A discussion paper was prepared by Olena Betliy, Research Fellow at the Institute of World PolicyFull text of the report is available here.
2. Ukraine’s interests toward Moldova and Moldova’s interests toward Ukraine
2.1. No problems, just questions: package agreements
2.2. Economic cooperation: protectionism or free trade?
2.3. Battle for the Dniester
2.4. Ethnic minorities: problem of self-identification
2.5. Integrated border management and cross-border cooperation. Transnistria
2.6. Transnistria: political issues
3. Who is who? Interest groups and power groups
4. Existing risks and potential conflicts
Petro Mohyla (1596-1647) is a symbolic and uniting figure for the Ukraine-Moldova relations primarily as a reminder of the common European space in Eastern Europe. Born in a family of Moldovan hospodars, Mohyla was a noble and well-educated voivode and the metropolitan of Kyiv. He faced no lesser challenges than modern ones and was able to lead his flock through them by implementing a series of measures to raise a new, educated generation and by relying on the ancient Christian Rus’ identity. We would call someone like Mohyla a successful reformer, while his contemporaries referred to him as a defender of Rus’ rights, one who brought peace to Rus’ and “did and fixed everything well”. .
By choosing “European integration as a strategic goal of both states”, Ukraine and Moldova are again building their bilateral relations in the common European space. The strengthening of their statehood also depends on successful reforms and the restoration of political identity. Moreover, European integration can be viewed as a stimulus to enhancing bilateral cooperation through joint project implementation and the common experience of Europeanization.
The European choice of Ukraine and Moldova is also underscored by the symbolic political gestures of the leadership of the two countries. Prime Minister of Moldova Iurie Leancă made a working visit to Kyiv and met with Arsenii Yatseniuk, who had just assumed the premier’s office, on 17 March 2014, at a difficult time when Ukraine faced Russian aggression in the Crimea. This visit was an expression of Chişinău’s pro-Ukrainian policy, showing that it needed a democratic European neighbor. The visit of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski to Chişinău on 20 November 2014, on the eve of the parliamentary elections, was perceived as a gesture of support for pro-European forces in Moldova. “There will be no alternative to the European path of Moldova’s development,” Poroshenko said during the visit. The importance of further mutual support of pro-European forces and European aspirations continued to be emphasized. In another symbolic political gesture, Moldova’s Minister of Defense was present at a parade to mark the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence in Kyiv, and his Ukrainian counterpart returned the favor by attending a similar parade in Chişinău. Interparliamentary cooperation is also well-established, largely thanks to MP Pavlo Unhurian, who has thorough knowledge of the situation in Moldova and the development of the Ukraine-Moldova relations and heads the group for interparliamentary relations with the Republic of Moldova. Cooperation between Ukraine’s and Moldova’s delegations in PACE permits using this platform to protect the territorial integrity of the two countries.
At present, cooperation between Ukraine and Moldova can be described as active and intensive. When the office of Ukraine’s ambassador to Moldova was vacant (November 2014 – September 2015), the resolution of certain issues was slowed down. Moreover, certain “stagnation” in the bilateral relations has always been linked to Russian aggression. However, 2016 is a breakthrough year marked by intensified dialogue at the top level and the preparation of a series of bilateral events: President Poroshenko met with Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip in Odesa Oblast on 7 October 2016. First Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv is scheduled to meet with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Octavian Calmîc in Chişinău in 2016 to resume the activities of the commission. (The two ministers co-chair an intergovernmental commission.) Moreover, prime ministers Volodymyr Hroisman and Filip will open the Bronnytsia-Unguri bridge with customs checkpoints by the end of 2016. No less active is dialogue between the defense, environment, infrastructure ministries and the border guard and customs services. Cooperation has the form of package deals following the principle “nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon”, so the success of these agreements largely depends on the effective coordinating role of the ministries of foreign affairs of Ukraine and Moldova.
Thus, both sides now demonstrate the will to fulfill previously reached agreements and move on to the next stage in their relations. In particular, each side proposes focusing on dialogue as the best format for fulfilling package agreements, treating the respective areas of bilateral cooperation not as problems but as issues already being addressed. Correspondingly, there is a reason for tentative optimism that four groups of problems in the Ukraine-Moldova relations previously identified by experts (border demarcation, mutual claims to property, conditions for the operation of the Dniester Hydroelectric Station (Dniester HES-1), and environmental issues) will be resolved.
Apart from the effective and rapid fulfillment of package agreements and the successful implementation of the AA and DCFTA with the EU, which are in the interests of the two states, the following interests can be singled out:
Ukraine’s interests toward Moldova:
– control over the state border between Ukraine and Moldova, especially along the Dniester, which is a security factor for Ukraine;
– resistance to Russian propaganda and increasing the impact of Ukraine’s soft power in Moldova;
– expansion of economic cooperation and Chişinău’s friendly economic policy, which will make it impossible – to use the tool of trade wars in the future;
– multilateral cooperation with the Ukrainian diaspora in Moldova;
– settling the conflict in Transnistria.
Moldova’s interests toward Ukraine:
– international security and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity;
– development of infrastructural projects as a platform for more extensive cooperation and tourism;
– environmental situation;
– control over the border between the two states;
– development of economic relations;
– cooperation with the regions of Ukraine;
– support for the Moldovan minority in Ukraine;
– settlement of the Transnistria conflict.
This report was conducted within the project of the Institute of World Policy “Ukraine’s Foreign Policy Audit”. This project is implemented with the support of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation of German Marshall Fund of the USA, and the “Think Tank Support Initiative” implemented by the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) in partnership with Think Tank Fund (TTF) with financial support of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine.
The contents are those of the Institute of World Policy and do not necessarily reflect the views of the German Marshall Fund of the USA, the Swedish Government, the International Renaissance Foundation, Think Tank Fund.