Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe – Expert level

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections. It employs around 3,460 people, mostly in its field operations but also in its secretariat in Vienna, Austria, and its institutions. It has its origins in the 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland.

The OSCE is concerned with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation. Its 57 participating countries are located in Europe, northern and central Asia, and North America. The participating states cover much of the land area of the Northern Hemisphere. It was created during the Cold War era as an East-West forum.

Topic: Brokering the peace settlement process of the Transdniestrian Dispute

Transnistria is a small breakaway state located between the Dniester River and Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine. In November 1990, fighting broke out between Russian-backed pro-separatist forces and the Moldovan military. During the fighting 1000 were killed and more than 3000 wounded. The battling went on until an uneasy yet lasting ceasefire was established on July 22, 1992. Most Transnistrians are Russian or Ukrainian mother-tongues, while the bulk of the Moldovan population is Romanian. The ostensible cause of the conflict was the fear would merge with Romania which meant that the Slavic speakers in Transnistria would become a minority in greater Romania. To ass salt to injury, there was a concentration of Russian troops in Transnistria that sided with the rebels and supplied weapons and resources to withstand the central government’s effort to recover the region. Since 1992, a lot of effort has been put into providing a satisfactory alternative to the dispute, but the results have been insignificant.

There have been an array of factors that have impeded progress in the Transnistria conflict starting from the fact that Transnistria is being run by a small circle which has been making a good deal of money from the area’s unique status. The ruling clique has formed an unrecognized government, served as a base for the supply of drugs, arms, and tax-free liquor and cigarettes to other parts of the region. However, even if this ruling clique was to disappear, the insecurity of the people, the fear of another Moldovan invasion, the distrust between the two sides and the support that the Transnistrian regime had among the populace is undeniable. Furthermore, the Russian army presence in Transnistria has contributed to political and economic disturbances among many nations in the region, particularly Ukraine. In the past few years, more than 100 military drills have been held in Transnistria. Participants in the exercises strive to frighten Moldova with an imitation of a crossing of the Dniester River by the use of military pontoon bridges. Even more worrying, the reliance on exports shows the lack of sustainable economic structure in the region, as 70% of the GDP is being exported to countries like Romania, Moldova, and Russia. Although, in the past few years the ratio of CIS countries has been declining and exporting to the EU has increased.

In addition to this, Russian Vice-Prime-Minister Dmitriy Rogozin, in which the Russian government official called a Russian military withdrawal from Transnistria impossible because he said, it is necessary for Russia to defend its “compatriots” who live in the region. However, the most concerning issue surrounding the Transnistrian conflict is its lack of attention. As the ongoing conflict in Donbas keeps siphoning off and the Euroscepticism grows in Moldova itself, the danger that Transnistria disappears from the political agenda is very high. Such a scenario could result in the whole region gradually drifting off into a space of disorder and lawlessness, thereby planting the seeds of future instability. The OSCE has put considerable effort into this conflict and the possibility of a settlement is still slim. While the pressure from Russia and the west keeps growing, and tension is becoming more and more tangible, it is time for OSCE to make decisive moves.