Transnistria, a sliver of land on the east bank of the river Nistru, broke away from the rest of Moldova in 1990. Although there was fighting after that, there have been no fatalities since 1992. This is not really a conflict: it is a stand-off which benefits the business interests of those who are close to ruling elites, and suits some external players.
Transnistria has little prospect of being recognised, even by Russia. Meanwhile Moldova has little hope of eventual EU membership while the Transnistrian problem remains. To escape this stalemate, Moldova and Transnistria need to find a solution. Moldova needs to show Transnistrians that a resolution will be good for them, just as the EU works with Russia to show that a solution does not harm Russia.
This study is timely in that it comes at a moment when Moldova is reaffirming its EU perspective, while elections in Transnistria may also presage some change. The problem of Transnistria is now on the borders of the EU: Transnistria is the EU's problem. A German-EU initiative in 2010 sought to address the Transnistrian issue at a strategic level, engaging the key external player, Russia.
This study brought together focus groups of ordinary people both in Transnistria and in the rest of Moldova. It is the first such study. The focus groups provide non-elite input, important when some in the elite have a personal interest in maintaining the status quo. The focus group perspectives have been reinforced by interviews with politicians and experts in Chisinau, Tiraspol and Berlin. The study is in three sections: a conflict analysis, an examination of the players, and themes from the focus groups. At the end, the report provides detailed policy and programme recommendations to the European Union.
The People’s Peacemaking Perspectives project is a joint initiative implemented by Conciliation Resources and Saferworld and financed under the European Commission’s Instrument for Stability. The project provides European Union institutions with analysis and recommendations based on the opinions and experiences of local people in a range of countries and regions affected by fragility and violent conflict.