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Written by Коробов Владимир Кузьмич    Hits: 9353
Sunday, 09 December 2012 17:38
Korobov i Bjanov s knigoj MOLDOVA

Chapter Fifteen

Ukraine: Inconsistent Policy toward Moldova

Vladimir Korobov and Georgiy Byanov

Ukraine underestimates the significance of its policy toward Moldova. The postSoviet diplomacy of Ukraine has been affected by the same stereotypes of its past. Diplomats of the Soviet school, by force of inertia, consider relations with the United States, China, the European Union and Russia as the most important area of their activities. In the yearbook External policy of Ukraine: Strategic estimates, forecasts and priorities there is not a single mention of Ukraine's relations with Moldova.1 At the same time, it is impossible to overestimate the significance of Moldova for Ukraine, as it is a natural ally in preventing latent Romanian threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity. Ukraine's policy toward

Moldova is distinguished by its inconsistency on Moldova's split. On the one hand, Ukraine supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Moldova; on the other hand, it has a special relationship with Transnistria, which territory historically belonged to Ukraine. More than 160,000 Ukrainians live in Transnistria, which makes up 28.8 percent of the population of this nonrecognized republic.2 By different estimates, from 70,000 to 100,000 Transnistrian inhabitants have Ukrainian citizenship and Ukrainian passports. Ukraine is party to the negotiations settlement of the Transnistrian conflict.

Incomplete, Emerging Policy

Ukraine's policy toward Moldova is marked by incompleteness and dynamism. After the Soviet Union's collapse, the newly independent states virtually had to shape their relations "from scratch." In the past, under the Soviet Union, there used to be relations between the Soviet republics that had a somewhat superficial, cultural and educational nature. During the Friendship Days of the Republics, exchanges of delegations took place, and agreements of a declaratory nature were signed. These economic and political activities were defined by the Kremlin in a non-federal but unitary state style, the basis of which was the Communist Party-a "state within the state."


After obtaining independence, Ukraine encountered the challenging goal of shaping its own foreign policy and its own diplomacy. Yet for a rather long time, Kiev would "go astray," falling back into Soviet stereotypes in the course of its relations with the neighboring former Soviet republics. The basis of foreign policy toward Moldova was nominally formed in the 1990s; but even nowadays, this policy is incomplete and conceptually insufficient.

Four stages can be outlined in foreign policy relations between Ukraine and Moldova, each of which is characterized by a different level of formation, comprehensiveness and other particular features. The first stage, from 1992-1996, was the birth of Ukraine's foreign policy toward Moldova. The second stage, from 1997-2004, was a period of shaping Moldovan policy and intensifying Ukraine's engagement in the area. The third stage, from 2005-2008, was a time of sustained effort to solve issues of conflict with Moldova. The fourth stage, from 2009-2011, has been a period of "reset" in Ukrainian-Moldovan relations.

The Genesis of Moldovan Policy in Ukraine

Independent Ukraine needed to shape the basic principles of its foreign policy at the beginning of the 1990s. This task emerged at the center of Ukraine's policy toward Moldova in 1992-1996. The period was characterized by inertia of Soviet politics, as well as elements of spontaneous reaction and chaotic motion in foreign policy.

A number of accomplishments were achieved during this time: In March 1992, the newly independent Ukraine and Republic of Moldova set up diplomatic relations; in October 1992 in Chisinau, the two nations signed the Treaty on Good-Neighborhood, Friendship and Cooperation, based on the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of borders. In 1993, Ukraine and Moldova signed the Agreement on International Road

Transports (ratified only in 1999 in Moldova, and in 2000 in Ukraine). The Agreement on Mutual Recognition and Regulation of Relations on Property was also signed in 1994. The distinctive feature of these agreements was the fact that contracts were signed but not ratified and, actually, not executed by both parties.

By the end of the first stage, in January 1995 an agreement was achieved establishing a Joint Commission on Economic and Commercial Cooperation. The result of this commission's work was the Agreement of August 1995 on Free Trade.

The first period of relations between the nations was hampered by the 1992 war and the split of Moldova into two states-the sovereign Republic of Moldova and the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Ukraine responded to those events ambiguously. On one hand, it was thought that Ukrainian citizens were involved in the armed struggle on the Transnistrian side. They were mostly supporters of the radical party Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defence (UNA-UNSO) aimed at the protection of national interests and use of nationalist ideology. On the other hand, the Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and the government of Ukraine came up with a demand to stop the fighting, which led to a mass influx of refugees into Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian government's statement read, "We call on the conflicting parties to create the right conditions for refugees to return to their homes; and reserve our right to claim expenses related to the refugees' stay."3 Moreover, Ukraine had to take emergency measures to prevent the spread of hostilities and armed persons from Transnistria and Moldova into the territory of Ukraine. The borders that used to be transparent were blocked on the Ukrainian side by border and security forces.

The "Transnistrian factor" affected the nature and development of Ukrainian-Moldovan relations from their very beginning. As early as 1991, Ukraine pursued inconsistent policies toward Moldova.

On one hand, Kiev secretly negotiated with representatives of Transnistria, including on the possibility of Transnistria merging into Ukraine in light of historical circumstances. This was confirmed by the analyst and former Ukrainian presidential administration worker Dmytro Vydrin.4 Those talks were possible due to a negative attitude between Chisinau and Kiev elite resulting from the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Under its provisions, Bessarabia was detached from Romania and incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. The core of Bessarabia was merged with a part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which up to then had belonged to the Ukrainian SSR, into the Moldavian SSR. The remaining northern part (known as Northern Bukovina) and the southern parts of Bessarabia were incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR. In 1991, the Moldavian Parliament denounced the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It created international legal precedents for returning to the status quo of 1939: Moldova's entry into Romania, and Transnistria's return to Ukraine. Also, some unverified sources report that even the option of exchanging Transnistria for Southern Bessarabia was considered.

However, the aforementioned negotiations did not result in any actual geopolitical changes. Kiev leaders did not have the determination to take such a bold step that might cause unpredictable consequences. Vydrin writes the following about those negotiations:

In 1992, I worked at Administration of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and met head of Transnistria [Igor] Smirnov. He asked me to hand over a letter to Kravchuk, where he suggested Kiev start the procedure of Transnistria joining Ukraine, using a parliamentary mechanism. The Transnistrian parliament was at that time, and it is still, one of most civilized parliaments: All debates and documents are available in three languages-Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldavian. Smirnov's idea did not seem too practical to me: but the political lava was still hot in 1992, borders might be changed. Of course, there were some illusions that Transnistria might be reverted to the past, but if Kravchuk had supported the idea and the parliament had followed him, finding a joining procedure, we would have such a headache. From my point of view, Kravchuk was so frightened of the letter; it has been quietly lying somewhere ever since. The Ukrainian president did not respond to Smirnov's initiative. Perhaps it is time to return to it? No. The hot lava has already hardened. And there are no hammerers to destroy it. There was such a chance in 1992.5

On the other hand, on August 29, 1991, Smirnov was arrested during his visit to Kiev by the Moldovan police, who brought him to Chisinau, where he was imprisoned.6

The duality of Ukrainian policy remained up to 2010. It manifests itself in a controversial foreign policy position: Ukraine would like to collaborate with Moldova-Ukraine's geopolitical resources have been repeatedly employed to place economic pressure on Transnistria; at the same time, Kiev continuously offers certain support to Transnistrians and the Ukrainian citizens residing in Transnistria. In the past decade, this has mostly taken the form of humanitarian and educational assistance. As for the economy, Ukraine and Transnistria's cooperation has been developing in an inter-regional context. In particular, some agreements on socio-economic, educational and cultural cooperation were made between Transnistria and a number of regions (Odessa, Kherson, Vinnytsya, Ternopil'). The contacts have been based on traditional economic as well as centuries-old historical and cultural ties, since for more than a hundred years, from 1806 to 1920, the left bank of the Dniester River with its center in Tiraspol was an uyezd of the Kherson Guberniya.

In the Soviet period, many members of the Transnistrian economic elite, for example, Igor Smirnov (town Hola Prystan, city Kakhovka of the Kherson region) were biographically tied to the southern regions of Ukraine.

In the second half of the 1990s and at the beginning of the 2000s, when the "iron curtain" at the Transnistrian sector of the Ukrainian-Moldovan frontier had not descended very low, and the mythology of black PR had not reached its devastating centrifugal effect, there was a frequent exchange of official delegations. An agreement between the Kherson region and Transnistria was signed in September 2000 as a result of the Kherson region state administration's visit to Tiraspol. That visit was not covered much by the press, apparently due to political reasons. Today a similar political underground seems impossible.

From 2001 to 2010, when the relations between Moldova and Transnistria fluctuated from escalation to stagnation, these kinds of contacts were rendered null. Ukraine collaborated with Transnistria turning constantly back to Moldova and it tried to cooperate with Moldova following its own interests in Transnistria and European integration.

Two opposite poles of political tension affected and continue to shape the dual nature of Ukraine's foreign policy toward Moldova: historically and mentally close Transnistrian, on the one hand, and pro-European Moldova on the other.

Laying the Foundation of Ukraine's Moldovan Policy

The second stage of Ukraine's foreign policy toward Moldova refers to 1997- 2004. During this period, the basis for the policy was actually formed, and Ukraine increased its activities in Moldova.

In January 1997, the previously mentioned Treaty on Good-Neighborhood, Friendship and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova came into force. That agreement contributed to the solution of the border argument and settlement of property issues, and it intensified foreign economic relations.7

On October 10, 1997, in Strasbourg, at the summit of the Council of Europe, a new international organization, GUAM, was founded, consisting of four countries: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova.8 The aim of this newly founded structure was its members' cooperation in strengthening stability and security in Europe, based on principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of state borders, democracy, superiority of law and respect for human rights.9 Unfortunately, the effort of setting up bilateral relations between Ukraine and Moldova within that structure turned out to be unsuccessful from its very start and has not yet led to positive results.

In 1998, with the assistance of the European Union, the European regions Upper Prut and Lower Danube were set up. Creation of those European regions was aimed at substantial improvement of relations between the countries in the region and intensifying cross-border collaboration. Unfortunately, the effect of the European regions failed to become as strong as had been expected.

In 1999 Moldova and Ukraine signed the Treaty on the State Border that was ratified by Moldova only in the year 2001, while Ukraine ratified it immediately in the same year, 1999. But actually, this agreement with regard to controversial issues got executed only in the year 2011.

Regarding the Transnistrian issue, Ukraine obtained a full mediator status in the Transnistria conflict settlement of 1997. This was followed by the signing of the Moscow (or Primakov) Memorandum, which is one of the fundamental documents of the negotiation process. This became possible due to strengthening of Ukrainian-Russian relations (in 1997 a friendship treaty with Russia was signed, and the deployment issues of the Russian Black Sea Fleet were settled).

In the Moscow Memorandum, Ukraine guaranteed it would ensure freedom in foreign economic activities to the regional actors, and support the principle of settling the arguments between Moldova and Transnistria through negotiations.

But again Ukraine revealed contradiction and duality in its policy. In 2001 at Moldova's request, Ukraine did not let Transnistrian merchandise across its borders that was not certified by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova and cleared by Moldovan Customs. Transnistria qualified those actions as sanctions aimed against Transnistria ("economic blockade").

And yet, Ukraine resumed passing some goods without being certified and cleared in Moldova. Those goods did not have certificates of their country of origin, which led to an increase in their cost.

Unsuccessful Attempts

The third stage of Ukraine's foreign policy toward Moldova covered 2005-

2008. This period is characterized by Ukraine's attempts to prove itself as a regional leader by enhancing the mechanisms of GUAM to contribute to the solution of the Transnistrian conflict on the basis of a plan proposed by Ukraine to settle contentious issues of property and borders.

In 2005 Ukraine initiated the GUAM summit in Chisinau aimed at giving a new impetus to the international organization. The headquarters of the organization were moved to Kiev; at the summit "Yushchenko's plan-7 steps" was presented to settle the Transnistrian conflict by running free, democratic elections to the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet under international community monitoring (a full version was presented during a negotiation meeting in Vinnytsya in May 2005). Moldova actually terminated the prospect of implementing that initiative by passing the Law on Basic Principles of the Special Legal Status of the Settlements on the Left Bank of the Dniester (Transnistria). Moldova showed reluctance to make use of the mediators' assistance in the conflict settlement, leaving it completely up to the Moldovan authorities to solve it; however, under the law, elections to the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet should be organized and monitored by the international community. In fact, it was a negative response to Ukrainian initiatives. Up to the end of the year 2005, the inertia of implementing the "Yushchenko plan" and the GUAM mechanisms continued.

On December 2, 2005, a "Community of Democratic Choice," was created in Kiev in the framework of GUAM; the organization included the commonwealth of democracies of the Baltic-Black Sea-Caspian region. The initiators of the new organization creation were Ukraine and Georgia, the countries that had experienced colorful revolutions. It was an attempt to form an alternative to the Commonwealth of Independent States with its center located in Kiev. Except for the proclamation, no further actions came of the initiative. But an important factor in Ukrainian-Moldovan relations was that the declaration adopted at the founding forum of the Community stated the member countries seek to join Europe without any "frozen conflicts."10

In 2005, elections to the Transnistrian parliament took place and were won by the Obnovleniye party. In addition to the hope for the prospect of democratization of the Transnistrian regime, the new parliament and elite happened to be more "pro-Ukrainian" than its predecessors.11 This factor contributed to the improvement of the Ukrainian-Transnistrian relations and to the complication of the Ukrainian-Moldovan ties.

A characteristic feature of the third stage was the strengthening of European influence on Ukrainian-Moldovan relations. On November 30, 2005, the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine was established; it started to operate also on the Transnistrian part of the Ukrainian-Moldovan border. The aim of the mission is the monitoring of borders to detect possible smuggling, drug and arms trafficking, and to identify "gray patterns" of illegal trade. The results of the mission work were positively evaluated both by Ukraine and Moldova. Even Transnistria reacted positively to the fact that the mission had assisted in ending the "black hole" stereotype with regard to Transnistria, which stayed outside the current international legislation. In the opinion of the Ukrainian ambassador in Moldova, Serhiy Pyrozhkov:

Due to EUBAM, two major problems have been solved. First, EUBAM confirmed that there was no so-called "black hole" on the border between our countries, which had negatively affected the image of our countries in the EU. Second, an active dialogue was launched between border and customs services of Moldova and Ukraine. Also, thanks to EUBAM, efforts in the process of demarcation of the borders was restored.12

In March 2006, Ukraine, in accordance with an agreement with Moldova, introduced a new procedure letting goods across the border of Ukraine and Moldova (Transnistrian section). The nature of the decision was to have Transnistrian ventures register in Chisinau for receiving a document package required for foreign economic activities. Transnistrian enterprises had to get a permit for export from Moldovan customs. That agreement was the foreign policy equivalent of an advance from Ukraine based on expected returns of concessions from Moldova in the solution of border issues.

"Reset" of Ukraine and Moldova Relations

The fourth and final stage was from 2008-2011. It was a phase of "reset" of Ukrainian-Moldovan relations. A favorable internal political situation developed both in Moldova and Ukraine that facilitated this "reset."

As a result of the victory in the early-2010 presidential elections, the head of the Party of Regions, Viktor Yanukovych, came to power. Both President Yanukovych and representatives of the governing party repeatedly stated their firm desire to radically improve Ukrainian-Moldovan relations. In Moldova, the Alliance for European Integration came to power in mid-2009, also declaring guidelines for improving the relations of the two countries.

By the time of Yanukovych's presidency, the expert community of Ukraine had developed the idea of an urgent need for immediate changes in policy toward Moldova. In 2009, a round-table conference was held in Kiev under the distinctive title "What do we have to do with Moldova?" A participant of the event, Kiev analyst Yuriy Romanenko rather definitively articulated the common attitude:

Ukraine has already reached the point at which it has to identify priorities in foreign policy, as there appears a range of new and a range of old, but sharpened challenges that cannot be ignored any longer. In particular, Ukraine ought to determine a fresh approach in its interaction with Moldova. As it is obvious, that southern-western direction is the most critical part of Ukraine's foreign policy in regards to vulnerability of national interests.13

The fast-changing situation inside Moldova, in particular the events on April 7, 2009, in Chisinau (disorder in the streets of Chisinau; the crowd was protesting against the ruling regime and accusing it of election fraud) proved that "a new political reality" had started to develop in Moldova, and it just confirmed the urge in Kiev to update policy toward Moldova.

In the opinion of well-known Ukrainian analyst Vitaliy Kulyk, UkrainianMoldovan relations by 2009 were in "inertial and critical condition." Those relations were characterized by an abundance of unsolved problems and diverse

"areas of pain."14

Experts and diplomats consider Ukraine made unilateral concessions to Moldova without obtaining anything in response. Those concessions, primarily, related to the Transnistrian issue. Ukraine agreed to limit the activities of Transnistrian economic agents; introduced restrictions on food supplies from Transnistria; and undertook other measures that negatively affected Transnistria's livelihood and economy. That policy of Ukraine was defined not so much by Ukrainian-Moldovan relations, as by "assistance of the European Union policy toward the Transnistria settlement and relations with Moldova."15

Moldova considered relations with Ukraine since 1992 mostly within the context of the Transnistrian problem. Indeed, the Transnistrian problem is the major issue, the main "area of pain" of Ukrainian-Moldovan relations. One of the most significant sources of Transnistria's sustainability is its multilateral relations with Ukraine and its southern regions; especially the Odessa Sea Port. The common Transnistrian section of the Ukrainian-Moldovan border has become a crucial factor of survival for the non-recognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. But this interpretation of the situation is avoided in Ukraine. The Transnistrian issue seems to be considered outside Ukrainian-Moldovan relations, within a geopolitical context of relations with the US, EU, Russia and other participants of the Transnistrian settlement.

In 2009, the major problems of the Ukrainian-Moldovan relations were enumerated: 1) the "Palanca problem"-for more than 10 years, Ukraine did not receive an allotment near the village Palanca in exchange for a plot of land near the village Giurgiuleşti on the Danube. The matter has vexed Ukraine since; against its economic interests, it had assisted Moldova in becoming a sea power by extending it a coast plot of land to set up Giurgiuleşti Sea Port; 2) the issue of ownership concerning the Dniester Pumped Storage Power Station; 3) Moldova's refusal to execute demarcation of the borders, which has caused the disagreement of Ukraine on a number of territorial issues.16

A specific matter in the policy of Ukraine towards Moldova and Transnistria is consideration of population residing in this area. As of the data of the year 2004, 159,000 Ukrainians17 live in Transnistria; more than 282,000 Ukrainians live in Moldova.18 By the estimates of experts, up to 100,000 citizens of Ukraine reside in Transnistria. Moreover, this population has never left Ukraine for Moldova, but is factually the indigenous population. The people appeared in Transnistria due to a number of geopolitical, territorial and administrative changes; at first, the Moldavian Socialist Republic was created in 1924 as an autonomy within the Soviet Ukraine and included Ukrainian territories along with the local population dwelling there. In its foreign policy Ukraine takes into account the need to protect the rights of Ukrainian diaspora in Moldova and requires the same from Moldova and Transnistria. Also, in the opinion of Kulyk, the status of the Ukrainian minority in Moldova might have been increased; following Transnistria's experience, Moldova could have accepted the use of three languages, approving Moldovan as an official language along with the Ukrainian and Russian languages as well.19

The new Ukrainian administration has demonstrated determination to intensify trade and economic relations with Moldova. The customs boards of the two countries signed a Declaration on Transportation Priority in June 2011 for fruit and vegetable products across customs borders of Ukraine and Moldova. It should be noted that export of fruit and vegetable products is vital for both countries; in Moldova as well as in the south of Ukraine this merchandise is the major export within traditional economic households, common for the entire southern historic Novorossiysk region.20

According to information compiled by the Ukrainian embassy to Moldova, Ukrainian investments in Moldova constitute $15 million. Due to the global financial crisis and the unstable political situation in Moldova, Ukrainian business people have not invested recently in Moldova. By now, 623 enterprises with Ukrainian capital operate in Moldova, including 190 that are 100 percent financed by Ukrainian capital. They are typically small and mediumsized enterprises. Ukrainian business people are interested in setting up joint ventures, as since March 1, 2008, Moldova has had EU trade preferences. Ukrainian investments in Moldova are promising in the economic development of relations for both countries.21

Trade and economic relations of Ukraine and Moldova are characterized by stable, positive and dynamic merchandise turnover. Ukraine keeps a leading position in the external trade of Moldova. According to the data of the Moldovan National Bureau of Statistics, as seen in table 15.1, volumes of export to Ukraine and import from Ukraine keep intensively growing. In Ukrainian exports to Moldova, fuel and grocery products are dominating groups.

One positive note that may favorably affect further development of bilateral dialogue on economic issues is the agreement on renewal of the operation of the intergovernmental Ukrainian-Moldovan Commission on Economic and Commercial Cooperation, which acts as a coordinating mechanism for the development of bilateral economic relations.

Table 15.1. Moldova's trade with Ukraine in 1997-2010 (in mil. USD)


Export to Ukraine

Import from Ukraine











































Source: National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova, "External trade," (accessed August 10, 2011).

Ukrainian contribution into the development of Ukrainian-Moldovan relations and in the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict may appear successful if the priority is given to efficient trade and economic relations between the countries. Experts have promoted the idea of establishing the Odessa Macroeconomic Region. The speech is about establishing a new quantity: a macro-region, naturally including practical cross-border cooperation: Moldova, Transnistria, Gagauzia and the Ukrainian Black Sea area. Interest in the formation of a single market, common communications, and a common style and way of life, to merge interests and cultures has long been going on here; the time has come to realize and recognize this process.22

The "Palanca" Case

Further development of Ukrainian-Moldovan relations is impossible without resolving the issue of the borders. The peculiarity of Moldova, in the author's opinion, is that this state, "recognized de jure by the international community, is de facto a state with limited internal sovereignty. This internal sovereignty is not recognized in a substantial part of its territory. This syndrome of non-recognition affects the condition of its external borders."23

A part of the motorway between two Ukrainian towns, Odessa and Reni, close to the Moldovan village of Palanca of 7.7 km length, in accordance with the Protocol to the Treaty between Ukraine and Moldova on the State Border of August 18, 1999, should have been transferred under the jurisdiction and operation of Ukraine. But this was not done in 1999, and the issue remained unsettled for 12 years, until 2011.

Ukraine increasingly demonstrated its impatience in the contentious matter of the motorway to Palanca. In the evening on November 15, 2010, Ukrainian authorities unilaterally dismantled and removed boundary markers no. 0608 and no. 0609, 120 meters inside Moldova. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declared that "the guards have corrected the mistake made during the demarcation of the border with Moldova."24

The Moldovan authorities demanded on November 17, 2010, that Ukraine explain the unilateral actions of the Ukrainian side. They referred to the treaty between the countries, which stated that "the road section is the property of Ukraine on the territory of the Republic of Moldova." The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration declared "that approach will not favor further pragmatic and constructive dialogue on the demarcation of Moldovan-Ukrainian state border, launched between the countries this year."25

As always in similar cases, the European Union acted as an arbitrator. European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle stated that "the issue of the border between Ukraine and Moldova should be solved through negotiations, rather than unilateral actions on the border." He also said that the European Union is ready "to offer expert assistance for determination of the border between Ukraine and Moldova."26

Odessa Regional Council considered a relevant statement of the deputy Vyacheslav Strashylin and approved an appeal to President Viktor Yanukovych with the request to dissolve the treaty on transfer to Moldova of the land where Giurgiuleşti is located. That decision was voted for by 114 deputies of the Regional Council, while previously only 25 deputies were in favor.27

In April 2011, Ukraine actually brought to Moldova an ultimatum-the demand to solve urgently the issue on "returning to Ukraine its land in the area of Palanca." The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko stated at the plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, "No arguments from Moldova will be accepted by Ukraine any longer." He demanded to run an intergovernmental discussion on the matter right after Moldovan local elections were conducted on June 5, 2011. The minister threatened to end trade and economic relations between the countries.28

Ukraine has previously demonstrated signs of its impatience and placed pressure on Moldova. In 2009, Moldova was included in the list of migration risk countries. In accordance with this document, citizens of Moldova, when crossing the border of Ukraine, had to submit documentary proof confirming their solvency. It was a hard blow against the interests of working migrants, who mattered much to the economy of Moldova. Other methods of pressure on the partner of the negotiations were also expected, but they happened to be unnecessary.

Those measures of influence on Moldova turned out to be effective. Moldova became more amenable, and the Moldovan elite became more manageable at negotiations. It is worth mentioning the contribution of Prime Minister Vlad Filat, whose name is associated with the breakthrough in the relations of the two countries. There appeared reports in the Ukrainian media that the Ukrainian determination could be partially explained by confidential agreements made between Moldovan Prime Minister Filat and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko during Filat's visit to Kiev on February 1, 2010.29 There was much ambiguity about that visit. It was surprising, since the visit was paid on the last days of Tymoshenko's term as prime minister. During the visit, they signed a

Protocol on Changes in Intergovernmental Agreement on Property drafted in 1994. That Protocol recognized the property rights of Ukraine for the Dniester hydroelectric power station. During that visit, Filat promised to solve the "Palanca problem."30

In accordance with Article 10 of the Ukrainian-Moldovan Treaty on the State Border, "Negotiating parties will sign an additional protocol to that Treaty, which is its integral part and regulates the transfer of a section of the motorway Odessa-Reni near Palanca of the Republic of Moldova, as well as the plot of land it runs through to the ownership and operation of Ukraine."31 However, the protocol to the treaty on the transfer of the road near Palanca includes a contradictory provision: "1.2 The land transferred is the property of Ukraine on the territory of the Republic of Moldova," but further states: "6.1 As the land is transferred, jurisdiction of Ukraine is enacted."32

On July 9, 2011, there was a meeting of Ukrainian President Yanukovych and Acting Moldovan President Marian Lupu. That meeting was timed to the birthday of President Yanukovych. The joint statement declared a solution to the Palanca case. The Ukrainian party "noted with satisfaction the final solution of the issue of recognition of Ukraine's property rights for the section of the motorway Odessa-Reni near Palanca, that was confirmed by the corresponding Act of June 30 the same year and by the transfer of the Cadastre statement."33

The solution of the problem caused a storm of criticism in Moldova. In the area of the contentious road there were mass demonstrations by local residents of Moldovan villages against the transfer of land to Ukraine and the change of crossing the contentious road section.

The Moldovan media forwarded the following ideas: 1) there is no agreement about the exchange of land in the corresponding agreement between the countries; 2) Ukraine was transferred the section of the road located on the territory of Moldova and being the ownership of Ukraine on the territory of Moldova; 3) the jurisdiction of Moldova ought to be enacted on this territory rather than Ukraine; 4) local residents will cross the road to get to their land plots and excesses will occur. The conclusion is the following: "The Palanca case is settled, but its issues remain unsolved."34

The ten-year long solution of the "Palanca problem" demonstrated the following characteristic traits of Ukraine's policy toward Moldova: Ukraine does not pay enough attention to clarifying its foreign policy toward Moldova and Transnistria inside the country, to its own citizens. But it also neglects the necessity of external public information in Moldova, explanation of its policy in the Moldovan public arena. This leads to the lack of a legitimate Ukrainian policy toward Moldova, it significantly narrows the chance of positive and constructive interpretations of its policy, and it leads to the preservation of a high level of conflict around contentious issues. It hampers Ukraine in achieving its foreign policy goals.

There is no civil society dialogue between the two countries on contentious issues, and in particular on the Palanca case. Professionalization and securitization of the problem significantly narrows the maneuvering room for Ukraine, it complicates the solution of existing problems, it lowers the level of trust between the countries, and it makes foreign policy toward Moldova both ineffective and inefficient.

Besides this, mechanisms for trans-boundary cooperation are not employed at full capacity. Despite the measures undertaken by both countries, the Ukrainian-Moldovan border is still far from being an ideal "Smart Border" designed to promote the free flow of verified goods and travelers. It is not a space of open and transparent cooperation, but a barrier in the way of such cooperation.35


Two friendly states, Ukraine and Moldova, have yet to overcome the obstacles facing the development of their relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In an interview timed to the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Moldova, the Ukrainian ambassador to Moldova, Serhiy Pyrozhkov, characterized Ukrainian-Moldovan relations and their major problems:

Ukraine is a neighbor to the Republic of Moldova and therefore it is necessary to develop mutually beneficial relations. We do not have political or ethnic differences; what unites us is a common strategy of European integration. The only issues within our relations are the completion of border demarcation and the recognition of property rights for installations built at the time of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, these issues hinder the development of mutual relations and redirect us to the past.36

Unfortunately, it may be concluded, relations between Ukraine and Moldova still do not make use of the potential the two countries share. These relations (political, economic and cultural) do not meet the challenges of the time, the needs of the countries nor the expectations of the people. One of the major problems of Ukraine's policy toward Moldova is duality and inconsistency.

Relations with Moldova are considered in Ukraine in a broader context-in the context of relations with Romania and the European Union. The policy toward relations with Moldova is linked with the problem of Ukraine's border security in the south-west direction. Also, a complication of the issue is caused by latent territorial claims of Romania for Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia. Taking this context into account, Ukraine develops its policy toward the Republic of Moldova, and defines its position in the challenging issue of the Transnistrian conflict settlement. Independent and sovereign Moldova is a natural barrier for Romanian expansionism. Strengthening this obstacle corresponds to the national interests of an independent Ukraine. In Vitaliy Kulyk's opinion, "a strong, independent state of Moldova is needed as a constraint against Romania."37 Romania today is a full member of the European Union. The policy of Ukraine towards Romania and Moldova can be effective in the case of correct coordination of any important decisions and actions in the south-west direction with such a powerful neighbor as the European Union.

The positions of the Moldovan and Transnistrian parties at the negotiations on the Transnistrian conflict settlement are neither flexible nor effective. Those positions hamper the final settlement and the development of a relationship with Ukraine. Moldova, along with the European Union, is trying to exert pressure on Russia and force Transnistria to unconditionally accept the terms proposed by Moldova.

The apparently positive changes in the relationship between the two countries ought to be strengthened. These positive changes are related to the pragmatism of the new foreign policy of Ukraine pursued under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych. At the recent stage of relationship between the two states, Ukraine tends to exert pressure on Moldova. This tactic works, and it brings serious, positive results.

There are no significant differences in the Ukrainian establishment regarding the prospective development of Ukrainian-Moldovan dialogue and collaboration. Ukraine is interested in the existence of a strong and sovereign Moldova and the quickest settlement of the Transnistrian conflict based on the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Moldova. Solution of this issue, in the context of the border problems, is considered as a favorable factor promoting Ukraine to European integration.

In the near future the policy of Kiev in the Moldovan direction will not undergo global changes. The foreign policy of Ukraine regarding probable external and internal changes will develop following pragmatism and strategic interests of the leadership in the region. The previous passive nature of Ukrainian policy in the Moldovan direction will obtain more reactive features to meet current political challenges.

A positive factor that will to a large extent define the future of the Ukrainian-Moldovan relationship is the accumulated fatigue of the Moldovan elite for the destructive consequences of confrontational politics. For two years Moldovan deputies have not been able to elect the president of the country. In this regard, Chisinau is losing motivation to run uncompromising conflict politics and is trying to adopt a more pragmatic approach in establishing bilateral relations.

In the short term, undoubtedly, the duality and inconsistency toward the Transnistrian matter that is typical for Kiev will remain strung between the gravity of historical links to Transnistria and the urgent political requirement of supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. In the next years, Ukraine will balance between these two poles with a more pronounced emphasis on achieving a reasonable resolution to the conflict within a sovereign Moldova.

However, given some of the negative aspects of the negotiation's political heritage, particularly from 2001-2006, possible future attempts by Moldova to persuade Ukraine to accept exclusively Chisinau's vision of the Transnistrian settlement will from now on likely be rebuffed by Ukrainian diplomacy.


1. Hryhoriy Perepelytsya, ed., Zovnishnya polityka Ukrayiny - 2010: stratehichni otsinky, prohnozy ta priorytety [Foreign policy of Ukraine - 2010: Strategic estimates, forecasts and priorities] (Kiev: Stylos, 2011).

2. Pridnestrovskaya Moldavskaya Respublika: Kratkiy spravochnik. Spetsial'nyy vypusk (Tiraspol: Verkhovnyy Sovet Pridnestrov'ya, 2007), 22.

3. Boris Bomeshko, Sozdaniye, stanovleniye i zashchita pridnestrovskoy gosudarstvennosti (1990-1992) (Bendery: Poligrafist, 2010), 415.

4. Dmytro Vydrin, "Ukrainian Foreign Minister is to be held personally accountable for Transdnestr blockade," interview with Regnum, May 3, 2006, http://www.regnum .ru/news/632014.html (accessed August 10, 2011).

5. Ibid.

6. Anna Volkova, Lider (Tiraspol, 2001), (accessed August 10, 2011).

7. Dohovir pro dobrosusidstvo, druzhbu i spivrobitnytstvo mizh Ukrayinoyu ta Respublikoyu Moldova [Treaty on Good-Neighborhood, Friendship and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova], Chisinau, October 23, 1992, http:// (accessed August 7, 2011).

8. This structure was called GUUAM in 1999-2005, when Uzbekistan was its member.

9. GUAM, "Istoriya GUAM," (accessed August 11, 2011).

10. "Sodruzhestvo demokraticheskogo vybora," Geopolitika, http://www.geopolitics .ru/common/organisations/usdc.htm (accessed August 11, 2011).

11. Vladimir Korobov and Georgiy Byanov, "The ‘Renewal' of Transnistria," The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 22, no. 4 (2006): 526.

12. Serhiy Pyrozhkov, "Posle 20 let dvizhemsya vmeste k ES," interview with Adevărul, July 25, 2011, (accessed August 9, 2011).

13. Yuriy Romanenko, "Chto nam delat' s Moldovoy?," (speech, Glavred, Kiev,

April 29, 2009), (accessed August 5, 2011).

14. Vitaliy Kulyk, "Chto nam delat' s Moldovoy?," (speech, Glavred, Kiev, April 29, 2009).

15. Yuriy Romanenko et al., "Chto nam delat' s Moldovoy?," (speech, Glavred, Kiev, April 29, 2009).

16. Ibid.

17. Statisticheskiy yezhegodnik Pridnestrovskoy Moldavskoy Respubliki: 2007 (za

2002-2006 gg.) (Tiraspol: Ministerstvo ekonomiki Pridnestrov'ya, 2006), 29.

18. Natsional'noye Byuro Statistiki Respubliki Moldova, "Postoyannoye naselenie po osnovnym natsional'nostyam 1959-2004 (po dannym perepisey naseleniya)," http:// (accessed August 10, 2011).

19. Kulyk, "Chto nam delat'."

20. "Ukraina i Moldova vveli ‘zelenyy koridor' dlya provoza cherez granitsu plodoovoshchnoy produktsii,", June 5, 2011, /2011/06/05/240844 (accessed August 10, 2011).

21. Pyrozhkov, "Posle 20 let."

22. Vladimir Korobov, "Ukrainskiy vklad v formirovaniye obshchego dnestrovskoprichernomorskogo ekonomicheskogo makroregiona," in Moldova-Pridnestrov'ye: Obshchimi usiliyami - k uspeshnomu budushchemu. Ekonomicheskiye aspekty, ed. Denis Matveev et al. (Chisinau: Cu drag, 2009), 30.

23. Georgiy Byanov, "Pridnestrovskoye uregulirovaniye: Zapadnyy i Vostochnyy vektory kompromissa," in Moldova-Pridnestrov'ye: Obshchimi usiliyami - k uspeshnomu budushchemu. Peregovornyy protsess, ed. Denis Matveev et al. (Chisinau: Cu drag, 2009), 36.

24. "Kiyev zayavlyaet, chto nichego ne zabiral u Moldovy," Zerkalo nedeli, November 17, 2010, (accessed August 10, 2011).

25. "Moldova obvinila Ukrainu v popytke peredvinut' granitsu," Zerkalo nedeli, November 17, 2010, (accessed August 10, 2011).

26. "YeS osudil Ukrainu za samoupravstvo na granitse s Moldovoy," Zerkalo nedeli, November 25, 2010, (accessed August 10, 2011).

27. "Ukraina otberet u Moldovy port na Dunaye?," MIGnews, December 16, 2010, (accessed August 10, 2011).

28. "Ukraina trebuyet ot Moldovy vernut' ey zemlyu," MIGnews, April 22, 2011, (accessed August 10, 2011).

29. "Moldova obvinila Ukrainu."

30. "Ukraina postavila ul'timatum Moldove," MIGnews, May 7, 2011, http:// (accessed August 10, 2011).

31. Dohovir mizh Ukrayinoyu i Respublikoyu Moldova pro derzhavnyy kordon [Treaty between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova on the State Border], Kiev, August 18, 1999, (accessed August 10, 2011).

32. Ibid.

33. Viktor Yanukovych and Marian Lupu, "Sovmestnoye zayavleniye Prezidenta Ukrainy i i.o. Prezidenta Respubliki Moldova," Kiev, July 9, 2011, http://www.president (accessed August 10, 2011).

Ukraine: Inconsistent Policy toward Moldova

34. Konstantin Minayev, " ‘Tochka postavlena...?' Strasti vokrug Palanki," AVA

MD. Informatsionno-analiticheskiy portal, July 19, 2011, /012153-tochka-postavlena-strasti-vokrug-palanki.html (accessed August 10, 2011).

35. By "Smart Border" it is meant the boundary that promotes a free flow of goods and passengers. A sample of such a border is the present boundary between the United States and Canada. The priorities of such a boundary are stated in the Smart Border Declaration and in the Action Plan For Creating a Secure and Smart Border. It provides the most-favored-nation status for trusted travelers and commercial organizations, transfer of commodity control for these organizations from the border area to loading terminals, modernization of cross-border outlets to eliminate congestions at the boundary. To achieve this aim, the programs, similar to American programs on free and secure trade (FAST), may be enacted, which will require certification of importers and carriers as well as registration of drivers, who afterwards might cross the border in a simplified way along designated lanes; or the program NEXUS, which provides for use of ID for permanent residents to make crossing the border easier.

36. Pyrozhkov, "Posle 20 let."

37. Kulyk, "Chto nam delat'."

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