The Republic of Moldova has been in the spotlight in the month of December, as debate circles about the nation’s future integration with its allies to the east or west. Due to its location in the direct centre of the crossroads between Russia and the European Union, experts argue that it is only a matter of time before the country will choose the path of future integration with Europe or with the East. Others feel that the future is uncertain, and much like Moldova itself, in a constant state of flux.
At the forefront of the discussion is Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova which borders Ukraine, and currently remains unrecognized by any country. Transnistria is one of four remaining post-Soviet “frozen conflict” zones, along with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, South Ossetia,Republic of Abkhazia, and has been dogged by on-going war and ethnic conflict with Moldova since 1992. The region is plagued by corruption and a politically manipulated judiciary system which bleeds into the region’s rule of law.
In recent talks with Jean-Claude Mignon, the president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti assured him that the Republic of Moldova was ready and willing to discuss any resolution proposal to alleviate the conflict with this breakaway region. In turn, Mignon expressed support for the” Five Plus Two” format for seeking a solution to the Transnistrian tension–which would entail a direct mediation of the conflict between Moldova and Transnistria by Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, European Union and United States. In addition to this, assistance with making other reforms, including the current judiciary system, were discussed, with a view to bringing Moldova closer to the horizon of EU integration. Speaking at the meeting with Mignon, Moldova’s deputy prime minister for reintegration, Eugen Carpov, said:
“Today the geopolitical situation prevents us from taking revolutionary steps in the Transnistrian conflict settlement process, and so we will continue our policy of ‘minor moves’ in specific fields that are aimed at solving problems for the population on both sides of the Dniester.”
However, Transnistria and Russia are against the prospect of the “5+2” settlement plan, and Ukraine has forecasted that it will side with Russia in this instance. In spite of its turmoil with Transnistria, Moldova is further along than the Ukraine in its discussions of a visa-free regime with the EU, and is also closer to finalizing its association agreement, which is expected to be signed in late 2013 and ratified soon thereafter.