Balkans, Kosovo näkökulmani

Järjestäytyneen rikollisuuden kaappaamassa Kosovossa mahdolliset muutosvaalit

Kosovossa pidetään ennenaikaiset parlamenttivaalit 6.10.2019 ja ne muodostavat tilaisuuden äänestäjille tilaisuuden vapautua rikollisjärjestöjen luomasta hallinnostaan. Olen aiemmissa kirjoituksissani kuvannut tätä aiempaa Serbian provinssia ja vuonna 2008 itsenäistynyttä maata näennäisitsenäiseksi pseudovaltioksi jolla on hyvät mahdollisuudet tulla seuraava epäonnistunut tai kaapattu valtio. Tämä toki puolueellinen näkemykseni näyttää toteutuneen sillä slovenialaisen IFIMES instituutin tuoreen vaalianalyysin mukaan uuden hallituksen keskeisin tehtävä on pysäyttää kaikkiin kosovolaisen yhteiskunnan segmentteihin ulottuvat negatiiviset trendit. Analyysin mukaan hallitukset 19 vuoden ajan edistäneet korruptiota, rikosta ja nepotismia miljardien eurojen tukien samalla hävitessä jäljettömiin. IFIMESin mukaan Kosovo kiireellisesti tarvitsee politiikan dekriminalisaatiota.

Mielipidetiedustelujen mukaan Kosovon vanhat hallituspuolueet ovat menettämässä kannatuspohjaansa erityisesti nuorten vaatiessa järjestäytynyttä rikollisuutta edustavien heimokuntien/puoleiden tilalle vielä ryvettyvättömiä vaihtoehtoja. Itselläni on epäilyksiä muutosvoiman riittävyydestä pitkään juurtuneiden rakenteiden muuttamiseksi mutta toivotan kuitenkin yritykselle onnea.

Kosovon vaaleja ja järjestäytyneen rikollisuuden politiikkaa hallitsevasta roolista olen pääblogissani julkaissut allaolevan laajemman artikkelin

Kosovars Desperately Try to Escape from their Captured OC State

Standard
Balkans, Black Sea region

Paluu South Streamiin?

grafikVenäjä perui ‘South Stream’ kaasuputkihankkeen joulukuussa 2014 korvaten sen vastaavalla ‘Turk (aka Turkish) Stream’ -suunnitelmalla. Aiemmassa kirjoituksessani Turkish, Greek And Tesla Streams Re-routing Energy Supply In Eastern Europe kerroin, kuinka tämä venäläis-turkkilainen hanke on muokkaamassa koko itäisen Euroopan energialinjaukset uudelleen erityisesti seurannaistensa – Greek ja Tesla Stream hankkeiden myötä ja miten kamppailu energiahuollon linjauksista omaa luonnollisesti (geo)poliittiset aspektinsa ja vaikutuksensa mm Ukrainan ja Makedonian osalta.

‘South Stream’in peruuntumisesta Venäjä aikoinaan syytti pääosin Bulgariaa joka EU:n ja USAn painostuksesta EU säännöksiin vedoten ei myöntänyt lupia kaasuputkihanketta varten. Uusi sovitteleva ilmapiiri Venäjän ja Bulgarian suhteissa alkoi kun presidentti Putin hiljattaisessa Deutsche Wellen haastattelussa korosti Venäjän ja Bulgarian historiallisia siteitä lisäten Venäjän olevan jatkossakin valmis kehittämään yhteisiä hankkeita maiden välillä.

Bulgarian energiaministeri Temenuzhka Petkova ilmoittikin nopeasti ‘South Stream’in yhä olevan maan kärkihankkeita ja ettei maa koskaan sitä ole hylännytkään. Edelleen virallisen peruutusilmoituksen edelleen puuttuessa Bulgaria on ylläpitänyt valmiuksia hankkeen nopeaan toteutukseen. Elinkeinoelämän liiton johtaja Kiril Domuschiev puolestaan huomautti että South Streamia palvelevaa infrastruktuuria on hyödynnettävissä myös Turk Streamissa ja muissa mahdollisissa Gazpromin ja ja Bulgarian yhteishankkeissa. Aiemman energiaministeri, nykyisen oppositiojohtaja, Dragomir Stoynev’in mukaan mikään maa ‘South Stream’in reitillä ei ole niin hyvin valmistautunut putkihankkeeseen kuin Bulgaria. Edelleen hanketta varten luotu yhteisyritys ’South Stream Bulgaria’ on yhä olemassa.

Professori Atanas Tasev totesi haastattelussaan , ettei ‘South Stream’ ollut mikään bulgarialais-venäläisen ystävyyden ilmentymä vaan kaikkein taloudellisin ja teknisesti kestävin ratkaisu putkilinjaukseen. Prof. Tasev myös pitää mahdollisena ratkaisua että South/Turk Streamin neljästä putkistosta yksi vedetään Turkkiin tyydyttämään maan omia energiatarpeita kun taas kolme putkistoa ohjataan Bulgariaan palvelemaan kaakkois- Euroopan ja EU:n kaasuntarpeita.

Turk Stream on 1 100 km pitkä Mustanmeren alittava neljästä rinnakkaisesta putkesta koostuva 63 miljardin kuutiometrin kapasiteetin omaava kaasun valtaväylä. Tästä kaasusta Turkin kotimaiseen käyttöön ohjautuu 16 miljardia m3 – eli ensimmäisen nyt laskettavan putken kapasiteetti – ja 47 miljardia m3 – kolmen Kreikan rajalle johtavan ja v. 2018 valmistuvaksi suunnitellun putken kapasiteetti – on mahdollisuus toimittaa nykyisille keski- ja itä-eurooppalaisille asiakkaille Turkin ja Kreikan rajalle rakennettavan kaasuterminaalin avulla joko LNG (nestemäinen) muodossa tahi uusia rajalta lähteviä kaasuputkistoja myöten. Olennaista hankkeessa on ettei Gazprom rakennuta tai omista näitä jatkolinjoja jolloin ne täyttävät EU:n asioita koskevat säännökset (mm EU:n Kolmas Energiapaketti – TEP – määrää etteivät kaasun toimittaja ja putkiston omistaja voi olla sama taho).

eng-propozycje-nowych-szlakow-dostaw-gazu-do-europy-srodkowej-i-poludniowo-wschodniej-2

Tesla Stream on pääosin sama linjaus kuin South Stream mutta Bulgaria on korvattu Turkki/Kreikka/Makedonia yhteydellä. Tämän linjauksen keskeisimmäksi kamppailuareenaksi nousi Makedonia jonka vakautta pyrittiin heti Turk Streamin julkaisun jälkeen EU:n ja USAn tukemana ulkopuolelta järkyttämään. Tämä värivallankumous kuitenkin viime keväänä epäonnistui (Tästä enemmän mm kirjoituksessani Terrorism in Macedonia Wasn’t An Isolated Act! ). South Streamin paluuspekulaatioista huolimatta Kreikka, Makedonia (FYROM), Serbia ja Unkari ovat valmiit syyskuussa 2015 allekirjoittamaan Bekgradissa yhteisen muistion/julkilausuman koskien yhteistyötä ’Turk Streamin’ ja sen jatkohanke ’Tesla (Balkan) Streamin’ kanssa sekä muodollisesti hyväksymään viimemainitun tarkan linjauksen.

‘Turk Stream’in toteutus on nyt viivästynyt. Venäjä on sitonut Turkille myytävän kaasun hinnanalennuksen putkiston viranomaislupiin Turkissa. Turkki puolestaan ei ole päättänyt näistä luvista hallituksen puutteen ja syksyn vaalien vuoksi. Toisaalta teknisellä tasolla hanke kuitenkin etenee. ’South Stream Transport B.V’n tekninen johtaja Andrey Fick on nimitetty ‘Turk Stream’iä rakentavan yhtiön toimitusjohtajaksi huhtikuussa 2015. Heinäkuussa 2015 Venäjän energiaministeriö lähetti Ankaraan kaksi versiota hallitusten väliseksi sopimukseksi joista toisessa esitetään kaikkien neljän putkiston rakentamista Turkkiin ja toisessa yhden putkilinjaston vetoa. Ympäristö- ja sosiaalivaikutusten (EIA ja ESUA) arvionnissa lupia varten autavat jo South Streami’ä varten tehdyt analyysit ja Venäjältä lähtevän putkiston alkupään EIA hyväksyttiin jo aiemmin South Stream’n merenalaisen hankkeen yhteydessä.

Erityisesti kaakkois-Euroopan energiahuollon ohella Turk Streamin jatkohankkeet ovat merkittäviä niihin osallistuville maille investointien ja kauttakulkumaksujen myötä;  sama pätee myös mikäli ‘South Stream’ toteutuu mutta tässä tapauksessa kauttakulkumaksujen – satoja miljoonia euroja per vuosi – suurin hyötyjä olisi Turkin sijasta Bulgaria. Mikäli South Stream kokee uudistisyntymisen ei Kreikka välttämättä jää osattomaksi koska osa kaasuvirrasta on ohjattavissa Bulgariasta Kreikkaan maiden välisen yhdysputken kautta.

[Tätä aihepiiriä käsittelen laajemmin pääblogini kirjoituksessa Comeback of South Stream? .]

Screen%20Shot%202015-08-13%20at%2010.03.21%20AM

Interactive: Veins of Influence is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Standard
Balkans, Energiapolitiikka

Turkish, Greek ja Tesla kaasuputkihankkeet uudelleenohjaavat itäisen Euroopan energiavirrat

 

54dce-turkey-euVenäjä perui South Stream kaasuputkihankkeen joulukuussa 2014 korvaten sen vastaavalla Turkish Stream suunnitelmalla. . Toukokuun 2015 alussa Gazprom ilmoitti aloittavansa Turkish Stream putkilinjan rakentamisen jo kesäkuun puolivälissä kuluvaa vuotta. Aloitus käsittää ensimmäisen (neljästä) putkilinjan asentamisen Mustanmeren pohjaan ja toteutuksen nopeus selittyy aiempaa South Stream hanketta varten tehdyillä valmisteluilla putkistojen teon, niiden laskukaluston ym sopimusten osalta. Kaasun Turkkiin lupaillaan virtaavan jo 19 kuukauden kuluttua eli joulukuussa 2016. Tämä venäläis-turkkilainen hanke on muokkaamassa koko itäisen Euroopan energialinjaukset uudelleen erityisesti seurannaistensa – Greek ja Tesla Stream hankkeiden myötä. Kamppailu energiahuollon linjauksista omaa luonnollisesti (geo)poliittiset aspektinsa ja vaikutuksensa mm Ukrainan ja Makedonian osalta.

Kaasu Euroopan markkinoille tulee putkistojen kautta lähinnä Venäjältä, Norjasta ja pohjois-Afrikasta. Pieniä määriä kaasua on tullut myös nesteytetyssä (LNG) muodossa maailmanmarkkinoilta, mutta tämän osuus on pikemminkin pienentynyt johtuen LNG kaasun korkeasta hinnasta Aasian tuontitarpeista johtuen. Putkistokaasun osalta lisäystä on lähivuosina tulossa Azerbaitsanista Turkin läpi valmistuneen TANAP –putkiston ja Kreikan ja Adrianmeren kautta etelä-Italiaan kulkevan TAP –putkiston myötä. Venäläiskaasu virtaa Eurooppaan kolmea pääväylää pitkin: Nord Stream (Itämeren kautta), Jamal (mm Valko-Venäjän kautta) ja Transgas (Ukrainan kautta). Ukrainan merkitys on vähentynyt kauttakulun luotettavuuden (maksamattomat kaasulaskut, korruptio jne), putkiston kunnon (järjestelmän uudistuksen hinnaksi arvioitu lähes 20 miljardia dollaria) ja poliittisen epävakauden takia. Venäjän ja Ukrainan välinen kaasun kauttakulkusopimus umpeutuu v. 2019 ja Venäjä on ilmaissut vievänsä kaasunsa tämän jälkeen muita reittejä.  

eu-gas-russia

Turkki on Saksan jälkeen suurin kaasunostaja Venäjältä ja maan kaasunkulutuksen ennustetaan myös kasvavan jatkossa. Turkin Euroopanpuoleinen osa on saaneet kaasun Ukrainan ja Trans Balkan putkiston kautta. Nyt rakennettava Turkish Stream rantautuu tälle Turkin läntiselle osalle jolloin nyt Bulgariasta Turkkiin johtavaa linjaa ei enää tarvit kaasuntuontiin. On kuitenkin mahdollista kääntää kaasun kulkusuuntaa ja toimittaa Turkish Streamin välittämää kaasua Bulgariaan ja eteenpäinkin ja näin korvata Ukrainan kautta nyt tuleva tuonti. (Turkish Streamista enemmän kirjoituksessani  Is South Stream Pipeline Transforming Itself To “Turk Stream”? )

Turkish Stream on 1 100 km pitkä Mustanmeren alittava neljästä rinnakkaisesta putkesta koostuva 63 miljardin kuutiometrin kapasiteetin omaava kaasun valtaväylä. Tästä kaasusta Turkin kotimaiseen käyttöön ohjautuu 16 miljardia m3 – eli ensimmäisen nyt laskettavan putken kapasiteetti – ja 47 miljardia m3 – kolmen Kreikan rajalle johtavan ja v. 2018 valmistuvaksi suunnitellun putken kapasiteetti – on mahdollisuus toimittaa nykyisille keski- ja itä-eurooppalaisille asiakkaille Turkin ja Kreikan rajalle rakennettavan kaasuterminaalin avulla.

Yksi South Streamin peruutukseen johtaneista syistä oli ns EU:n Kolmas Energiapaketti (TEP)jonka mukaan yksittäinen yritys ei samanaikaisesti voi olla sekä kaasuntoimittaja että kaasuputkien omistaja. Koska sen enempää Venäjä kuin Turkkikaan eivät ole EU:n jäseniä eikä käytännössä jäseneksi pyrkimässäkään – toisin kuin South Streamin kauttakulkumaat – eivät EU säännöt hidasta putkiston rakentamista Mustanmeren kautta Turkkiin. Turkin Ja Kreikan rajalle suunnitellusta kaasuterminaalista eteenpäin tilanne on toinen ja kaasuntoimitus keski- ja itä-Eurooppaan tulee tapahtua EU –säännösten mukaan. Tätä linjausta ovat ilmaisseet noudattavansa myös suunnitellulle linjalle osuvat ei-EU-maat.

eng-propozycje-nowych-szlakow-dostaw-gazu-do-europy-srodkowej-i-poludniowo-wschodniej (2)

Turkish Streamin ensimmäinen putkisto palvelee Turkin kotimaista kaasuntarvetta kun taas kolme linjaston muuta putkistoa on tähdätty keski- ja itä-Euroopan kysyntään. Tämän 47 miljardin m3 vuositason kaasumäärä on tarkoitus toimittaa Turkin ja Kreikan rajaterminaalista Turkish Streamista Greek Streamiksi muuntuvan putkiston kautta. Greek Stream puolestaan jakautuu kahteen haaraan: toinen – Tesla (Balkan) Stream – kohden pohjoista Makedonian, Serbian ja Unkarin kautta Itävallan Baumgartenin mittavaan kaasunjakelukeskukseen toisen linjan puolestaan kulkiessa Kreikasta Adrianmeren kautta Italiaan. Ensinmainittu Tesla Stream on pääosin sama linjaus kuin South Stream mutta Bulgaria on korvattu Turkki/Kreikka/Makedonia yhteydellä. Viimemainitulle reitille valmistuva TAP ei riitä Italian ja osin Ranskan kaasutarpeisiin joten Greek Stream tarvitsee joko TAP –linjan laajennusta tai ns Italy-Greece Interconnector (ITGI) reitin rakentamista. Perustavaa laatua oleva ero kaikissa näissä Turkish Streamin johdannaisissa on se, ettei Gazprom EU-säännösten mukaisesti voi olla niiden putkistojen haltija joiden kautta se myy kaasunsa. Venäjä on kylläkin ilmoittanut valmiutensa osaltaan rahoittaa niitä yksityisiä yrityksiä jotka mm Greek Streamia ryhtyvät rakentamaan.

Mustanmeren ja Välimeren välinen Balkanin alue on vuosisatoja ollut suurvaltojen keskinäisen kilpailun kohteena ja on tänä päivänäkin Venäjän ja länsivaltojen vastakkainasettelun etulinjaa. Energiatoimitusten keskeisin kamppailuareena nyt on Makedonia jonka mukanaolo varsinkin Tesla Streamissa on välttämätön. Makedonian vakautta onkin pyritty heti Turkish Streamin julkaisun jälkeen pyritty ulkopuolelta järkyttämään. (Tästä enemmän mm kirjoituksessani Terrorism in Macedonia Wasn’t An Isolated Act! ). Yhdysvallat on myös ottanut yhteyttä Kreikkaan ilmaisten kielteisyytensä yleisesti koko Turkish Streamia kohtaan.

Mielestäni olennaista on että Turkish Stream joka tapauksessa toimittaa venäläiskaasua suoraan Turkkiin kierrättämättä sitä Ukrainan kautta ja että uusi linjaus mahdollistaa kaasunhankinnan keski- ja itä-Eurooppaan South Streamiin verrattuna tällä kertaa aivan EU-säännösten mukaisesti. Aivan vähäinen sivuvaikutus ei mielestäni ole sekään että Turkish Stream tiivistää Kreikan ja Turkin alueellista yhteistyötä Greek Stereamin luodessa rakentamisvaiheessa 20 000 työpaikkaa ja valmistuttuaan tarjoaa Kreikalle satojen miljoonien eurojen kauttakulkumaksut taloudellisen tilansa paikkaamiseen. Aivan vastaavasti Tesla Streamin merkitys energiahuollon ohella on merkittävä Makedonialle, Serbialle ja Unkarille investointien ja kauttakulkumaksujen myötä.

Edellä viitteenomaisesti mainittuja aiheita käsittelen tarkemmin pääblogini kirjoituksessa

Turkish, Greek And Tesla Streams Re-routing Energy Supply In Eastern Europe

TurkishStream

 

 

Standard
Balkans

Passport Rank 2014: Balkans

Free movement is one fundamental human rights not only in one’s own country but also abroad. Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. They reflect also the relationships between individual nations as well the status of a country within the international community of nations. The main travel document is passport. Citizenship documented in passport regulates the level of free movement over borders; holder of one passport can travel relatively free around the globe while the choices of the holder of other passport are very limited. So passports can be ranked according to the visa-free access their holders.

Visa restrictions change according to the political situation at any given time. For example some 20 years ago citizens of Yugoslavia could travel relatively free, but the breakup wars changed situation completely. The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. For ordinary people freedom of movement might be the main carrot after nearly 20 years of isolation.

My Passport Rank table below ranks passports according to how many countries it gives visa-free access. To table I have collected the Balkan countries and for comparison the best and the worst positions. I have also indicated the change during last two years describing to how many countries more the passport gives visa-free access compared to situation on 2012. As source I have used the data published in “The Henley Visa Restrictions Index”. (Source and more about H&P please visit in their homepage )

And here is my ”Passport Rank 2014: Balkans”:

 

Passport Rank 2014 – Balkans by Ari Rusila

Rank Passport of country Visa free access to

countries

2014/

2012

+o-

1 Finland, Sweden, UK 173 +3-4
4 Denmark, Germany, USA, Luxemburg 172 +3-6
8 Belgium, Italy, Netherlands 171 +3-4
21 Greece 167 +3
31 Slovenia 155 +4
46 Bulgaria, Romania 141 +3-4
59 Croatia 129 +10
71 Serbia 104 +5
72 Macedonia (FYR) 103 +6
74 Montenegro 98 +4
80 Bosnia-Herzegovina 91 +4
81 Albania 88 +4
189 Kosovo 38 +1
197 Pakistan, Somalia 32 +1-4
199 Iraq 31 +1
200 Afghanistan 28 +2

To travel from one country to other is a fundamental freedom restricted however more or less depending about which passport the traveler holds. Generally speaking the freedom of movement has increased a lot globally as well in Balkans. Apart that I would like to point out some trivia. The new Kosovo passport, first issued by the Kosovo Government in July 2008, is still one of the least useful travel documents ever designed. Passports for example from North Korea, Myanmar, Yemen and Syria are more valid than Kosovo passport as well one from the newest countries – South Sudan.

Some half of UN member states was fooled or pressured on for recognize Kosovo’s second declaration of independence, but Kosovo passport gives visa-free access only to less than 40 countries. On the other hand Taiwan ( also UN outsider) has diplomatic relations with 23 countries but its passport holders can travel visa free to 130 countries. In Europe only Pridnestrovie – aka Transdniestria aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – may be a country which passport has less use abroad than Kosovo passport as no country has recognised its independence. From the bright side now the majority of former Kosovo Serbs can have visa-free travel abroad as they are residing in Serbia because they could not return to their homes in Kosovo after ethnic cleansing made by Kosovo Albanians on 1999 and 2004. (My view about Kosovo in my articleCaptured Pseudo-State Kosovo)

Passport is not only travel document – it has also its wider political and business aspects. For example Romania distributes its passports to its Moldovan neighbours (rank 138) so that they can travel easier e.g in EU. Russia (rank 75) gives easily passports to Ukrainians (rank 96) to make stronger ties with Russian-speaking population abroad. During Balkan wars it was also quite popular to give Bosnian passports to foreign Muslim-fighters or Jihadists (and later leading al Qaeda figures) for their support in civil war.

It is estimated that that every year, several thousand people spend a collective $2 bn ( €1.5bn) to add a second, or even third, passport to their collection. Those with money can select from half a dozen countries offering a direct citizenship-by-investment route with no residency requirements. The cheapest deal for citizenship is on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica (rank 83) where for an investment of $100,000 plus various fees, as well as an in-person interview on the island, citizenship can be bought. In better ranking Cyprus (rank 38) the costs are between €2-5 million depending program. Last year the government of Malta announced proposals to start selling citizenship of its nation to foreigners for €650,000, however after EU pressure applicants will now be required to spend at least a year in Malta in order to qualify. Several European Union countries – e.g UK, Spain, Belgium – or USA do not offer citizenship for purchase outright, but do offer residence permits to wealthy individuals; that include free movement within the Schengen area, in exchange for high fees and the requirement to invest in the country.


The passport rank shows also one peculiarity related to international aid and development. In Balkans besides Kosovo also Bosnia-Herzegovina together with Albania have the worst scores despite the fact that EU and international community have guided and supervised these regions towards “European standards” nearly twenty years with huge state- and capasity building measures and billions of bucks. So has EU failed with this task as those countries without outside supervision are getting visa-freedom earlier?

One could also conclude or claim that the EU is isolating three mainly Muslim European states/regions – Albania, BiH and Kosovo – and Turkey (rank 76, visa-free access to 94 countries) as some in the EU fear the presence of such a large, Muslim community inside traditionally Christian Europe. Of course EU denies political aspects and highlights only the technical ones but from Balkan perspective the impression can differ.

Standard
Balkans, Black Sea region

Pridnestrovie in Context of Ukraine

Transdniestria flag

Prologue

Transnistrian claim for independence is being met with a certain degree of sympathy and understanding by some of the western experts. As an example, a Finnish political analyst and blogger Ari Rusila can be named; he usually presents the Transnistrian de facto statehood in quite a positive light, admitting, in particular, that “Transnistria called my attention first because of its quite ready statehood elements without outside recognition, second because of changed circumstances in respect for international law after Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence and thirdly because I predicted that Trandnistria could be the next tinderbox of separatism between Georgian conflict and coming troubles in Ukraine”. He believes that Transnistria, if compared with Kosovo, has had in fact much more reasons to be recognised internationally.


The quote above is from a paper Transnistrian Conflict: State of Affairs and Prospects of Settlement  prepared for the International conference “Frozen Conflicts” in Europe (1st September 2012, Bled, Slovenia) by Natalia Belitser and the sitation is based on my articles published in 2008.
Transdniestria
Pridnestrovie as next Crimea?


As the crisis in Ukraine continues to simmer, tensions in the country’s western neighbor Moldova are beginning to rise. Seeking to capitalize on President Putin’s eagerness to use the protection of Russian speaking populations in the region as a pretext to expand his territorial claims, members of two separate enclaves in Moldova are looking toward Moscow for protection.


Now after uprising and coup in Ukraine and annexing Crimea into Russia, tensions have grown to encompass Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, which like Ukraine has been making efforts to integrate further with the West. Moldova has signed the EU association and free trade agreements at the November 2013 Vilnius summit, during which former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich rejected the deals. The Moldovan government has also supported the Western-backed uprising in Ukraine. Western experts worry that the next “Crimea” could be the breakaway region of Pridnestrovie. Many locals there don’t share that fear, and if the last referendum holds, a large majority would welcome a Russian annexation.


Pridnestrovie aka Transdniestria – also known as Transnistria aka  Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR/TMR) – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. The official language of Transdniestria is Russian, not Moldovan, while the vast Majority of schools teach the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Roman alphabet used in the rest of the country. Recently  Pridnestrovie adopted Russian legislation, a clear signal of the region’s preference for joining Moscow’s customs union.

Most recently, Russian military exercises held March 25 in Moldova’s breakaway territory of Pridnestrovie have stoked these tensions. From its side the parliament (called Supreme Soviet) of Pridnestrovie has sent a proposal to the State Duma asking for in Russian legislation to join the breakaway Republic in Russia. The document originated in the DG as feedback on refering new draft law in Russia on the simplified order of joining the Russian federation new actors on the basis of a referendum, no international treaty, if in a foreign country has no effective legitimate authority “. (Source: Forum Pridnestrovie )


Now Moldova’s Pridnestrovie region is seeking to follow Crimea and join Russia and this is not causing concern only in Moldova but in neighbouring Romania, Ukraine as well in EU and Nato too.
Transdniestria – and Gagauzia – are joining to the same club with Abkhazia and South Ossetia as de facto states, namely political entities that have achieved enduring ‘internal sovereignty’ – but lack ‘external sovereignty’ in the international system. As Crimea is annexed to Russia and these other “states” can follow to join Russia or continue as de facto state, this development is creating a Northern Black Sea corridor, frontline or buffer zone.

North Black Sea buffer zone

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Good Moldavia-Pridnestrovie cooperation since 2009 and 2011 elections


New prospects for conflict settlement have appeared after parliamentary elections of 2009 in the Republic of Moldova. The new pro-Western team – the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) – that substituted the Communist Party ruling the country from 2001, proved much more pragmatic and willing to deal with its breakaway region than their predecessors pursuing rather an isolationist policy. In 2011 presidential elections President Igor Smirnov, who had been in power since Pridnestrovie declared independence in 1990, failed to be re-elected, and was replaced by opposition MP, younger leader of the ‘Revival’ movement and former speaker of the Supreme Council Yevgeny Shevchuk. These political changes engendered hopes for the settlement process to acquire a positive momentum.


The power changes in Pridnestrovie give positive boost to peace process: the official negotiation process re-started after six years interruption in November 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to be followed by a meeting on February 2012 in Dublin, Ireland and on April 2012. Finally the Document of principles and procedures and agenda of negotiations were agreed in Vienna, whereas on July 2012 this Document was signed. It included such issues as freedom of movement of passengers and cargo, traffic of trains, education issues,etc. Also a new approach (joint initiative of Russia and Germany, Meseburg, 2010) by the EU and Russia to resolve the conflict was the setting up of a joint Political and Security Committee (EU-R-PSC) at minister level. Related to security issues it was stated that the EU and Russia will cooperate in particular towards a resolution of the Transdniestria conflict with a view to achieve tangible progress within the established 5 + 2 format (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova,Pridnestrovie , OSCE, EU, US). This cooperation could include a joint EU-Russia engagement, which would guarantee a smooth transition of the present situation to a final stage.


The main approach of the resumed negotiations and to the settlement process in general focuses on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). This means that political aspects of the settlement, for example a mutually accepted status of Pridnestrovie, are not yet touched. Instead status there has been attempts to make concrete steps of issues that both sides of the conflict are interested in. These kind of initiatives have already been following:

  • Engaging the sides into direct dialogue;
  • Establishing joint Working/Expert Groups on confidence building measures;
  • Conducting meetings at a higher level (for example, between Prime-minister of the RM Vlad Filat and leader of Pridnestrovie Yevgeny Shevchuk, also between the heads of foreign ministries Eugen Carpov and Nina Stanski);
  • Elaborating and implementing national and international social and economic development projects etc.

The direct dialogue at a higher level has been clear contrast to previous lack of any kind of dialogue lasting for years. There has been a dozen WGs e.g. on economy, agriculture and environment, transport, railways, civil status acts, social and humanitarian aid, health, education, combating organised crimes and emergencies, telecommunications, and customs, whereas the WG on demilitarisation and security is not yet operating.
Growing dispute between parties started by unilateral actions by both parties during Spring 2013. First Moldova established migration control of citizens in six checkpoints, second  Pridnestroviestarted to mark border in in the sc Security Zone or line of demarcation after the Transdniestrian war (1992).
More about negotiation history in my article Transnistrian number game and in conference paper Transnistrian Conflict: State of Affairs and Prospects of Settlement  by Natalya Belitser )

Tools against Pridnestrovie by Chisinau and Kiev

Arsenal of tools, on that, with the support of Western “ideological-political sponsors” can count in Chisinau and the Kiev could be as following:

  • further tightening of border crossing for the residents of Pridnestrovieh, the introduction of a total ban on border crossings by social groups and citizens (It is noteworthy in this regard that, that the admission of foreign citizens on the territory of Moldova is liberalized; Ukrainian officials should examine stats for financial gains and losses of the Moldovan side of Ukrainian companies, eg, air carriers);
  • blocking of export-import operations of the Pridnestrovie side, transit of Pridnestrovie goods, that is well within the common “European” subjects as a way to European integration, with a demand for the full functioning of the Pridnestrovie Moldovan business rules;
  • ban on border crossings by vehicles with Pridnestrovie number;
  • refusal to issue permits for the Pridnestrovie passenger transport;
  • Moldovan law on the placement of the Ukrainian checkpoints with full access to all databases and law carry out administrative functions, etc..

Russia ready if needed

Nato warns that a pro-Russian enclave of Moldova could be Moscow’s next target after Crimea. Nato’s top military Commander Europe Philip Breedlove said on 23rd March 2014 that Russia has a large force on Ukraine’s eastern border and is worried it could pose a threat to Moldova’s separatist Pridnestrovie region.Russia launched a new military exercise, involving 8,500 artillery men, near Ukraine’s border 10 days ago. Breedlove said the Russian tactic should lead the 28-nation Western military alliance to rethink the positioning and readiness of its forces in eastern Europe so that they were ready to counter Moscow’s moves.(The Telegraph)


How the Russian forces would get there. Pridnestrovie is landlocked and to go there by land would require Russian troops to travel through much of western Ukraine. However, Russian forces based in the Eastern side of the Black Sea and Crimea could conceivably stage an airlift. Since it fought a brief separatist war to breakaway from Moldova in 1991, Pridnestrovie has been home to “peacekeeping” garrison of around 1,000 Russian troops. One option is also that Russia includes Odessa in a “security belt” that would presumably stretch from Crimea to Transdniestria.


The speaker of Pridnestrovie’s separatist parliament urged Russia middle of March 2014 to incorporate the region and the republic’s parliament, called the Supreme Soviet, sent an official request to Moscow asking if Transdniestria could be allowed to join the Russian Federation. The talks within the 5+2 format (Russia, Moldova, Pridnestrovie, Ukraine, the OSCE and observers from the EU and the US) are scheduled for 10-11 April 2014.


In Moldova the appetite for European integration among Moldova’s 3.5 million people had weakened even before the crisis in Ukraine and a parliamentary election later this year may bring a return of the pro-Russian Communist Party That was forced from power in 2009. Moldova falls under the EU’s Neighborhood Policy, which contains no explicit similar promise of membership like the countries of the Western Balkans .

Gagauzia had referendum too

Gagauzia Moldova map

Transnistria (orange) and Gagauzia (red) are pro-Russian regions in Moldova (photo courtesy of Stratfor)

Following a 1991 declaration of independence, Comrat (Gagauzia’s capital) agreed to remain a part of Moldova, after Chisinau agreed to grant the region the legal status of a “special autonomous zone“. Chisinau’s control was challenged in February 2014 when Gagauzia held a referendum to join the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union. The referendum followed Chisinau’s decision to enter a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union in November 2013–the same agreement former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich snubbed when he opted for the customs union with Moscow. Gagauzia has a population of about 155,000 people, mostly ethnically Gagauz, Turkic-speaking Orthodox Christians. Many locals fear that Chisinau’s EU-integration agenda masks an intention to unite Moldova with neighboring Romania.


An overwhelming majority of voters in a referendum – with turnout more than 70 % – held in the autonomous Moldovan region of Gagauzia have voted for integration with a Russia-led customs union: 98.4 percent of voters chose closer relations with the CIS Customs Union. In a separate question, 97.2 percent were against closer EU integration. In addition, 98.9 percent of voters supported Gagauzia’s right to declare independence should Moldova lose or surrender its own independence. Moldova’s government claims that referendum in Gagauzia is unconstitutional and had no legal legitimacy.


Although the security situation in Gagauzia remains calm, on 26 March, the executive committee in Comrat announced its decision to establish independent police stations in Comrat, as well as in its northern and southern cities of Briceni and Cahul. Moscow has demonstrated support for Gagauzia following the referendum. The regions governor, Mihail Formuzal visited Moscow in March 2014 and got impression that Russia was prepared to expand partnerships with Gagauzia and “provide the necessary support”. Despite an embargo against wine produced in Moldova, Russia began importing it from Gagauzia, likely as an attempt to encourage additional good will toward its benefactor.

Bottom line


It easy to say that incorporating Transdniestria – as well Gagauzia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Crimea – into Russia (and Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia) is against international law (whatever it is) or some international agreements. Although Russia moving into eastern Ukraine could be–as the West says–invasion-occupation-annexation. However in my opinion these actions are more legitimate or justified than U.S.expansionism, secret wars and interventions around the globe.


The other possible scenarios than annex into Russia for Pridnestrovie are e.g:

  •  Status quo maintained aka “frozen conflict” continues;
  • Re-integration of the Republic of Moldova with condition of establishing a confederation including Moldova, Transdniestria as Gaugazia entities, this could be pragmatic option for Ukraine too;
  • Transnistria gained its independence and state sovereignty recognized internationally
  • Joining Ukraine, which option after coup in Kiev seems most unlikely option to me.

In my opinion even without international recognizion Pridnestrovie meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood. As long as Pridnestrovie’s status is unresolved, it will be a serious political obstacle to Moldova’s joining the EU, which does not want another “divided state” like Cyprus on it hands.

Transdniestria and Moldavia map
My previous article about Pridnestrovie:

 

Note: An Italian version of this article published too

Il futuro della Transnistria nel contesto della crisi Ucraina

Standard
Balkans, crisis management

Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg

I’m happy to reprint an article Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg, director of TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research). Dr Oberg served since 1991 four years as mediator between parties in Kosovo and also was in Serbia during Nato-bombing. His analysis in my opinion gives a good view not only Kosovo but also some events today. Jan is also the founding member in TFF which was established on January 1, 1986. Its mission is following:

TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.
TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy.
The Foundation is committed to doing diagnosis and prognosis as well as proposing solutions. It does so in a clear, pro-peace manner.”

tff logoMore in TFF home page


Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research    by Jan Oberg TFF director

Lund, Sweden March 24, 2014

Media with a pro-Western bias usually remind us of 9/11 based on a victim narrative. We just passed 3/20 – the 11th Anniversay of the war on Iraq. Every year they forget 10/7 (Afghanistan) and 3/24, the destruction of Serbia-Kosovo in 1999.

What to do when NATO’s raison d’etre – the Warsaw Pact – had dissolved? Answer: Turn NATO into a humanitarian bombing organisation which in – fake – Gandhian style could say: We are bombing for a higher ethical humanitarian purpose to save lives and on this exceptionalist moral high ground we ignore international law.

Kosovo 15 years later

Kosovo remains a unique result of propaganda and mass killings to produce and independent state without a UN Security Council mandate – which doesn’t prevent Western politicians from teaching Russia international law these very days.

If Kosovo, why not Tibet, Taiwan, the Basque country, Korsica, Kurdistan, Palestine, or Crimea? The answer is: Kosovo was exceptional. But why? Oil and gas, perhaps, see later…

Kosovo of 2014 is a failed state with quite a few of the – unconvicted – war criminals of the 1990s still in power. (They were leaders of UCK/KLA army that was set up by CIA and its German brother BND behind the back of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovo-Albanian leader and advocate of pragmatic non-violence).

The international so-called community (read: a handful of NATO countries) have ever since violated UN SC Resolution 1244 that stated that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, FRY, was a sovereign state with territorial integrity.

The US got what was the real pupose of it all, the gigantic Bondsteel base in Kosovo, the largest built outside th U.S. since the Vietnam war – to secure the numerous gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia to the Vlore harbour in Albania. Did you ever hear about Bondsteel?

Till today, only 56% of the UN member states have recognised Kosovo as independent (declared in 2008). Reverse ethnic cleansing of the Serb minority in Kosovo took place right after NATO’s bombing – “we must understand the anger there” as some expressed it.

Serbs were some 20% of Kosovo’s people in the 1960s, today a few percent. This and the Kraina ethnic cleansing against the Croatian Serbs were the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing campaigns in the 1990s.

Insecurity, hatred and a miserable economy still characterise Kosovo after 15 years of all kinds of international missions in the place. Something very deep must be wrong. 

Whether it was a good idea to make Kosovo an independent (failed) state or not can be discussed. Belgrade’s repression was unacceptable, for sure, but there was no genocide. However, what can not be discussed is that NATO’s bombing wasn’t the right means with which to help create a solution.

If the West/US/NATO doesn’t learn from Yugoslavia, such immoral, illegal and ill-conceived projects will continue in various forms.

A personal memory

The people I met during the bombings in Belgrade and Novi Sad during the merciless destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not see NATO’s war during 78 days as a humanitarian operation. Neither could I.

I remember standing on the 5th floor of the Moskva Hotel in the heart of Belgrade, see NATO’s fireworks during the night – its relentless pounding of the Batanica Airbase 10 kilometres outside Belgrade. I shall never be able to forget how I felt the blast up through my body. I would like to believe that if the decision-makers behind this war had been in that room and seen the destruction by daytime, they would have stopped the campaign.

Geographical distance and psychic numbing are two of the most nasty war-promoters.

One morning Belgrade woke up to the destruction of various ministry buildings in the centre. A maternity clinic had taken a hit too. That was the first time the Swedish government uttered anything but full support; then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, said on radio that perhaps such big bombs should not be used in city centres.

My wife called me that morning and told me that Lindh had finally said that much. I said, I know why – because I was to have a meeting with the Swedish Ambassador that morning but he had just called me to tell that we had to postpone it because the blast had blown in some windows and the main door of his villa (10 kilometres away).

That was Madame Lindh’s moment of truth. Logically, the foundation in her name last year awarded Madeleine Albright the Anna Lindh Prize

TFF’s mediation in Kosovo had a price

TFF has been engaged in Yugoslavia since 1991 and still follow developments closely. It was the only organisation that did mediation for years with three governments in Belgrade and the non-violent political ladership in the Kosovo province under Dr. Ibrahim Rugova. I personally served for 4 years as unpaid goodwill mediator between the two.

TFF produced a proposal for a 3-year negotiation process under the leadership of the UN – the only document published widely in the media in both Belgrade and Kosovo.

Naturally, TFF’s conflict-mitigation experts went out in the media against the idea of bombing because we knew that the parties were interested in a negotiated solution. And we managed quite well to influence opinion.

But neither countries like Sweden or NATO were the slightest interested in real negotiations – Ramboulliet  which, among other things, sought to force Serbia to accept NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia was a stage-set pretext for bombing by, among others, Madeleine Albright, no negotiations taking place there. 

The Swedish government at no point showed any interest in TFF’s work all over Yugslavia. But they must have known about it – because in December 1999 we received a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing due regret that the annual organisational support we had received over 9 years (about US$ 60.000) would not be paid in the future.

Having worked for all these years with conflict analysis and peace-making in all parts of Yugslavia was too much for a Sweden that, after Olof Palme, had turned itself into an obedient follower of US/NATO, stopped being neutral and having an independent foreign policy, let alone a peace and disarmament policy.

Thus, TFF is the only organisation of its kind that has been thrown out of the Swedish government’s budget. We are proud of having survived as people-financed ever since.

Researchers who are dependent on governments for their salary and projects usually believe that they conduct free research. But there is no government money in the field of security and peace without strings attached.

That explains the political correctness, predictability and boredom embedded in most government-financed research works in the field and why genuine peace is seldom promoted in them. 

•••

Post Script by Ari Rusila:

I have also dealt issues mentioned article above. My on the ground experience comes from my capacity building work in Kosovo just after bombing and following situation then afterwards. Here is some of my own articles about topic:

kosovo heroin flag

Standard
Balkans, Black Sea region

Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam, by Jan Oberg

I’m happy to reprint an article “Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam” by Jan Oberg, director of TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research). His analysis in my opinion provides an exellent framework and wider context to what now is happening in Crimea. Jan is also the founding member in TFF which was established on January 1, 1986. Its mission is following:

“TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.
TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy.
The Foundation is committed to doing diagnosis and prognosis as well as proposing solutions. It does so in a clear, pro-peace manner.”

TFF logoMore in TFF home page

 

 

Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam

By Jan Oberg

TFF director

Lund, Sweden March 16, 2014

Of course it is illegal and of course it will be rigged, that referendum in Crimea today. And of course it is a ploy and comes only in the wake of Russia’s (read Putin’s) unprovoked aggression, used as a pretext to build a new Greater Russia. 

That is, if you browse the mainstream Western media the last week and on this Sunday morning. 

Referendum means referring an issue back to the people. It is – or should be – an important instrument  in democracies. And it’s a much better instrument than war and other violence to settle complex conflicts.

Generally, citizens-decided conflict-resolution is likely to last longer and help healing wounds of the past than any type of solution imposed by outside actors.

In Switzerland citizens go and vote on all kinds of issues on many a Sunday throughout the year. Sweden has used it to decide about nuclear energy, Denmark about EU membership and – in 1920 – to solve the conflicts in Schleswig-Holstein and define the future border between Germany and Denmark. Referendums, binding as well as non-binding, are an accepted instrument in many countries.

 

Why did the West not use referendums?

The West likes to pride itself of its type of democracy whenever and wherever it can. But it doesn’t use the referendum instrument that often. 

About 25 years ago it decided that it was good conflict-resolution to divide Yugoslavia into six republics; foolishly it used the old administrative borders and elevated them to international borders (the purpose behind that: you could then define the Yugoslav People’s Army’s presence in Croatia and Slovenia as ”international aggression by Serbia”) instead of asking people to which republic they preferred to belong.

In a few days it is 15 years ago NATO bombed Kosovo and Serbia to ”liberate” Kosovo and make it an independent – predictably failed – state. Fifteen years later, one wonders what better situation a negotiated solution ending with a referendum could have produced. No referendum there either.

Or take the Dayton Accords from 1995 for Bosnia-Hercegovina. No one in the democratic West bothered to ask the 4,3 million people living there (arund 33% Serbs, 45% Muslims/Bosniaks and 17% Croats) whether they would like to live under those Accords.

Further, Dayton was signed in the US, the Bosnian constitution written by US lawyers and the agreement signed by three presidents none of whom were representing anybody in Bosnia at the time of signing. Not exactly a democratic peace. And it should be clear today that it is not going to work in the future either.

Or take the issue of nuclear weapons. No nuclear weapon state has ever asked its citizens whether they want want their country to possess nuclear weapons which, logically, also make them potential targets of somebody else’s nukes. All opinion surveys in the nuclear powers tell us that there is no majority anywhere for the nuclear weapon status.

And how few of the new Eastern members of NATO and the EU have had a referendum on membership?

So, even in democracies the belief that ”we know what is best for you” often stands in the way of more intelligent, democratic conflict-resolution, i.e. better and more sustainable solutions to complex conflicts.

This is dangerous: How did it come to this?

Crimea is an extremely sensitive conflict spot and has been for centuries. In my view, there is more than a 50% risk that the situation we see today in Ukraine may lead to something like Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Conflicts and violence – even the threat of it – as well as sanctions have their own dynamics and there is always a risk that they spin out of control – if people don’t stop and think but continue tit-for-tat escalation. 

Why has it come to this? There are many reasons but let me mention these:

► The US and the EU have meddled in Ukraine’s internal affairs in a way that they would never accept Russian neo-cons, finance institutions and NGOs would in their own countries and are, thus, significantly co-responsible for the mess.

► The US and the EU lack politicians and they lack advisers who understand the larger scheme of things. They invest in spin doctors and PR companies instead of in knowledge-based expertise. It should have been obvious to a historically minded Western security and foreign policy elite that Ukraine is not a place to fish in extremely troubled waters and not expect a harsh reaction.

► Putin sees a golden opportunity to play tough in the light of the history of the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact saying in effect: This far and no longer! To be or act surprised at that speaks volumes of ignorance, propaganda, or both. 

The triumphalist US/NATO/EU expansion policies since 1989 would boomerang at some point – and that point is Ukraine, Ukraine meaning ”border” (like Krijina in Croatia). 

Wiser politicians of the past: Common security

Whether we like it or not, the US and the EU have handed Russia and Putin a point or two on a silver plate.

Wiser politicians like Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, Urho Kekkonen, or Nelson Mandela knew that we need peace first and then a policy to secure it (not the other way around) and that that again means moderation, prudence and search for common interests rather than provocatively promoting yourself. 

The reduction in intellectualism and moderation of foreign and security policy elites worries me at least as much as Russia’s response to US/NATO/EU the-winner-takes-it-all policies.

Hopefully the referendum may defuse tension

And, so, let’s rather hope that the referendum in Crimea could be a means to diffuse the tension. The rest of Ukraine has its own deeply worrying conflict- and violence-prone factors looming.

But they don’t have to blow up like Pakrac, Western Slavonia in Yugoslavia were the first shot was fired in what became a terrible war. And remember that war was preceded by a similar fishing in troubled waters as we have seen in Ukraine.

Are political decision-makers and media able to learn from contemporary history this time or will Yugoslavia be repeated? 

Perhaps a Christian West should remind itself – and take serious – of the Gospel of Matthew 1-5:

”And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

The mutual blaming in Moscow, Brussels and Washington of ”the other” should be seen as little but psychological projections of their own dark sides (beams) of which they must be subconsciously aware.

We will get nowhere but to hell with tit-for-tat, judgementalism and self-righterousness. Both Russia and the West should, instead, take steps in the direction of democratic peace-making: refer issues back to people themselves but – and that is important beyond words – stop influencing or buying them on the way to the ballot box.

 

TFF provides research and public education related to the basic UN Charter norm that “peace shall be established by peaceful means”. 

Jan Oberg

TFF director, dr. hc.

March 16, 2014

Standard