Eu Decides Transnistrian Travel Ban

Europe-East, March 13, 2003 | Go to article overview

Eu Decides Transnistrian Travel Ban


The EU has decided to impose a Belarus-style travel ban on 17 members of the separatist regime of Igor Smirnov in Transnistria, Moldova. The move - formally decided without debate at the February 27 Justice and Home Affairs Council - is designed to promote co-operation on the part of the Transnistrian side in efforts to find a negotiated, political solution to a conflict which is a key obstacle to Chisinau's ambitions for developing closer EU ties. The Council adopted a set of conclusions, and a "common position" outlining details of the decision, including an annex of the 17 names now on the EU's travel blacklist. There is also a "joint declaration" with the US, in which the sides declare "unity of purpose" in their intention to adopt "targeted sanctions in the form of travel restrictions" according to their respective internal procedures. The EU's common position says the Union will encourage third states to adopt similar restrictions. In a separate development, the EU has decided to grant the country Euro 10.4 million to support food security.

Additional measures mooted.

The EU says that the continued obstructionism of the Transnistrian leadership and its unwillingness to change the status quo are "unacceptable". It states that the travel ban is aimed "solely" at those members of the Transnistrian regime considered to be "primarily responsible" for the lack of co-operation in finding a negotiated settlement. Number one on the list is "President" Igor Smirnov. At number two and three are his sons Vladimir and Oleg, respectively chairman of and adviser to the State Customs Committee. All three are listed as having Russian passports. The ban is to apply for a renewable 12 month period, although at the same stage the EU says it will "review its position in the light of further developments", in particular depending on progress from the Transnistrian side. The EU also says it "reserves the right to consider additional targeted restrictive measures at a later date". Sources familiar with the situation say this would mean some form of economic or trade sanctions.

Caveats and exceptions.

There are a number of caveats to the ban. It is without prejudice to "cases where a member state is bound by an obligation of international law", or is host country of the OSCE. (The Netherlands is current Chair-in-Office). Obligations of international law cover being the host country of an international intergovernmental organisation, being the host country of an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations, or where a multilateral agreement confers "privileges and immunities". …

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