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United States Institute of Peace Virginia State University Frozen and Forgotten Conflicts in the Post-Soviet States: Genesis, Political Economy and Prospects for Solution Ceslav Ciobanu, Phd richmond, 2008


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United States Institute of Peace Virginia State University



Frozen and Forgotten Conflicts in the Post-Soviet States: Genesis, Political Economy and Prospects for Solution


Ceslav Ciobanu, PhD

Richmond, 2008

Table of Contents

Introduction ……………………………………………………………………….…..3
PART ONE: CONFLICTS IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: GENESIS AND EVOLUTION ……………………………………………………………....… 9
1. RECOVERY OF NATIONAL IDENTITY AND FORGOTTEN CONFLICTS ……………………………………………………………………………....…11

2. HISTORICAL MEMORY: MYTHS AND REALITY …………………………21

3 HISTORICAL, CULTURAL, AND LANGUAGE “GENERATORS” OF CONFLICTS …………………………………………………………………………31

4. POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, TERRITORIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ROOTS OF CONFLICTS …………………………………………………………………49


PART TWO: POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE POST-SOVIET REGIONAL CONFLICTS ………………………………………………………………………....69
1. POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE “TRANSNISTRIAN MOLDAVIAN REPUBLIC” ………………………………………………………………………….73

2. THE “NAGORNO KARABAKH REPUBLIC”: “NO WINNERS AND NO DEFEATED?” ………………………………………………………………... 106

3. ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA, AJARIA: CONFLICTS OF GEORGIA’S “ROSE REVOLUTION” ………………………………………………………… 120
PART THREE: NATO/EU ENLARGEMENT AND “FROZEN AND FORGOTTEN” CONFLICTS IN THE SOVIET SUCCESSOR STATES …………………….........137
1. “FROZEN AND FORGOTTEN”: RUSSIAN VS. EU/NATO APPROACH ….143

2. THE CONFLICT RESOLUTION BENEFITS OF A NATO/EU PARTNERSHIP …………………………………………………………………………………..152

3. PROSPECTS OF “FROZEN CONFLICTS”: CHALLENGES FOR THE U.S. AND RUSSIA …………………………………………………………………………..161
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS …………………………………..173

POST SCRIPTUM …………………………………………………………………..176

APPENDIX/MAPS …………………………………………………………………..178
Introduction

An old Moldovan proverb says: “Keep me Lord off my friends, and I’ll protect myself from my enemies…” The latest evolutions in the separatist Moldova’s region -Transnistria, confirmed once again this wisdom.


Until recently, the political, economical and cultural issues regarding Transnistria presented a challenge and problem mainly for Moldovan authorities and for Chisinau’s mission of the Organization for Security and Economic Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). However, today, an intriguing study-case for think-tanks involves the Transnistria issue and has extended into a subject of interest and concern for organizations and institutions such as: the European Union, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the European Union’s various structures and institutions, international forums, conferences and seminars, the international mass-media. This topic of interest is so complex and important that it is often discussed in bi- and multi-lateral debates and negotiations. The Joint Statement signed in December 2002 by President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Voronin on U.S.-Moldovan Relations underscored the “determination to bring the Transnistrian separatist conflict to a peaceful resolution”. Importantly, for the first time Moldova was mentioned in a separate article of the Istanbul Communiqué at the most robust rounds of NATO and EU enlargement (May, 2004): “We remain committed to partnership with the Republic of Moldova and encourage it to make use of Partnership instruments to take forward its aspirations of promoting stability in the region as Partner of this Alliance.”1 It was followed by other important acts and documents of the EU – Republic of Moldova cooperation, such as Action Plan (2005) in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and establishment of EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) – one of the best and the most efficient reform in the field of border management.2 This type of international approach to almost two decades “frozen” conflict is a good thing and may inspire some hope.
The so-called “frozen” conflicts in the Newly Independent States (NIS) - echoes of the dissolution of the USSR, has emerged as a central issue in the political debates and struggle for consolidation of independence and statehood of the countries directly involved: Moldova (Transnistria), Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Armenia and Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh). The unsettled, uncertain situations that still persist in the conflict areas are a serious challenge for human rights, democratic institutions, and civil society - all key elements of the broad definition of security introduced in the OSCE’s ongoing Helsinki process. The existing status quo of “no peace, no war” permits the consolidation of the separatist regimes, encouraging their transformation into effectively independent state-like structures, de-facto states. At the same time this stalemate undermines sovereignty and territorial integrity of the legitimate states; obstructs their political, social and economic development; and maintains a source of tension in their societies, as well as in the respective regions.

The separatist regimes, particularly in the case of Transnistria, are beyond any national and international control and benefit from criminal activities: money laundering; contraband; and illicit trafficking of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and weapons. Firearms, rocket launchers, and mortars manufactured in Transnistria were found in other conflict zones, falling into the hands of criminal and terrorist groups. The negative impact of this threat to the international community and global security might be compared with that of terrorism, and therefore it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the sources, political economy and mechanisms for resolution of these conflicts.3

In this situation the importance of international institutions, such as the United Nations, European Parliament and other EU bodies, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities, in conflict negotiations and post-conflict reconciliation is unquestionable. But these mechanisms do not work automatically. It is also obvious that sometimes international bodies confer a certain degree of legitimacy to the separatists, accepting them as partners in the process of negotiations. Are there workable solutions that avoid the legitimization of separatism with all the attendant negative consequences under the umbrella of the international institutions?


The importance and new value of the proposed manuscript derive from its purposes that consist of the identification of a) the political, economic and historical roots of these conflicts, b) effective mechanisms for their resolution and c) the role and limitations of external factors, such as the EU, OSCE, the UN and, especially, Russian-American cooperation, in promotion of peaceful solutions. The Russian-American Summit statements about the necessity to “join efforts” to urge the resolution of conflicts in the framework of independent, territorially integral states (in case of Transnistria, the Moldovan state) introduced a note of optimism, but it did not eliminate the existing concerns and yet produced no visible results.
The significance and originality of the manuscript reside in the combined historical and theoretical approach and practical orientation of the research, based on the author’s experience as a member of the consultant team of Mikhail Gorbachev, the President of the Soviet Union (1987-1991), as Adviser and Deputy Chief of Cabinet to Mircea Snegur, First President of the Republic of Moldova (1992-1994), and as a member of the Moldovan government with service as Minister of Privatization (1994-1997), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador of Moldova to the U.S. (1998-2002).
The manuscript is focused on the roles of the foreign (Russian) military presence in the conflict areas, international organizations, mediator states, special (American) negotiators for these conflicts, national/international mechanisms for negotiations, and peacekeeping forces. Six years ago, on September 25, 2001, the United States Helsinki Commission held a hearing on the subject “Moldova: Are the Russian Troops Really Leaving?” (The author of this project, the then Ambassador of Moldova to the USA, was among the initiators and participants in this event.) The hearing reconfirmed American interest in the destruction or removal of Russian materiel and troops by the deadline specified by in the OSCE Declaration. At the same time concern was expressed that “the status of Trans-Dnestria within the sovereign nation of Moldova is still very unclear.” The following evolutions did not add too much clarification on status and prospects for conflict resolution in spite of efforts made by Moldovan government, particularly, the Law on Transnistria settlement adopted by Moldovan Parliament in July 2005, and those of International organizations. Addressing these issues today is not only important for the independence and territorial integrity of involved states, but also for security and stability in Europe, for the credibility of the OSCE as a whole as represented by the 55 heads of state that signed the Istanbul Declaration. The practical implications of the manuscript are clear, therefore.
One of the most important aims of the proposed manuscript is to raise the level of public understanding in Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, as well as in the USA, about the role of outside support (e.g., the U.S. Government, international organizations, and scholarly institutions such as the US Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center) in effective promotion of crisis resolution. Political and financial support provided to these countries by the Congress and the U.S. administration first of all through the Freedom Support Act, Millennium Challenge Corporation, should not be viewed as a simple charitable act or as inefficiently used (wasted) money of taxpayers. As the 9/11 terrorist attacks against United States harshly demonstrated, the cost of peace and security is very high, and should be paid to eliminate/reduce the sources of terrorism and promote authentic democratic values and reforms in the Newly Independent States (NIS), preventing the growth of authoritarianism and the reestablishment of the old rule under pressure of unsolved problems of separatism and economic and social hardships. The U.S. and the international community’s assistance in management of crisis situations and post-conflict reconciliation in such sensitive areas as Transnistria, Abkhazia South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh is a sine qua non condition for successful conflict resolution. This is an important practical aspect of the author’s investigation, and it is consistent with his previous experience and with the USIP approach to develop policy-relevant assessments of the mechanisms and the “costs and benefits” of international conflict management.
The main thesis of the manuscript is: successful and durable resolutions of the conflicts in the ex-Soviet area can be assured only within the process of consolidation of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the respective countries on the basis of democratic principles, respect for human and national minority rights, freedom of expression, private property, the rule of law; and the reforming and strengthening of national statehood.

Support from outside (international community, including governmental and non-governmental organizations and assistance programs in various fields) is of critical importance to success, especially in the elaboration of a conflict resolution strategy and the initial stage of its implementation. But in long perspective the peace building, reconciliation process will be efficient and durable only if it is self-sustainable. The question is how to ensure such sustainability, how to reintegrate the separatist regions into internationally recognized states without sacrificing their national identity, without prejudicing performance and prospects for democratic development and European integration.


Comparative analysis is used as a method to investigate the origins and development of these conflicts and the role of political elites as factors facilitating solutions or, vice versa, impeding this process. Comparison of the divers concepts, strategies and practical approaches to peacemaking in Transnistria, Abkhazia South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh permit identification of their advantages and disadvantages in each case, assessment of the viability and effectiveness of existing mechanisms for negotiation of the status of these territories in the framework of their respective states, and evaluation of the risks of autonomization and federalization as possible outcomes. The parallel analyses of the development of three major conflicts in the post-Soviet area are based on the assumptions that there are some similarities between them even if these conflicts are not similar from their political and economic roots, ethno genesis, historical and cultural background, and prospects for solutions. The manuscript is analyzing also the differences between these conflicts that are no less important than their similarities.
Evidence of limiting factors and policy options drawn from hearings in the Congress and Helsinki Commission of the United States; seminars, round tables, conferences at the USIP, Woodrow Wilson Institutive for International Scholars, National Endowment for Democracy and other scholarly institutions; interviews with American, Moldovan and international decision-makers and experts in conflict resolution; and archives investigation has been used to elaborate the conclusions and recommendations of the study.4

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