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Tempering expectations: EU involvement with the Transdniestrian conflict

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Often portrayed as one of the most resolvable conflicts, home to hundreds of peacekeepers and various reported human rights abuses, the Transdniestrian conflict (just 100 kilometers from the EU's external border) is an interesting case for those interested in European security. For many years, negotiations for a political settlement have taken place under the OSCE's auspices. In recent years, however, the EU has emerged as a central actor in this process and seems to have taken a leadrole. This gives rise to the question of whether an effective EU strategy to this conflict is in place and, in light of discussions of civilian or normative power, if this demonstrates a distinct European approach to conflict management. Based on a qualitative research in which the author analyzed the EU's relevant policies with his findings on the ground in both Moldova and Transdniestria, it is argued that the EU has a huge potential to thaw this conflict. Yet, where OSCE diplomacy or (unilateral) Russian intervention have all failed thus far, also the EU is increasingly having difficulty to navigate its way on the patchy road to conflict settlement for Transdniestria. This study not only implies that geopolitical interests remain dominant for Transdniestria, but also asserts that the scope or use of normative power should be reconsidered in such, more antagonistic, environments.


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