The OSCE in Moldova: From Confidence Building to Conflict Settlement?

The OSCE has had a permanent presence in the Republic of Moldova since 1993. More than 25 years later, the Organisation is still present and active in the country, yet this quarter-century of activity has not brought about a settlement of the conflict in the Transdniestrian region. While this might lead some to question the effectiveness of the OSCE as a mediator in the conflict settlement process, it is beyond doubt that the conflict in the Transdniestrian region is indeed ‘frozen’ with little danger of recurrence and few imminent prospects of a settlement. I argue that the OSCE’s success in building confidence between the sides has come at the justifiable price of establishing, or ‘freezing’, a status quo that is amenable to, and often in need of, CBMs which further consolidate the current situation and entrench the interests underpinning it. Given the geopolitical dynamics around the conflict in the Transdniestrian region and in comparison to other protracted conflicts in the OSCE region, this is not a bad accomplishment. In fact, the OSCE-facilitated confidence-building measures, and their recently much increased effectiveness, could prove a crucial catalyst towards genuine conflict settlement in the future.