The EU-Moldova visa-dialogue and conflict-settlement in Transnistria

Posted: 29 Jul 2010

On 15 June 2010 Moldova will initiate the visa-dialogue with the EU. The ultimate aim of the dialogue is to establish a visa-free regime for the citizens of Moldova willing to travel to the EU. In order to benefit from a visa-free regime with the EU, Moldova will have to fulfil a set of conditions related to documents security, illegal migration, public order and security, external relations and fundamental rights.

Moldova has already made substantial progress in meeting some of the criteria and is fully committed to progressing quickly towards the fulfilment of the necessary requirements in close cooperation with the EU (see annex).

Besides the process of internal adjustments stemming from the EU-Moldova visa-dialogue, there are two sets of issues in the visa-dialogue which are inherently linked to the process of conflict settlement in Transnistria. The situation in this region has implications for Moldova’s capacity to ensure the security of documents and the management of illegal migration. The Moldovan government is fully committed to solving the arising issues in partnership with the EU and for that the government would like to ask for advise and support from the EU and EU member states on the following issues.

1. Transnistria and security of breeder documents  

Moldova is implementing the necessary standards to ensure the security of breeder documents on the territory controlled by the Moldovan authorities. However, in the case of Transnistria a special situation arises due to the fact that Moldova is not able to control and ensure the process of issuance of breeder documents in Transnistria.

The government of Moldova treats all the residents of Transnistria as Moldovan citizens and seeks to engage with the residents of the region. This is an important factor for the reunification of the country and such an approach is strongly supported by the EU. Currently, some………….. Transnistrian residents already have Moldovan ID cards and passports. There was a spike in 2007…. But the process has scaled down. ….As a sign of goodwill and engagement the issuance of ID cards and passports for the residents of the region is free. These documents are issued on the basis of breeder documents issued either before the demise of the Soviet Union or by the secessionist authorities after that. The Moldovan government does not have the mechanisms to ensure a high level of security of such documents issued by the secessionist authorities.

Este nevoie aici de o staistică (dacă asta există, bineînţeles) vis-a-vis de violarea regimului de vize actual de către cei cu reăedinţă în regiune pentru a pune în evidenţă un trend. Presupun că această statistică nu există sau cei de pe malul stâng sunt la fel de buni/răi ca şi cei de pe maul drept când vine vorba de deportări din statele-membre UE, implicări în activităţi ilegale etc. Atunci s-ar putea scrie ceva de felul ăsta:

Though statistically the residents of the region do not violate the existing visa regime with the Schengen member-states at a higher rate than other Moldovan citizens and there is no existing evidence that would confirm such a trend, it is extremely important for the Government to come up with additional sets of measures that would compensate its temporary inability to secure completely the authenticity of breeder documents.

From this situation a number of questions arise and the government of Moldova would like to consult the EU and EU member states over the following aspects: Is the current situation with the issuance of Moldovan passports to the residents of Transnistria acceptable for the EU from the perspective of conflict-settlement efforts as well as the visa-dialogue? If not, what exact actions can Moldova undertake to ensure that the existing situation with the issuance of Moldovan passports to the residents of the Transnistrian region does not hamper the visa-dialogue with the EU? What kind of help could the EU offer the government of Moldova in solving issues that can arrive from the existing situation?

2. Transnistria and management of migration flows

Moldova is making constant progress in the management of its eastern border with Ukraine. This progress is most visible on those sections which are under the control of the Moldovan authorities (the ‘North’ and ‘South’ sections). On these sections of the border is almost entirely demarcated and there is a constant investment in the capacity of the border guards service through acquisitions of new equipment, training, legislative changes and cooperation with EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM).

However, the ‘central’ section of the border controlled by the secessionist authorities poses some challenges. It would be wrong to assume that the central section of the border is ‘uncontrolled’. Moldova and Ukraine started the demarcation of the central section of the border in February 2010, which is done in close cooperation with the EUBAM. Moldova has 11 police and internal customs points on the administrative border between the Transnistrian region and the rest of the country. The policemen at these points randomly check the documents of some of the people crossing the administrative line and registers some of the third country nationals entering Moldova through Transnistria which constitutes a filter for migratory flows. At the same time as part of the Moldovan-Transnistrian confidence building measures, the EU recommends Moldova to remove these internal checkpoints.

In this context Moldova would like to get a better understanding of how can Moldova in cooperation with the EU explore new possibilities for improved border management efforts on the Transnistrian section of the border with Ukraine. What could Moldova do to satisfy the EU expectations related to border management on the Transnistrian section? Some of the questions that arise is how can the EU support strengthened cooperation between the Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities in the management of migratory flows especially visa the Transnistrian section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border? Are any new measures necessary in order to improve Moldova’s capacity to improve the management of migration flows along the administrative border with the region of Transnistria? What can these measures be? How can EUBAM contribute to this process? Should Moldova modify or replace the existing model of internal check-points?

The Moldovan government would like to initiate a discussion over these issues with all the EU stakeholders – the European Commission, the EUBAM and the EU member states. Ultimately Moldova hopes to arrive to a mutually satisfactory solution of the problems above that would contribute keep in mind the EU-Moldova visa-dialogue, as well as the cooperation on the conflict settlement process.

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