On March 5, 2013, the pro-Western government coalition in Moldova collapsed, compounding the significant difficulties already facing the settlement of the conflict over the separatist region of Transnistria, one of the so-called frozen conflicts dating back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Moldova’s current political crisis further diminishes the opportunities to revive the positive momentum that clearly existed after fall 2011, when official talks between the conflicting parties resumed through a multilateral settlement process.
This momentum had been triggered by the so-called Meseberg memorandum (.pdf) of June 2010, in which Germany’s Angela Merkel and Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev pledged in principle to work toward a joint European Union-Russian resolution of the Transnistria conflict; political changes within Moldova and Transnistria had also pushed the process forward. The momentum continued, albeit at a slower pace, through late last year amid a degree of high-level interest in the conflict not seen over the past decade. On Nov. 29, 2012, the European Parliament published a report on the conflict on the same day that the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, began a two-day visit to Moldova, during which he praised the country’s commitment to EU integration.
That day also saw a meeting in Dublin of the participants of the so-called 5+2 talks on the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict -- Moldova and Transnistria, as the parties to the conflict; Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as mediators and guarantors; and the EU and U.S. as observers. The event marked the first anniversary of the formal resumption of negotiations as well as the conclusion of the Irish OSCE chairmanship’s engagement in the negotiations.