-->Transnistria-Moldova Territorial Dispute (ICE)

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ICE Case Studies
Number 182, May, 2006

Olga Savceac

Transnistria-Moldova Conflict

I. Case Background
II. Environment Aspect
III. Conflict Aspect
IV. Env. - Conflict Overlap
V. Related Information



1. Abstract

Transnistria-Moldova Conflict: Territorial Dispute


Transnistria is referred to in one of three principal ways:

Stinga Nistrului (Left Bank of the Nistru) (by official Moldovan sources)

Pridnestrovskaja Moldavskaja Respublika ((PMR) (by Transnistrian official sources)

Moldovan Republic of Transnistria (MRT) (by European Court of Human Rights)

Territorial disputes are often related to the possession of natural resources such as rivers, fertile farmland, mineral or oil resources. However, these disputes can also be driven by culture, religion and ethnic nationalism. The Transnistria-Moldova conflict has its roots in geopolitical, economical and environmental motives. Transnistria is a self-declared state; it is internationally recognized as being part of Moldova, but claims independence and maintains some sovereignty with the assistance of Russia. The region has been de facto independent since 1991, when it made a unilateral declaration of independence from Moldova and successfully defeated Moldovan forces, with Russian assistance. While a ceasefire has held ever since, the Council of Europe recognizes Transnistria as a "frozen conflict" region.

2. Description

In many cases territorial disputes result from vague and unclear language in a treaty that set up the original boundary. Moldova has a long history as a border state between great powers, therefore Transnistria can make claims to a special political status on historical grounds [8]:


Middle Ages to the 20th Century

In the early Middle Ages the region was populated by Slavic tribes of Ulichs and Tivertsy as well as by Turkic nomads such as Pechenegs and the Polovtsi. A part of Kievan Rus' at times, and a formal part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 15th century, the area came under the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1504. It was eventually ceded to the Russian Empire in 1792. At that time, the population was sparse and mostly Moldovan/Romanian and Ukrainian, but also included a nomadic Tatar population. The end of the 18th century marked the Russian Empire's colonization of the region, with the aim of defending what was at the time the Imperial Russian southwestern border, as a result of which large migrations were encouraged into the region, including people of Ukrainian, Russian, and German nationalities.

Autonomous Republic

In 1918 the Directory of Ukraine proclaimed its sovereignty over the left bank of the Dniester. At that time, the population was 48% Ukrainian, 30% Moldavian, 9% Russian, and 8.5% Jewish. One third of that region (around Balta) belongs today to Ukraine. In 1922 the Ukrainian SSR was created, and in 1924 the region became part of the Moldavian ASSR within the Ukrainian SSR.

The Moldavian SSR, which was set up by a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the 2nd of August, 1940, was formed from a part of Bessarabia taken from Romania on the 28th of June, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, where the majority of the population were Romanian speakers, and a strip of land on the left bank of the Dniester in the Ukrainian SSR, Transnistria, which was transferred to it in 1940. In 1941, after Axis Forces invaded Bessarabia in the course of the Second World War, they advanced over the Dniester river. Romania annexed the entire region between Dniester and Bug rivers, including the city of Odessa. However, the Soviet Union regained the area in 1944 when the Soviet Army advanced into the territory driving out the Axis forces.

Soviet Moldova

The Moldovian SSR became the subject of a systematic policy of Russification, even more so than in Czarist times. Most industry that was built in the Moldavian SSR was concentrated in Transnistria, while the rest of Moldova had a predominantly agricultural economy. The 14th Soviet army had been based there since 1956 and was kept there after the fall of the Soviet Union to safeguard what is probably the biggest weapons stockpile and ammunition depot in Europe, which was set up in Soviet times for possible operations in the event of World War III.

The Secession

During the last years of the 1980s, the political landscape of the USSR was changing owing to Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of perestroika, which allowed political liberalisation at the regional level. The incomplete democratization was preliminary for the nationalism to become the most dynamic political force. Some national minorities opposed these changes in the Moldovan political class of the republic, since during Soviet times, local politics had often been dominated by non-Romanians, particularly by those of Russian origin. The language laws -- introducing the Latin alphabet for written Moldovan -- presented a particularly volatile issue as a great proportion of the non-Romanian population of the Moldavian SSR did not speak Moldovan. The problem of official languages in the Republic of Moldova has become an official cause for a conflict, being exaggerated and, perhaps, intentionally politicized.

On the 2nd of September, 1990 the Moldovan Republic of Transnistria was proclaimed. On the 25th of August, 1991 the Supreme Council of the MRT adopted the declaration of independence of the MRT. On the 27th of August, 1991 the Moldovan Parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova, whose territory included Transnistria. The Moldovan Parliament asked the Government of the USSR "to begin negotiations with the Moldovan Government in order to put an end to the illegal occupation of the Republic of Moldova and withdraw Soviet troops from Moldovan territory".

After Moldova became a member of the United Nations (March 2nd, 1992), Moldovan President Mircea Snegur authorized concerted military action against rebel forces. The rebels, aided by contingents of Russian Cossacks and the Russian 14th Army, consolidated their control over most of the disputed area. The presidents of Moldova and Russia signed an agreement in July of 1992 which ended the conflict and established a "security zone" controlled by Russian, Moldovan, and Transnistrian forces. In October of 1994, the Moldovan and Russian governments signed another agreement whereby the Russian government agreed to withdraw the 14th Army forces from Moldovan territory over a three-year period. The Russian State Duma, however, has not approved the agreement and Russian forces remain in Transnistria. The presidents of Russia and Ukraine brokered an agreement in May of 1997 between the Moldovan and Transnistrian governments which ended the civil war. Under the terms of the agreement, Transnistria would remain Moldovan territory unless Moldova decides to reunite with Romania. In this situation, Transnistria is guaranteed the right to self-determination.

To view chronology of important historical events and dates of Moldova and Transnistria please follow this link.

3. Conflict Duration: 1990-1992

Combat action: June 19th, 1992 to July 21st, 1992 when a cease-fire agreement was signed. However, Transnistria is considered to-date to be a "frozen conflict" region.

4. Location:

Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the east. Transnistria is a region within Moldova, located between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border which covers a territory of 500 square kilometers where most of the combat action took place. Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 29 00 E

5. Actors

Local interests

Moldovan officials: the conflict is believed to be driven by foreign interests (particularly of Russia) over which Moldova has little or no influence. However, Jonathan Goodhand found in his field study that "the interests vested in the status quo on both sides are stronger than those wanting change".

Transnistrian officials: two political camps emerged. Separatists wish to maintain a "frozen conflict" status, while human rights, and free-press advocates hope for political reconciliation.

Local entrepreneurs: conflict is prolonged by the economic interests of officials on both sides in the illegal and informal trade, bribes at customs posts, and fees charged for licenses and export certificates, made possible by the situation. It is said that the annual volume of smuggling represents the loss to Moldova of the equivalent of more than two annual government budgets.[6]

General public: Mixed opinions-there are people who live in Transnistria and work in Moldova and vice versa. Others have relatives living both in Transnistria and Moldova. Many mayors in the north remain in contact and co-operate economically, based on pre-independence political and administrative ties. Links have been created and supported by third-party mediation processes and some economic co-operation occurs between local and regional officials in the two parts. [6]

External interests

The Transnistria talks follow a “5-plus-2” format, referring to the five principal participants involved in the negotiations – Transnistria, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE as mediators – plus the United States and the European Union as observers.

Russia: Russian policy under Vladimir Putin is not yet clear, but Russian security interests will certainly continue to be present. Russian involvement in this conflict is also fed by the Russian interest of preventing Moldova from becoming too Western-oriented.

Ukraine: some view the Ukraine's new push for closer ties with European institutions (NATO and EU) as motivating an interest in being perceived as helpful in resolving the conflict. It clearly has a stake in preventing a new war on its border; for example, in 1992, it took in 72,000 refugees from Transnistria.[6]

Romania: One of the countries indirectly interested in the conflict is Romania whose main objective is to enter the EU in 2007. The geographic position of Romania from a strategic point of view makes Romania a very interesting consideration in NATO and EU agreements of security. This strong desire to be part of EU makes the Romanian government worried about its proximity to a conflict region. Another important consideration is the security pact with NATO and the compromise to guarantee peace in the area. [4]

Recently Romanian President Traian Basescuhas also underlined the necessity of launching a new European project-creating a Black Sea Euroregion. Therefore, Romania is interested in the unification of Transnistria and Moldova and further European integration of Moldova. Transnistria-Moldova relations involve two states and one nation, therefore Traian Basescu compared current status of the conflict to the example of Germany's reunification: "We have decided to support the Moldovan Republic's efforts to abide by democratic norms and contribute to the consolidation of regional security. We believe the European Union should provide the Moldovan Republic with an evolution similar to that for the Western Balkans."[25]

EU and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: EU is determined to keep peace in Europe (especially after the war in Yugoslavia) and also to control a number of illegal activities originating in Moldova and Transnistria (human, organ and weapon trafficking).  EU also warned Transnistrian government to impose strict sanctions: one of them being the prohibition to all members of Tiraspol (capital of Transnistria) government to travel within EU territory. EU also has a strategic interest in guaranteeing safe borders to stimulate EU investment in the region. [4]

USA: USA is supporting the idea of a federal state of Transnistria and Moldova because this would eliminate the double taxation system and would increase investment in the area. Another reason to support the idea of a federal model is to diminish the presence of Russian troops in the area and the threat of Russian control.  Another point of interest for the US is a strategic one: ending the conflict creates a possibility of establishing agreements to build military bases near the Russian border. However, at present time the US is not involved on either side of the conflict. [4]

II. Environment Aspects

6. Type of Environmental Problem


The military conflict between Transnistria and Moldova had a tremendous impact on the ecosystem of Moldova. The use of modern conventional armaments and thousands of refugees escaping the fighting through ecologically delicate forests tremendously affected the forest system of Moldova.

Table 1: Moldova Forest Profile

Forest Profile

To view Moldova's profile on forests, grasslands and drylands please refer to the Earth Trends Country Profiles.

Moldovan forests suffer from different anthropogenic factors, the most significant of them being illegal felling and livestock pasturing. There has been a steady upward trend in such abuses, particularly during the last 12 years, post Transnistria-Moldova conflict.

Figure 1: Volume of Illegal Felling

Illegal Felling

According to the official statistics generated by the Moldsilva State Forestry Association, the total volume of registered illegal felling in the forests managed by state forestry enterprises constituted 515 in 1975, 826 in 1985, 1,048 in 1990, and 7,096 cubic meters of wood in 1996. Probably, the actual volume of illegal felling is much higher.[5]

Illegal Felling Dependent almost completely on unreliable energy supplies from Russia and Transnistria, a major energy crisis initiated years of uncontrolled tree cutting (1992-1995) not only in the forests, but in nature reserves, floodplain forests, parks, and streets of large cities. Even vineyards and orchards have been cut down for fuel wood, creating serious soil erosion. The overall increase in the volume of unauthorized felling in Moldovan forests can be explained mainly by the inability of most villagers to pay for firewood needed for heating purposes. There has been a steady upward trend in illegal felling cases, particularly during the last 12 years, post Transnistria-Moldova conflict.[5]

7. Type of Habitat: Temperate

Moldova's climate is moderately continental: the summers are warm and long, with temperatures averaging about 20°C, and the winters are relatively mild and dry, with January temperatures averaging -4°C. Annual rainfall, which ranges from around 600 millimeters in the north to 400 millimeters in the south, can vary greatly; long dry spells are not unusual. The heaviest rainfall occurs in early summer and again in October; heavy showers and thunderstorms are common. Because of the irregular terrain, heavy summer rains often cause erosion and river silting.

8. Act and Harm Sites: Moldova

III. Conflict Aspects

Dispute Triggers in Transnistria-Moldova Conflict

Although having a distinctive national aspect, the Transnistria region conflict can not be defined as solely an ethnic conflict. To the extent that the conflict surfaces in Western media, it is usually portrayed as a conflict between an enclave inhabited by ethnic Russians and the largely ethnic Romanian Moldova. However, this is just not the case. The approximately 4,5 million people in the Republic of Moldova, including Transnistria, consists of approximately 60% Moldovans, 14% Ukrainians, and 13% Russians, as well as other smaller groups like the Christian Turkish Gagauz. This is not very different in Transnistria, where Moldovans make up 40%, Ukrainians 28% and Russians 23% of a population of 500,000. [23]


The causes of the conflict are complex, involving ethnic factors and, above all, maneuvering for power and wealth among elite groups.
Interethnic conflict in Moldova produced results similar to those that followed outbreaks of violence in other former republics of the Soviet Union soon after they had proclaimed their independence. The Transnistrian “frozen conflict”, so-called because no progress has been made on resolving the conflict in the past decade, mirrors other secessionist conflicts in Georgia (Abhazia, Adjaria and South Ossetia) and Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh).
There are two main sources that feed the roots of these conflicts:
(1) Russia’s post-cold-war ambitions to retain control over ex-republics through puppet regimes, and
(2) the huge profits made from illicit drugs and human trafficking and smuggling of arms from the ex-USSR military hardware depots.
The beneficiaries of such profits are the main advocates of the status quo in Transnistria, Abhazia and South Ossetia. While attempting to gain a camouflaged legalization of the secession, and eventually join these enclaves to the Russian Federation, the supporters of these regimes initiated a “confederation” project that would in reality dismantle sovereign countries like Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan.[1]
Separatism movement was used with the aim of achieving geopolitical interests that usually harmonize with criminal ones. Transnistria has become a hub for criminal activities, drug smuggling, and arms and human trafficking to Western Europe and the Middle East. [24]
The international community treats political regime of Transnistria as anti-democratic and authoritarian and considers Transnistria an outlaw state governed by criminals.

An appropriate background was necessary in order to intensify tensions in the Transnistria-Moldova Conflict:

1. Creation of a permanently unstable zone (is a part of the methodology called the controlled chaos concept). It enables causing tension on a certain territory, thus, creating possibilities for influencing states and international structures. The area of the region depends on the geo-political, geo-strategic, and geo-economic significance of the controlled region on the one hand, and on the cultural and information level typical for the region on the other.

2. Creation of serious obstacles in the implementation of the concept of the unification of Romania and the Bessarabian and Transnistrian region. Any version of such a concept stipulates the liquidation of the Russian military presence. Besides the de facto outdated but still important considerations of the military and strategic nature, the loss of control over the Bessarabian and Transnistrian region, in the eyes of the considerable Russian military and political establishment, means a kind of "official lowering of the flag" of Russia as a super-power in the so-called Eurasian conception of this term followed by latter.

3. Creation of a territory that does not comply with the internationally acknowledged norms and criteria, thus, allowing benefiting from certain economic advantages, and providing the possibility to carry out different illegal special operations.[2]

Many analysts are convinced that a key factor obstructing a settlement is the personal interests of the leaders of Transnistria and Moldova, Russia and Ukraine who profit from illegal activities that take place in Transnistria. These activities include illicit arms sales, human trafficking of women and girls and smuggling. Recently, a cache of 70 surface-to-air missile launchers disappeared from a former Soviet stockpile and officials are unable to account for their whereabouts. Moreover, there were reports that Russian troops in Chechnya used illegally produced weapons in Transnistria.[12]

Figure 2: Conflict Triggers and Outcomes


Economic triggers of the Transnistria-Moldova conflict

The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country with access to the Black Sea via the Dniester river and is situated between Romania and Ukraine. Harvard Professor of Economics Dani Rodrik believes that geography has a significant impact on a country's economic performance. Geography and lack of natural resources can also be traced back to the roots of the Transnistria-Moldova conflict. Despite, the country's chief assets of a mild climate and fertile soils (1.7 million hectares of arable land in 1991), the economic growth is stagnant, mainly because the economy is based solely on agriculture and products including vegetables, fruits, wine, grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, tobacco, beef, and milk.

The country's lack of fuels and minerals significantly increases Moldova's trade deficit and makes the country heavily reliant on Russia for fuel supplies. This dependence intensifies Russia's key role in the Transnistria-Moldova conflict. Russian energy subsidies to Transnistria, estimated to be worth approximately $20 million annually, are almost the equivalent of the budget of the Transnistrian government. [23] The dependence of Moldova on energy supplies from Russia provides the latter with further political leverage. In addition, some experts have expressed concern about alleged Russian efforts to extend its hegemony over Moldova through manipulation of Moldova's relationship with its breakaway Transnistria region and energy supplies. The strategic importance of Transnistria region to Moldova can also be attributed to the energy dependence of Moldova: 90% of power and 100% of power transformers are produced in Transnistria. Moreover, Transnistria's authorities have frequently disrupted the flow of fuels into Moldova from Russia and Ukraine.[10]

Environmental triggers of the Transnistria-Moldova conflict: Fertile Soils

Roughly three-fourths of the land area of Moldova or around 2.5 million ha is covered with chernozem (black earth, a variety of soil rich in organic matter in the form of humus) which is Moldova's main natural resource and the main reason for the agricultural orientation of the country's economy. No other country in the world has such a high share of chernozems. Throughout the long history of agricultural development on Moldovan lands, the natural process of soil erosion has been accelerated by improper agricultural practices and unsustainable soil management including inappropriate cultivation methods, the destruction of original natural vegetation, clean cultivation, overgrazing, excessive fertilization and irrigation and many others.

It has been estimated that at least 1,500,000 ha or around 59% of Moldovan agricultural lands are threatened with erosion. In some regions of the country, as much as 95% of agricultural land area can be eroded. At present, the area of eroded soil is over 850,000 ha, or one-third of agricultural lands, including two-thirds of arable land. More than 350,000 ha of agricultural land is seriously affected by erosion, which resulted in the 40-60% loss of soil productivity. The eroded area grows by 0.5-1% a year. The annual loss of fertile soil particles and humus amounts to about 20-25 million tons and 600,000 tons, respectively. No doubt, soil erosion has long been recognized as a major environmental problem in Moldova.[5] Considering the facts of the fast rate of the soil erosion, the expansion of the fertile soils territory is vital to sustain the agricultural output and the fragile economic growth. In Transnistria, chernozems (fertile soils) occupy more than 90% of the total land area. Therefore, the fertile soils of the Transnistria region represent strategic agricultutral interests of Moldova.

9. Type of Conflict: Civil War

10. Level of Conflict: Intrastate

The violence broke out in the fall of 1990. The Transnistrian "Republican Guard" began to take over police stations, administrative bodies, schools, radio stations and newspapers. On December 13th, 1991 Moldovan police for the first time returned fire in defending the regional government building in Dubossary. The clashes renewed on March 1st, 1992. All efforts among Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania to mediate the conflict failed. President Mircea Snegur declared a state of emergency on March 28th, 1992. However, the conditions took a sharp turn to the worse in May of 1992 as the government made an effort to disarm the paramilitary formations and escalated into a full-scale civil war in the city of Bendery on June 19th, 1992. After two days' fierce fighting, the Moldovan units were driven out from the city. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur declared on June 22nd, 1992 that "we are at war with Russia".

On July 21st, 1992, an agreement was signed in Moscow between the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation on principles of a peaceful solution of the armed conflict in the Transnistrian region of Moldova. The agreement provided for an immediate ceasefire and the creation of a demilitarized security zone between the parties, 10 km left and right of the Dniestr, including also the city of Bendery. The trilateral peacekeeping troops (5 Russian, 3 Moldovan and 2 Transnistrian battalions) began deployment on July 29th, 1992.

11. Fatality Level of Dispute (military and civilian fatalities)

Short but bloody conflict resulted in more than 700 deaths, 1,000 wounded and 100,000 refugees. The detailed timeline of the events preceding the outbreak of combat actions can be further viewed here.

dead coffin injured bullet crying

IV. Environment and Conflict Overlap

12. Environment-Conflict Link and Dynamics:

Aside from ethnic, economic and security reasons, Transnistria-Moldova conflict can be depicted in the following diagram:

Diagram 1: Environment-Conflict Link and Dynamics

Environmental  Diagram

13. Level of Strategic Interest: State and Regional

For most of the duration of armed dispute in Transnistria, the level of strategic interest was State and Regional. The conflict mostly concerned separatist movement of Transnistria and the Moldovan government and army. Today the conflict borders on a multilateral level of strategic interest because of the conflict settlement involvement of Russia, Romania, Ukraine, EU, and the US.

14. Outcome of Dispute: Stalemate

Despite the fact that on July 21st, 1992 a cease-fire agreement was signed, the Council of Europe recognizes Transnistria as a "frozen conflict" region.

July 21st, 1992 agreement signed in Moscow between the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation provided for an immediate ceasefire and the creation of a demilitarized security zone between the parties, 10 km left and right of the Dniester River, including also the city of Bendery.

The agreement set out principles for a peaceful solution of the conflict, including:

Agreement also provided for trilateral peacekeeping forces, consisting of 5 Russian, 3 Moldovan and 2 Transnistrian battalions. However, this agreement violates the international laws of peacekeeping. According to international law, peacekeeping forces must be composed of neutral forces. Despite this inconsistency with international laws, the peacekeeping troops began deployment on July 29th, 1992. The cease-fire has largely been observed until the present, although numerous incidents in the security zone guarded by the trilateral forces have been alleged by both sides.

Another proposal for reconciliation of the conflict is a so-called Primakov Plan (September, 2000). It called for the creation of a "common state" made up of "federative and confederative" ideas but weighed heavily toward Transnistria's goals. Under this draft each side would be allowed to maintain its own constitution, legislative, executive, and judicial bodies, flag, coat of arms, and national anthem. Each would also have its own army, security police, and regular police that would not be able to operate on the other's territory without their consent. The common state would have jurisdiction over foreign policy, economic policy, and border guards with no internal customs.

At first both sides strongly denounced the plan, with Moldova saying it could not agree to the country's "federalization" and Transnistria claiming that any rapprochement must be between virtually independent states.[16]

Recent Developments:

In the summer of 2004, the Transnistrian authorities forcibly closed six schools that taught Moldovan language using the Latin script. About 3,400 enrolled children were affected by this measure and the teachers and parents who opposed the closures were arrested. During the crisis, the Moldovan government decided to create a blockade that would isolate the autonomous republic from the rest of the country. The blockade was ineffective because of a lack of cooperation from Ukraine's government. Transnistria retaliated by a series of actions meant to destabilize the economic situation in Moldova, in particular, by cutting the power supply from the power plants, which caused power outages in parts of Moldova.

Moldova's viewpoint of solution: departing from previous plan to include Transnistria as a province of Moldova. Chisinau now proposes forming a federation with Transnistria with conditionalities attached - retirement of the Russian army and demilitarization of Transnistria.

Transnistria now supports the idea of a federal state: two equal states and a common parliament formed by federative organs of power. Each state would have their own customs authority, army and departments dealing with licensing, trade and industry. This is one of the most important point of negotiation for Transnistria, due to the fact that each time investors try to implement economical activities in Transnistria they have to suffer a double tax system, paying for exports and license two times: one toTransnistria and another one to Moldova that do not recognize the authority of Transnistria. Transnistria has also suggested that the official languages should be Russian, Moldavian and Ukrainian.

Ukraine proposed a seven-point plan in May of 2005 by which the separation of Transnistria and Moldova would be settled through a negotiated settlement and free elections. Under the plan, Transnistria would remain an autonomous region of Moldova.

Strategies to resolve the conflict:

Members of Moldovan civil society proposed 3D Strategy, a plan that provides specific policy recommendations for governments and multilateral organizations, and provides citizens with the opportunity to have input in the future viability of their country. The plan calls for the implementation of three principles:

Demilitarization-withdrawal of the Russian troops and decommissioning of military plants and disarmament of the Transnistrian military and security forces;

Decriminalization-curbing and suppressing the rampant contraband, arms and human trafficking, and other criminal activities;

Democratization-ensuring a free flow of information and freedom of speech; implementing international human rights standards; and promoting rule of law.

The success of this strategy will depend not only on the political will of the government of Moldova; it also needs the support and engagement of the West-the EU, the OSCE and the United States-and Moldova’s neighbors-Ukraine, Romania and Russia. All of these parties have a vested interest in ensuring a climate of regional security and stability.
The 3D Strategy outlines key objectives to be met by 2012. They include expanding negotiation talks to encompass the EU, the US and Romania, in addition to the current roster of Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and Moldova, and removing negotiators from the Transnistrian leadership. The plan also recommends establishing an International Executive Council that would monitor progress toward settling the conflict, and an International Civil Provisional Administration to help govern Moldova’s eastern districts. In addition, the 3D Strategy calls for assigning Tiraspol special status as a free economic zone with rights to self-government under a free-city model.[1]

V. Related Information and Sources

15. Related ICE Cases associated with Territorial Disputes:

Territorial dispute over rivers and water territory:

Conflict between Israel and Lebanon over the Litani River: LITANI

In 1980 war erupted between Iran and Iraq over control of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway: IRANIRAQ

Political conflicts between Egypt and Sudan over sharing of the Nile waters: NILE and BLUENILE

Conflict between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, both Southern Indian States, over Cauvery River for water supply: CAUVERY

The struggle for fresh water in the Middle East as a primary cause of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war: JORDAN

Territorial dispute over mineral resources:

Conflict between Chad and Libya over uranium deposits: AOUZOU

The territorial dispute between the former Soviet Union and China can be traced back to the 17th century which was triggered by rumors of fur, gold, and silver: USSURI

Territorial dispute over oil resources:

The 1982 war over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands between Argentina and Britain over oil reserves within Islands' territorial waters: FALK

The province of Aceh has a long tradition of resisting the Indonesian central government in Jakarta. This resistance began as a religious movement, but acquired a different tone once Mobil Oil Indonesia (MOI) discovered a vast wealth of oil and natural gas deposits in Lhok Seumawe, North Aceh in 1971: ACEH

Territorial dispute over land:

Armed dispites between the Peru and Ecuador for over one hundred and fifty years over The Cordillera del Condor: PERUEC

Conflict between El Salvador and Honduras over lack of land: SOCCER

Territorial dispute over culture, religion and ethnic nationalism:

On April 10, 1998 Russia cut oil exports through Latvia in a dispute over the discrimination of the ethnic Russians in Latvia: LATVIAOIL

Territorial dispute between India and China for Arunachal Pradesh region over culture and religion: INDIA-CHNA

The civil war in the Sudan is routinely characterized as a conflict between Muslims and Christians, Arabs and Africans, or North and South. Religion, ethnicity, economic and regional issues are the key triggers of the conflict: SUDAN

Ethnic dispute in West Kalimantan between the Christian Dayaks and the Moslem Madurese. The conflict commenced mainly as a result of the Indonesian Government's "transmigration plan." This program, which began in the 1930's, moved people from the populated islands such as Java (Madura Island), to the less populated islands of Irian Jaya and Kalimantan: KALIMAN

Territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh region, located in Azerbaijan: NAGORNO

Territorial dispute between Georgia and Russia. Ossetia's territory currently straddles the political divide between North Ossetia-Alania in Russia, and South Ossetia in Georgia. The Ossetians consider themselves to be a separate ethnic group from either the Georgians or the Russians: OSSETIA

Possible venues for further research of territorial disputes:

Finnish Karelia, Petsamo, Salla, Kuusamo, some islands of Gulf of Finland: Russia and Finland (not governmental level debate)
Golan Heights: Syria and Israel (Shebaa Farms claimed by Lebanon and controlled by Israel)
Hans Island: Canada and Denmark
Ivangorod: Russia and Estonia
Olivenza: Spain and Portugal
Pechorsky District of the Pskov Oblast: Russia and Estonia
Pedra Branca: Singapore and Malaysia
Pytalovsky District of the Pskov Oblast: Russia and Latvia
Sabah (North Borneo): Philippines and Malaysia
Snake Island: Ukraine and Romania
Tromelin: France and Mauritius
Vozrozhdeniya Island (see Aral Sea) : Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
Black Hills: United States government and the Lakota Nation
Northern Cyprus: Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Western Armenia, Van Province, Kars: Armenia and Turkey

For a complete listing of the current international disputes please consult CIA World Factbook

16. Relevant Websites and Literature

  1. 3D Plan to Address the Frozen Conflict in Transnistria, Brussels, February 18th , 2005, http://foundation.moldova.org/pagini/eng/125 and http://www.moldova.org/pagini/eng/122/

  2. Asarov, Boris, Kosovo versus Transnistria, Moldova Azi, Mar 13, 2006, http://www.azi.md/investigation?ID=38404

  3. Commission of the European Communities, Commission Staff Working Paper, European Neighborhood Policy, Country Report: Moldova, Dec 5, 2004

  4. Delgado, Talia, Transnistria, The Forgotten Conflict, Apr 23, 2005

  5. Fiodorov, Andrei , Facing Environmental Problems: the Case of the Republic of Moldova, Journal of Eurasian Research, http://www.actr.org/JER/issue6/7.htm

  6. Goodhand, Jonathan, Conflict Assessments, A Synthesis Report: Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Centre for Defense Studies King's College, University of London

  7. Hagmann, Tobias, Confronting the Concept of Environmentally Induced Conflict, Peace, Conflict and Development, Issue Six, January 2005

  8. http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Transnistria

  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria

  10. http://www.photius.com/countries/moldova/economy/moldova_economy_energy_and_fuels.html

  11. Iovu, Tudor, http://www.foto.md/persgal.php?gid=13&action=showphotos&puid=4

  12. ITAR-TASS, Trans-Dniester Region Denies Exporting Weapons to Chechnya, Feb 1, 2001

  13. LEAD, The Sustainability of Societies in Transition: Agrarian Reform and Sustainable Agriculture in Moldova, December, 2004

  14. Nantoi, Oazu, The Frozen Conflict in Transnistria: Presentation in Washington, Institute of Public Policies, Jan 14, 2005

  15. National Human Development Report - 1996, State Building and Integration of Society, Republic of Moldova

  16. Quinlan, Paul D, Moldova under Lucinschi, Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2002, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3996/is_200201/ai_n9062110/pg_5

  17. Ross, Michael, Natural Resources and Civil War: An Overview with Some Policy Options, Dec 13, 2002

  18. Skordas, Achilles, Transnistria: Another Domino on Russia's Periphery?, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Summer/Fall 2005

  19. Spanu, Vlad, Why is Moldova Poor and Economically Volatile?, Dec 21, 2004, http://foundation.moldova.org/pagini/eng/822/

  20. The Economist Print Edition, The Hazards of a Long, Hard Freeze, Aug 19, 2004

  21. Transdniestrian Conflict, Origins and Main Issues, Based on the Background Paper "The Transdniestrian Conflict in Moldova: Origins and Main Issues", CSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, Vienna, June 10, 1994, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/13611.pdf

  22. Transnistria, The Forgotten Conflict, http://www.brain-storming.info/article.php?ida=70

  23. Vahl, Marius, Borderland Europe(11): Transforming Transnistria?, Jan 9, 2005

  24. Woehrel, Steven, CRS Report for Congress, Moldova: Background and U.S. Policy, Updated March 8, 2005

  25. www.kross.ro/transdniestria_map

For use of this background, please link to GRSites

Feel free to contact me with your questions or recommendations.


Wednesday April 12, 2006 4:30 PM