A European Failure? The European Union’s Policy Towards Transnistria

    • EUPE_BRUGES_2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Keith Harrington, NUI Travelling Scholar in Humanities and Social Sciences, Maynooth University, Ireland


    Since its creation in 1992, the Transnistrian region has enjoyed de-facto independence from Moldova. In 2003, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, unilaterally proposed the Kozak Memorandum to Moldovan President, Vladimir Vornion. The memorandum, although having some unsavoury articles for Moldova, represented the best option to date for the resolution of the Transnistrian dispute. However, the Kozak Memorandum was never signed, due to opposition from various EU leaders, which resulted in Putin’s visit to Moldova being cancelled on short notice. As a result, Russia took a hard line towards Moldova and decided that it would support the continued existence of the de-facto state. Despite interfering in the negotiation process, the European Union has failed to offer Moldova a viable alternative. The following paper will argue that the EU can and must become more active in the Transnistrian resolution for several reasons. Firstly, even though the Transnistrian authorities are overtly pro-Russian, the European Union imports more Transnistrian goods than the Russian Federation. As Transnistria’s largest trade partner, the European Union can use economic pressure to influence a settlement between the breakaway region and Moldova. The European Union’s hitherto reluctance to get involved in the negotiation process is also misguided. Since 2014, destabilisation in Ukraine has been a concern for the EU. The annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine brought instability to the continent, the likes not seen in Europe since the Yugoslav wars. The presence of an unrecognised state in Moldova not only potentially further destabilises the region, but it also brings the destabilisation much closer to Europe, given that Moldova borders Romania. Currently the EU holds the position of observer in the negotiations between Transnistria, Moldova, the OSCE and Russia. The paper will demonstrate that the EU can and must become more engaged in the resolution process.