Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Update No: 298 - (27/10/05)
A new type of Cold War with Russia
Moldova's most important international interlocutor is undoubtedly Russia. There
is intense diplomatic activity going on now between Moscow, Chisinau (Kishinev)
On October 14th, a Russian delegation, headed by Yuri Zubakov, Deputy Secretary
of Russia's Security Council, returned empty-handed from Moldavia. During the
negotiations in Chisinau Moscow had asked directly: would Moldavia agree to
resolve the Transdnestr problem on Russian conditions (basically continued
Russian military presence in the region and its effective domination by Moscow).
Otherwise it could expect a tough economic blockade from the Russian side, in
other words no gas in winter,
The Moldavian President Vladimir Voronin rejected the ultimatum. Then, the
Russian delegation went to Tiraspol (capital of the breakaway region) and got
agreement with its authorities about special economic relations with the
unrecognized republic, which means smuggling, embezzlement and crime of every
sort unimaginable in the West. This clearly indicates that Transdnestr is
becoming second only to the Kaliningrad region as a Russian enclave, the other
bolt-hole for every sort of crook imaginable in the East.
The visit started on October 11th in an atmosphere of secrecy. The agenda and
list of the negotiators were not publicized.
But we are dealing with an ex- communist country as a matter of fact, despite,
actually because of, the triumph of the Moldovan Communist Party in March. They
delight in telling the facts these days.
Only several days afterwards it became known that Yuri Zubakov brought with him
Vice President of Trade Industrial Chamber (TIC) Boris Pastukhov, Special
Foreign Envoy Igor Savolsky, other officials from the Foreign Ministry, who
supervise the Pridnestrovie problem, the officials from Ministry of Economic
Development, the representative from Gasprom, Central Bank, Federal Security
Bureau, Transportation Ministry and Federal Migration Service. In other words,
the representatives of the official organs, responsible for the relationship
with Moldavia went to Chisinau. The same people are using recently economic and
political leverages to pressure this former-Soviet republic. For instance, in
September Russia imposed a ban for import of Moldavian vines and earlier it
promised to raise the price for natural gas to the European price level.
As Kommersant learned from the Administration of the Moldavian President, they
have never seen yet that many Russian officials in Chisinau before. The source
said that Russians flew in by their own initiative and after their persistent
request, Vladimir Voronin delayed his departure to Croatia, which was planned on
Tuesday. According to the Kommersant source, the negotiations lasted about three
hours but did not bear any fruits-- the Moldavian President categorically
refused to make any concessions in Pridnestrovie (Moscow demands most of all to
keep their troops, the so-called Russian 'peacekeepers'). The delegation spent
three days in Chisinau and met with Moldavian Prime Minister Vasily Tarlev,
local head of the Foreign Ministry Andrey Stratan and Reintegration Minister
Vasily Shova. The Moldavian officials were insisting that they cannot make any
decisions without the consultation with the head of state and he did not leave
any instructions. All of this looked like complete seizure of the dialogue
From Friendship to Blockade
In the mean time, only two years ago the relationship between Russia and
Moldavia was the most cloudless in the CIS, and Vladimir Voronin was known as
the most pro-Russian politician in all post-Soviet space. It was because of
Russian support of the leader of Moldavian communists became president in 2001.
After that he was warmly received in the Kremlin during his visits. The
relationship spoiled the fall before last. In October of 2003, President Voronin
rejected the previously agreed upon plan of Pridnestrovie settlement, which was
created at that time by the head of the Russian Presidential Administration
Dmitry Kozak. This plan was rejected just several hours before Russian President
Vladimir Putin was ready to fly to Chisinau. After breaking up with Moscow,
Moldavian president decided to place his bets with Brussels, and announced the
course of the country's integration into the European Union. Because of that,
Voronin won presidential election for the second time in the spring of 2005.
Since then, the ways of Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Voronin crossed only in rare
CIS summits. During the last one - in August of this year in Kazan -- two
presidents agreed "to overcome the obstacles on the way of development of
normal Russian-Moldavian relations." According to the official version, the
two presidents talked already in Kazan about the Zubakov's delegation visit.
Moscow, probably, thought, that after Moldavia lost its main market for the wine
export, Chisinau will come back to its senses and will raise the white flag. It
did not happen this way.
However, the failure of the negotiations could be predicted several days before
their start. It became clear after the interview of Moldavian President to BBC
Rumanian Service. "I officially state that Moldavia is ready to live
without its wine export to Russia. It will be difficult, but we are ready to
live in the cold, to freeze without Russian gas, but we won't give up. Moldavia
will not sacrifice its integrity, sovereignty and freedom, despite the price we
would have to pay," Voronin said. Possibly, if this interview was read in
Moscow, the delegation, headed by Zubakov, would cancel its trip to Moldavia.
Yuri Zubakov was put on the Moldavian beat for a reason. Starting from the
August of 2003 until the April of 2004, he worked in Moldavia as an Ambassador.
It was Zubkov who helped Dmitry Kozak to persuade the authorities of Moldavia
and Pridnestrovie to accept the Russian settlement plan, which later was called
by the press "Kozak's memorandum." However, Zubakov did not last a
year as the Ambassador -- Chisinau rejected the Kremlin's plan, getting mad at
the condition of maintaining the presence of Russian troops in Pridnestrovie for
15 years. Zubakov was called back to Moscow, where the position of the Deputy
Secretary of Security Council was waiting for him. In his new job, Zubakov
started to specialize on settlements in post-Soviet space with retaining the
Russian influence in CIS countries.
Under Zubakov, the Security Council developed the so-called "plan of
measures to maintain the Russian influence in Republic of Moldavia." The
main goal of the Russian policy was prevention of Moldavia's leaning to the
Western direction and escape from the Moscow's influence. The goal was also to
keep Russian military present in Pridnestrovie. To keep Chisinau in Moscow's
orbit, the plan offered to increase political and trade-economical, and
humanitarian pressure in the most sensitive points. However, the document
cautioned that the possible sanctions against Moldavia should at all cost bypass
On the next day after the cold reception in Chisinau, Yuri Zubakov took the
Russian delegation to Pridnestrovie capital - Tiraspol. Here, the Russian
officials were met warmly. On Wednesday and Thursday the delegation was having
negotiations with Igor Smirnov, the president of the unrecognized republic. The
goals and results of the visit was commented on by Boris Pastukhov, President of
Trade-Industrial Chamber. According to him, the chosen line lays in the
direction of forming new pragmatic policy by Moscow. "The time of
'giveaways,' conversations, kisses, including the economical ones, has
passed," Pastukhov said. "When our Pridnestrovie colleagues say that
it is hard to move their production to Russia and customs control is being
brutal, we are intending to take on these problems very closely." It was
decided not to prolong the solutions of the problems and the two sides
immediately signed an agreement "About the perspectives of cooperation
between Russian and Pridnestrovie business communities."
Tiraspol was full of joy. The head of the Pridnestrovie Foreign Ministry Valery
Litskai told Kommersant that Russia should have switched a long time ago from
diplomatic pirouettes to the pragmatic policy. "That should have started
five years ago. Why is there Russian-Moldavian commission and no Russian-Pridnestrovie
commission? Now, everything will be different," he said. According to the
minister, there were discussions with Russian experts about the gas supply to
Pridnestrovie, cooperation in the area of energy resources, transportation,
industry and banking.
Because Pridnestrovie is territorially separated from Russia by Ukraine, Moscow
does not have the opportunity to support directly the rebellious region. It is
clear that Russia would have to use a special ways to help friendly republic. In
this case it could use the experience of Kaliningrad region -- Moscow hopes to
get agreement from Kiev about the transit through the Ukrainian territory of
people and cargo.
However, the perspectives of the Russian-Pridnestrovie cooperation do not look
too encouraging. The reaction of European Union and the United States would be
strictly negative. Brussels and Washington are seeing the self-proclaimed
republic as a criminal enclave on CIS territories, which has the function of a
hub for illegal weapons dealing, drug trafficking and other criminal activity,
which for reasons Moscow never explains, is maintained by them for those
purposes. Also, only two years from now Romania will join the EU and Moldova
will have a common border with European Union. It means that Brussels wants to
speed up final solution of the Pridnestrovie conflict, which is impossible with
the current position of Moscow. That's what Chisinau is really hoping for -- the
help from the West.
Moldova and Bosnia/Herzegovina agree on cooperation
Moldovan President, Vladimir Voronin, and President of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Ivo Miro Jovic, have agreed on exchange of visits by parliamentary and
governmental delegations of the two countries. This accord was achieved in the
framework of bilateral meetings of the heads of Central European states who have
gathered in Zagreb (Croatia) for their 12th Summit.
The two Presidents have also agreed that Ivo Miro Jovic will pay a visit to the
Republic of Moldova.
Vladimir Voronin said that for Moldova, collaboration with Bosnia and
Herzegovina is particularly important because it has signed the Stability Pact
for South Eastern Europe. The availability of Agreements on free trade exchange
with all the Pact member states opens to Moldova wide possibilities for economic
The two Presidents share an opinion that Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina have
much in common in their development and come across similar problems, therefore
it is essential for them to maintain a continuous dialog.
European Commission grants Moldova 1.2m Euros in aid
The European Commission has transferred 1.2 million euros to Moldova's state
budget under the Food Security Program for Moldova, the republic's prime
minister said, RIA Novosti website reported
Vasile Tarlev said this was the first tranche of the April 2005 agreement
between the Moldovan government and the European Commission. "The grant
Moldova is expected to receive in three phases will total 9.2 million
euros," Tarlev said.
EC representative in Moldova Chezare de Montis said the aid would help the
republic curb poverty, support the socially vulnerable sections of society, and
foster the development of agriculture, the main sector of the economy.
The issue dates of the remaining tranches will be announced in the next few
weeks. The Moldovan cabinet of ministers' reform record will be taken into
consideration, a European official said.
"The support the republic is receiving from the European Commission will
help it achieve the objectives outlined in the Economic Growth and Poverty
Reduction Strategy and in the EC-Moldova Action Plan," Tarlev said.