The resolution of the Transdniestrian conflict is the most important and challenging task for the OSCE Mission to Moldova. Alongside Russia and Ukraine, the OSCE Mission acts as mediator in a negotiation process aimed at finding a final, comprehensive, durable settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict. The European Union and the United States joined the process as observers in autumn 2005; collectively the group (including the Sides) is known as the “5+2.”
The Mission facilitates direct meetings between the two parties and works together with them and with the mediators and observers in the multilateral settlement process. The aim of the negotiations is to find a lasting political settlement of the conflict.
In its Report No. 13 of November 1993 the Mission laid out for the first time basic principles on a special status for Transdniestria. Since then, together with the other mediators, it has tabled various proposals on a final settlement and brokered agreements on confidence-building measures and on the fundamental basis of the relationship between the two sides. The Mission has also held several conferences at which foreign, Moldovan and Transdniestrian experts discussed different models for a final settlement.
In summer 2004, the political settlement negotiation process was disrupted by a series of, at times potentially explosive, disputes between Chisinau and Tiraspol over competing powers or overlapping jurisdiction of local administrations. During this period the Mission spent a great deal of effort in addressing a range of destabilizing crises and in restarting the political settlement process, which finally resumed in October 2005. However, the process came to a halt in February, 2006 when first one side and then the other refused to attend negotiations.
Subsequently, the Mission led efforts to ensure that the 5+2 met informally to resume the path to official meetings by building confidence between the sides. This process began in autumn 2007 when the Mission brought the 5+2 together for informal consultations on the margins of a CSBM conference. Throughout 2008 and early 2009 the process of meetings on the margins of other events intensified; by late 2009 the 5+2 was able to meet in stand-alone meetings; and the Mission facilitated the opening of a new direct channel between the political representatives of the sides. On 22 September 2011, in a round of consultations in Moscow, the sides agreed to resume official 5+2 negotiations.
The process of confidence building between the sides was broadened in 2008 with the start of meetings of expert working groups of the sides on issues of mutual concern in social and economic areas. The Mission facilitates these meetings and in 2009 was instrumental in widening the process to include the law enforcement bodies of the sides.
After the cessation of hostilities in July 1992, a Joint Control Commission (JCC) was established to supervise the ceasefire in the Security Zone, i.e., the strip along the Dniestr/Nistru River that separates the two sides of the dispute. The JCC is the supervisory body for the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPF) and consists of delegations of the Russian Federation, Moldova and Transdniestria. The Mission to Moldova has been taking part in the JCC since 1994 as an observer.
The Mission's efforts in the JCC are directed towards conflict mediation, confidence-building and military transparency. In August 2003, the Mission was able to broker an agreement for the full withdrawal by the Moldovan and Transdniestrian military of armoured vehicles held by their peacekeeping forces inside the Security Zone. OSCE Mission members observed and verified all stages of this withdrawal.
The work of the JCC is challenged by several longstanding contentious issues, which require constant mediation efforts by the Mission. Many of these concern the free movement of people, goods and services and they are regularly raised by the Mission within the JCC and are discussed by the Head of Mission in his meetings with the leadership in the Transdniestrian region. In April 2006 the Mission, in close co-operation with its Russian and Ukrainian co-mediators, was able to broker an agreement which gave Moldovan farmers in the Doroţcaia area free access to their land on the Transdniestrian controlled side; that agreement has been extended annually.