Ukraine and Moldova should outline red lines in Transnistrian case, study

To consolidate regional security and stability, especially in the context of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the illegal annexation of Crimea, the Governments of Moldova and Ukraine should outline the red lines and possible compromises acceptable to both sides in the Transnistrian dispute. The given statements should be formulated and published after consultations with the communities of experts of Ukraine and Moldova and with the partners of the 5+2 format. Furthermore, Ukraine can apply additional economic instruments to motivate the Transnistrian authorities to continue the political dialogue with Chisinau.

The current state and the prospects of the relations between Kyiv and Chisinau, which involve the Transnistrian issue, were analyzed within two mirror studies carried out simultaneously as part of the project “Moldova – Ukraine: Competition, Cooperation and Independence”. The project was implemented by the Ukraine Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation together with the Foreign Policy Council „Ukrainian Prism” in April – November 2017.

In a news conference at IPN, Angela Gramada, the representative of the Experts for Security and Global Affairs Association (Moldova), which carried out the study from the perspective of Moldova, said that in time Ukraine suggested several proposals for settling the Transnistrian conflict, but these were either fully rejected or weren’t fully accepted for the reason that some of them ran counter to Moldova’s interests. Ukraine should have taken a more active part in the activities to settle the Transnistrian conflict as there is a Ukrainian ethnic minority in the Transnistrian region, which represents about 30% of the population. Following the annexation of Crimea and the military aggression in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the resolution of the Transnistrian dispute became of national interest for Ukraine.

“This conflict for Ukraine has lately become a national interest given that a number of threats to its southwestern border can derive from the Transnistrian region. The Ukrainian side referred more to the military threats that can appear in the Transnistrian region as there is the storehouse in Cobasna, there is illegal trafficking in armament and illegal migration,” stated Angela Gramada.

The expert also spoke about the Moldovan-Ukrainian cooperation in border management that, according to her, no longer refers only to the management of the flow of illegal migrants, but also to the diminution of smuggling of goods and arms from Transnistria to Odessa. This is now a cooperation area that is difficult to be managed. The results obtained by both of the sides, including the opening of joint customs posts, are factors that show openness and capacity to interact with the aim of achieving common objectives.

Given the positive impact of the joint checkpoints, the study authors recommend showing readiness and interacting in order to achieve the common goals. The experts welcome the extension of the mandate of the EUBAM until 2020 and suggest establishing closer cooperation between the border police of the two states and implementing the good practices models of the EUBAM. According to them, the EU assistance in outfitting the transfrontier points continues to play a huge role.

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