Only six days ago, I wrote this entry entitled “5+2 Lviv meeting – Frozen Conflict progress?“
It relates to a conversation I had with several people over lunch from Moldova and Ukraine in Odessa, and the prospects of some positive momentum in the protracted issues on the Ukrainian border between Moldova and Trasnistria.
Two days ago, I received an email from a reader drawing my attention to the very last line of that entry – “assuming the Moldavian government can hold it together that long! ” – Something quite prophetic considering within the last six days, we have indeed seen the Moldavian government collapse.
The question in the email was simply how did I know? The simple and honest answer is I didn’t know – but given the amount of political turmoil Moldova forever seems to find itself in, it appeared to be a caveat worthy of inclusion regardless of the chances of any collapse occurring before the Lviv 5+2 meeting.
Thus prophetic I am not – wise enough to consider any possible collapse and include in the entry, well maybe so.
To prove just how blind to the future I am, I would suggest you, dear readers, take a moment to reread the above entry via the link, and then read what I am about to write – which will probably bring my rather hopeful post crashing back down to reality with an unceremonious and rather abrupt bump.
Firstly, despite the glee of the Moldavian Communist opposition party at the collapse of the pro-EU ruling coalition, does the government’s collapse actually change the position of Moldova relating to Transnistria? After all, it was still an issue for the Communists when they were in power in Moldova – despite both the Communists and the leadership of Transnistria having a prima facie preference for the Kremlin rather than the EU.
That said, as the EU will be very unwilling to have Moldova enter its ranks with an on-going protracted conflict - (lessons learned from the Cypriot entry one hopes) – thus the real political will to resolve the issue under Communist rule may very well have be missing despite any rhetoric.
None of that however, seems equal to the very recent and significant spanner that Russia has seemingly thrown into the works – undoubtedly with the limited real purpose – in part – of insuring Ukraine fails to achieve what is one of its headline OSCE chairmanship issues – progress in the OSCE regional frozen conflicts.
One more stick to beat Ukraine with and cause international embarrassment in failing to make progress with a Ukrainian nominated headline OSCE issue.
What is the said spanner I write of? Well, as I wrote in the afore linked post, there were issues I was not prepared to write about – then. Some I considered too sensitive. However with the subsequent fall of the Moldavian government a few days ago and where that leaves the Lviv 5+2 talks, it seems right to enlighten readers on one or two matters.
Russia has tried, with no success, to open a Russian consulate in Transnistria historically. Something that would have complicated matters greatly as it would at the very least, diplomatically and politically be an overt recognition of Transnistria’s absolute autonomy from Moldova by Russia.
Now, not to be defeated, Russia has a different plan which will be equally as problematic when it comes to any solution other than, at the very least, the absolute autonomy of Transnistria.
The Transinistria government has property within the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. It has given a small building to the Russian government who plan to open what is in effect going to be a consulate on what will probably be seen as Trasnistrian soil in the Moldavian capital.
This office is due to officially open, I now understand, at the end of the month and at least four Russian diplomats are already in place with the express aim of creating parity between Transistrian and Russian laws and regulations.
Thus it is quite clear that any hopeful scribblings I wrote only a week ago, are very likely to turn to dust as Russia sets out to scuttle any form of progress – and indeed probably complicate matters further – in what undoubtedly is in whole or in part, a deliberate sabotaging (one of many, and likely to increase in force and number this year) of Ukrainian policies, for refusing the Customs Union and still loudly shouting pro-EU rhetoric – even if that all turns to dust before November’s Vilnius summit – and it may very well turn to dust too!
Another summit with no progress, together with the collapse of the pro-EU coalition government is also likely to have implications for the signing of a DCFTA between the EU and Moldova.
Russia, it would appear, has, and is taking, the opportunity to undermine and increase pressure on two FSU nations who, currently at least, continue to make favourable pro-EU statements about their direction rather than favourable statements about heading into the Customs Union.
That Russian pressure will only increase between now and November for both Ukraine and Moldova. It’s going to be a long, diplomatically and politically fraught summer in this part of Europe for sure!