luni, 30 septembrie 2013

A solution for the Transnistrian conflict: an exchange of territories between Ukraine and Moldova

The origin of the Transnistrian conflict, which turned into a war in 1992, is within the border marked in 1940, as a result of which the Southern and Northern Bessarabia (also Hertsa district, and North Bukovina Moldovan-Romanian villages from the districts Storojinets and Adâncata – that for centuries belonged to the Principality of Moldova) were granted by the leadership from Moscow to Ukraine, and Moldova in return was given a strip on the left bank of the Dniester river. It is true that on the territory, across the Dniester, have been and are more villages inhabited by Moldovans, but after the exchange of territories, in composition of the SSMR entered also localities inhabited by Ukrainian population, as beyond the Moldovan – Ukrainian border, on the left bank of Dniester, remained Moldovan villages: Handrabura, Dolinskoe (Valea Hotsului), Tocileva etc. in Odesa region. A correction of borders at this stage, between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, after which most of the localities populated by Moldovans over the Dniester (the so-called Nistrian Moldovan Republic) would return under the jurisdiction of Chisinau, and those inhabited by Ukrainians, as well as the localities where ethnic Russians are numerous, but which are oriented (geographically and economically turned) mostly to Odessa (as the town of Tiraspol) would be returned to Ukraine, and in exchange of this territory, Ukraine would return the area with exactly the same size of land with localities inhabited by population identifying themselves as Moldovans (the districts Noua Suliţă, Reni) or Romanians (districts of Herţa, Adâncata and Storojinets) would be a sustainable solution. Following the implementation of this idea, there would disappear the state of uncertainty and tension of the Gagauz autonomy, whose leaders have declared repeatedly that they expect the federalization of the RM and acceptance of the autonomous territorial unit as an entity in the new Moldovan state formula.

There are several precedents in the history of international law, which allow us to say that this scenario is feasible. Besides the recent exchange (1999) of territories between the RM and Ukraine (Giurgiulești – Palanca), there are cases known after the World War I, when Romania exchanged territories with Czechoslovakia (in the Maramuresh region) and with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (in the Banat region).

Regarding the establishment of the Romanian-Czechoslovak border, “on April 1, 1920 by approaches sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Ministry of War, Czechoslovakia's representative in Romania renewed on behalf of the government the request for evacuation of Romanian troops from the northern territory of the Tisza, informing at the same time Romania about the availability of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate with the Romanian State the border rectification that would be established by a Czechoslovak-Romanian Joint Committee. Therefore, the Czechoslovak Legation in Romania was informed on April 18, 1920 by the Romanian government's decision to withdraw the troops, the Minister Cernak being asked to communicate the name of the Czechoslovak military delegate responsibility to regulate with the Great Romanian General Headquarters the issues relating to withdrawal of Romanian troops. This way entered into force the provisions of the Peace Treaty with Austria providing that the Ruthenians autonomous territory of Sub Carpathian area to be incorporated into Czechoslovakia, Romania consented to provisions that by signing it. On the other hand, there was emphasize the availability of the Romanian state to start negotiations with the Czechoslovak state aimed at obtaining a better borders for Romania, interested to integrate the territories from the south of the Tisza in the process of unification of the entire national territory, the fact which under the respective geographical conditions required the obtaining of access ways to the territories. By signing the Treaty of Trianon (June 4, 1920) it was reconfirmed on the international level the appurtenance of Maramuresh from the north of the Tisza to Czechoslovakia“.

During the World War I, Serbia and Romania (created in 1859 through the unification between Moldova and Wallachia) have agreed to share the historical Banat, in the event of victory over Germany and Austria-Hungary, on the principle of one third for Serbia and two thirds of Romania (with exchange of minorities between the two countries). The border that cut Banat in two parts was drawn at the end of 1918 by an international commission chaired by French geographer Emmanuel de Martonne and confirmed by the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, leaving a small part of Banat to Hungary (near the city of Szeged), one third to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and two thirds to Romania. On November 24, 1923, Romania and Serbia signed at Belgrade a protocol for a rectification of the border. Romania gave to Yugoslavia villages Meda (Međa, Párdány) Modos (Jaša Tomic) Surian (Surján) Captalan (Busenje) Crivobara (Markovićevo) and Gaiu Mare (Veliki Gaj, Nagy Gaj), while the Kingdom of Yugoslavia gave to Romania the villages Beba Veche (Stara Beba, Óbéba) Cherestur (Krstur, Pusztakeresztúr) Ciortea (Csorda) and Iam (Jam), and the city Jimbolia (Žombolj, Zsombolya). The effective rectification took place on April 10, 1924.

It is worth mentioning that now there are more cases of regions populated by ethnic minorities, where the solution of an exchange of territories can not be applied. For example, South Tyrol region, with Austrian-German population, located in Italy, can not be returned to Austria because that country can not offer in exchange a region of the same area, populated by Italians, in Austria. Aland Islands inhabited by Swedes in Finland, can not be exchanged with an area of he same size, populated by Finns, in Sweden.

So in conclusion can be said:

1. A fair exchange of territories between Ukraine and Moldova – for repair, even partial, of the crime committed by the Moscow occupation in 1940 against Ukrainian and Moldovan people – is in the spirit of European international practice and can lead to the final settlement of the conflict in the Nistrian region of the RM. Also,

2. It is necessary to recognize internationally the status of Russian occupation area of Nistria, as after World War II Germany was divided into four occupation areas recognized internationally: American, British, French and Russian. The four areas were abolished by the withdrawal of administration and military forces of the four victorious states in the World War II. Nistrian region of Moldova is a remnant of the military occupation of Russia, established in 1940, respectively 1944, where Moscow maintains military troops and a regime of occupation (an administration, border control authorities, which has been imposed arbitrarily, with the free part of Moldova. There arrive new and new people from Russia, to work in these institutions, as the local population is unable to cope with a large number of border posts, customs, immigration service employees, militia men, military men, security service employees, etc.). Also, students of Russian schools which train specialists for special services in that country perform their practice in the Russian occupation area from the territory of the RM. 

3. On its European path RM should not depend on the unsolved Nistrian conflict. The Eastern real border should be secured in such way not to challenge the RM adherence to the EU. Whatever we call the regime from Tiraspol – occupation or (neo) colonial – the fact is that Russia should participate in negotiations as a part of the conflict and not as a mediator – as it is today. Because of the confusion regarding the essence and the protagonists of the conflict, it was possible the admission of negotiations format that does not match the reality on the field, and which impedes the conflict resolution. Of course, the negotiations are necessary to find a solution. But the 5+2 format (Moldova and Nistria – parties to the conflict, Russia, Ukraine and OSCE - mediators, EU and U.S. – observers) do not correspond to reality on the field. Since it is part of the conflict, recognized by a decision of European Court for Human Rights Defending, Russia can not be a mediator and the more, it can not be a guarantor of the conflict resolution. 

[This article was written for] 

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