated by Moldovan high-ranking officials at the rostrum of the UN General Assembly.

As regards the legal framework, Igor Botan reminded of the document signed in July 1992, by which the hostilities on the Nistru were stopped and which stated the actions that were to be taken later. In October 1994, the Prime Minister of Russia Chernomyrdin and Moldovan Premier Sangheli signed another document. This said that the pullout of the Russian troops was to be synchronized with the designing and acceptance by Transnistria of a special status within the Republic of Moldova. Things now have a particular status – the conflict is frozen, while the international 5+2 format is a kind of carapace that keeps this status frozen until things are clarified.

Democratic MP Sergiu Sarbu said that on July 21 this year, by that statement, Moldova’s Parliament did nothing but reiterate the position of the governments that ruled after 1992. As one of the authors of this initiative, Sergiu Sarbu said the statement is political, but is based exclusively on a legal approach. According to him, it is a legitimate request by the Moldovan authorities to unconditionally withdraw the Russian troops and munitions from the country’s territory that represent a constant threat to regional and even European security and stability. There was also made an absolutely legitimate call to modify the status of the peacekeeping mission from a military one into a civil one with an international mandate. Even if this statement was made with delay, the authorities should reassert this position every time or the memory of those killed in the Nistru war for defending the country’s integrity will be spoilt.

Socialist MP Vladimir Turcan said the Parliament’s statement is purely political and has no legal effects, but is very dangerous from political viewpoint. “What is the goal of these steps? What result do we want? Those who took these steps say that the wish is to swiftly and peacefully resolve the Transnistrian dispute, but everyone understands that this is not true. The resolution of this problem should start not from statements, but with bringing things in order in the country,” he stated. The MP noted that two aspects deserve attention in the Transnistrian conflict settlement process. The first is the political credibility of the Republic of Moldova and its government before the population of the Transnistrian region. The second is the necessity of creating socioeconomic living conditions on the right bank of the Nistru so that this is attractive to those from Transnistria. Everything should start from these two aspects. The purpose of foreign policy is to create conditions at external level for solving the country’s domestic problems. But such requests create problems at internal level and conditions that will be an obstacle in the international discussions in the ”5+2” format.

Liberal MP Roman Botan said such a statement was necessary and this should be permanently updated, while Moldova’s efforts should be consistent so as to internationalize this issue. “In this regard, the Moldovan diplomatic service should make effort for all the international players to know in essence the problem and the pressure exerted on the Russian Federation should bring results in the future. The Republic of Moldova cannot settle the conflict by itself and the international partners’ support is essential,” stated the MP. Roman Botan also said that from discussions with Transnistrians he deduced that the pressure exerted on the Moldovans citizens in the Transnistrian region is felt and the Republic of Moldova is obliged to defend the rights of its citizens everywhere.

Deputy chairman of the Party “Moldova’s Patriots” Sergiu Perciun said the consolidated will of a people is above any law, including the Constitution. “What does the 14th Army mean for us, the Moldovans? It is a guarantee that we will no longer go back to the Romanian area,” he stated, noting that “aggressive Romanization” is witnessed in society. According to him, the 14th Army should remain in Transnistria and be consolidated because Russia represents a clear guarantee that Moldova will survive as a state and the Moldovan people will not be Romanized. Russia, not the EU or Romania can create normal conditions for the socioeconomic development of the Republic of Moldova.

Dinu Plangau, the representative of the Political Party “Platform Dignity and Truth”, said the Transnistrian subject should be a top issue on Moldova’s agenda as it is of national interest. The Transnistrian conflict is a geopolitical one and of international law because the sides are two states – the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation – and Moldova’s right to territorial integrity was violated. This conflict was transformed from an armed one into a conflict of economic interests and different political leaders from Chisinau, through the agency of institutions from both sides of the Nistru, finance separatism, including through fraudulent schemes. The request to withdraw the Russian troops will remain on paper only as the facts show something else and the intention to resolve this conflict is actually false.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 04.09.17, „Request to withdraw Russian troops: legality, advantages, risks and dangers, IPN debate” -; „Vladimir Turcan: Statement on withdrawal of Russian troops is dangerous from political viewpoint” -; „Sergiu Sarbu: Government’s goal is to peacefully settle Transnistrian conflict” -; on 05.09.17, „Roman Botan: Transnistrian dispute can be resolved only with involvement of international players” -; „Sergiu Perciun: 14th Army should stay in Transnistria” -; „Dinu Plangau: Moldova’s right to territorial integrity was violated” -; „Igor Botan: Request to pull out military troops from Transnistria is a political approach” -  
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN


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