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2 September 2014
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Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

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Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

The Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis and the "Transnistrian Coordinate"

Relations between the EU and Russia are deeply bound together by the dialogue between three European "giants" - Medvedev, Merkel and Sarkozy who recently met in the French town of Deauville.
Denis CENUSA, 25 October 2010, 15:46

The subjects discussed concerned France's presidency in the G8 and G20, the state of negotiations in the Middle East, Iran's nuclear program and the multilateral partnership between the EU and Russia, notably in terms of European security. Despite differing speculations in the local press, the Transnistrian problem was far from being one of the major topics at the "trilateral" meeting and was just slightly touched upon at the end of the final political declaration passed upon its completion.

Russian-German-French Interrelation

Fluctuations between the three capitals result from the growing mutual advantage for each of them. The pro-Russian inclinations of the European leaders derive from the fact that Russia is both the oil and gas supplier for German consumers and a client for purchasing French armaments for the Russian armed forces modernization process to be completed by the end of 2014. Russia is also  an indispensable international player actively participating in most of the formats of talks over international conflicts settlement.

While the issue of natural gas supplies to Germany (especially after the launch of the North Stream gas pipeline), or French weapons producers' joy owing to the considerable orders made by Russia, were not clearly pointed out at the meeting, the Russian factor's significance when it comes to overcoming of problems caused by different international disputes was underlined. Moscow joined the position of France and Germany on such sensitive issues as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the nuclear dossier on Iran appearing suspicious and not willing to cooperate, thereby obtaining, though with some reservation, the principle consent of France's and Germany's leaders to manage the European-Atlantic and Eurasian security together.

Europe is taken into consideration by the Russian leadership owing to its innovative-technical capacities and huge investments, absorption of which is vital for the long-awaited "modernization" of the Russian economy, for lowering its dependency on the extractive industry and decreasing the development gap between it and the EU states. The need to realise these objectives puts the negotiations over visa liberalization between the EU and Russia at the top of actions aimed at intensifying and improving the functionality of the "Partnership for Modernization". The sustainability of this initiative depends on the opportunities and conditions of entry for businessmen from European states into Russia. The French variant of the declaration signed by the European "heavyweights" notes the need to achieve a specific process  to establish visa liberalization stages given the tasks suggested by the European Commission. [1] To demonstrate its autonomy in terms of the visa order facilitation to the national public opinion, in the Russian variant of the trilateral Declaration the Kremlin insisted on bilateral commitments refusing to admit Moscow's unilateral obligations to the European officials.

"Weak Sections" of the Trilateral Meeting in Deauville

Examining closely the political Declaration agreed upon by Sarkozy-Medvedev-Merkel, we can see some contradictory formulas which undermine the prevailing opinion of the European and local mass media about the perfect harmony between the three leaders.

First of all, we can notice the uneasy character of the negotiations regarding the setting up of a Russia-EU Commission, on the foreign affairs ministers' level, suggested on the basis of the Memorandum signed at the Merkel-Medvedev meeting of June 5, 2010. [3] Except for the support to cooperate in the field of security and foreign policy promised by the leaders, the political document neglects the "Russian-European Commission" suggested by the Russian and German parties about five months ago. The reason for this omission could have a duel-aspect: interference from the French President due to jealously over the cordiality of the Russian-German relations, or maybe the potential establishment of such a "commission" aroused some suspicion amongst EU states regarding Moscow's possible intervention into the European Union's security and foreign affairs policies.

The inconsistency in relations between the three leaders could be observed as they discussed security in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space. Moscow's approach differs from the French-German's tandem one. Unlike the logic of the pan-European security architecture actively promoted by the Russian party, the Merkel-Sarkozy coupling emphasizes the primacy of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with provision and supervision of security. Thus, the text of the trilateral political document totally lacks the potential for elaboration of a new treaty on the European security, despite the fact that the official Kremlin sources drew attention to the primacy of such a treaty during the meeting.

An ambiguous element was introduced into the political Declaration, into the chapter of "the joint cooperation in specific fields of security to consolidate mutual trust and to assist joint actions to prevent and settle crises". The discordance lies in the fact that the Memorandum signed earlier by Merkel and Medvedev clearly envisages its superiority with respect to the type of Russia-EU cooperation in security issues stressing practical recommendations to manage crises and conflicts in which both Russia and the EU participate as parties of the international formats [4].

A discrepancy is also felt with respect to the Transnistrian problem which, unlike in the Russian-German (European) Memorandum of June 5, is simply added into the general context of the "frozen" conflicts. The political document validated by signatures of the three leaders, recommends to assist the settlement of such types of conflicts, including the Transnistrian one, and to "cooperate to settle the Transnistrian conflict, to achieve progress in the 5+2 format as stipulated by the Merkel-Medvedev Memorandum". By signing the Memorandum, the parties agreed on the concrete actions in Russia-EU partnership enabling a gradual passing to the final stage of the Transnistrian conflict settlement.

Despite these well-masked moments of dispute, the three leaders welcomed the meeting in Deauville and suggested holding such a political "rendezvous" again in future.

The "Transnistrian Coordinate" in Russian conditions.

The local expectations concerning this event, which still had partially satisfactory results, were extremely high. With just the general statement regarding the search of solutions for "frozen" conflicts, nothing in the Declaration of the three leaders clearly referred to the Transnistrian problem. Some people consider this mention as a success, but analyzing it at the same time with the Memorandum's clauses we realize its inferiority. The reasons for this "disqualification" may vary, from pressure from Moscow, to the objective understanding by the three leaders of the political situation in Moldova, where the election campaign for the early parliamentary elections (November 28) has started. However, after the sitting Medvedev indicated that Russia, France and Germany have an opportunity to solve different conflicts, including the "frozen" ones [5]. The Russian President also specified the necessary conditions for resumption of the 5+2 format talks. The constructive position of the parties participating in the negotiation process is central to the "list of requirements" called by Medvedev. The other motives outlined by the Russian leader are the elections in the country and the confusing situation of the Moldovan political scene, which will influence the quality of the future ruling power and of the Moldovan representative in the negotiation process and format. Along with Chisinau's and Tiraspol's positions, the resumption of the process also depends on the EU and Romania.

As a matter of fact, it is the first time that Moscow has spoken this way about Bucharest regarding the Transnistrian problem. Medvedev meant both the non-signed bilateral documents with Moldova, the unclearness of which might cause discontent and suspiciousness among the population on the both banks of the Dniester. The same question was raised by the Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that Basescu specify the stages of the talks over the administration of the Moldovan-Romanian border.

Romania's role was also mentioned during the discussions with regards to the influence it might have on the election process in Moldova, through supporting particular political forces in the current government. This may lead to Moscow ignoring them, with a possible distrust after the elections as well, in case they gain the power again. According to the Russian authorities, this situation may indirectly restrict the Transnistrian settlement.

Irrespective of the fragmented talks over the Transnistrian settlement that have been held until now, the negotiations can only be incited if the EU manages to please Russia, either by offering it clear prospects as to establishment of the new security architecture in exchange for the concessions in the Transnistrian problem or by convincing Chisinau to accept the compromise formula with Tiraspol to work out measures aimed at the long-term consolidation of trust between the two banks.

The clear position in terms of the Transnistrian problem, in the packet of coordinates of the leading states including the EU, will be reflected in the OSCE's political Declaration due to be signed at the Organization's summit in December 2010 when the Russia-European Union high meeting takes place.

References:

1. Ils ont vivement souhaité que des progrès soient accomplis pour définir les étapes d'un régime de circulation sans visa lors du sommet UE-Russie en décembre, en prenant en compte l'offre présentée par l'UE., Déclaration finale à l'occasion de la rencontre tripartite Allemagne-France-Russie, Deauville - Mardi 19 octobre 2010, http://www.elysee.fr/president/les-actualites/declarations/2010/declaration-finale-a-l-occasion-de-la-rencontre.9875.html

2.They expect that the progress regarding the joint steps towards the visa free trips will be achieved at the Russia-EU summit given the suggestion made by the EU. The statement of the French-German-Russian summit in Daeuville, October 19, 2010 http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/742

3. The Memorandum following the meeting of Russian President D. Medvedev and Germany's Federal Chancellor A. Merkel of June 4-5, 2010, the town of Meseberg, http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/575

4. To exchange opinions and elaborate recommendations regarding certain issues of cooperation including different conflicts and crisis situations with Russian and European Union assisting their settlement within the framework of the respective international formats. The Memorandum following the meeting of Russian President D. Medvedev and Germany's Federal Chancellor A. Merkel of June 4-5, 2010, the town of Meseberg, http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/575

5. The talks over Transnistria may be resumed after the elections in Moldova.  http://www.rian.ru/politics/20101019/287185619.html

 



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