Due to EU and German engagement, conflict settlement talks restarted. However, Russia and Transnistria continued to successfully resist any meaningful progress towards conflict resolution.
Transnistria is the one post-Soviet conflict where some kind of EU–Russia co-operative arrangement can be achieved. The EU’s aim is to support an agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the secessionist region of Transnistria to develop a power-sharing arrangement. In 2010, Angela Merkel took up the Transnistria issue as one of the priorities of EU–Russia security talks. This led to the resumption of formal talks within the 5+2 format between the parties to the conflict, with the assistance of the EU, Russia, Ukraine, the US and the OSCE, after a break of four and a half years. But despite this high-level push to advance conflict resolution, only token results have been achieved.
In 2011, the EU was relatively united on the issue of conflict resolution in Transnistria. It also made Transnistria one of its priorities in the Eastern Neighbourhood. Although European leaders were preoccupied with the euro crisis and had limited time for foreign-policy issues such as this, there was occasional high-level engagement from Berlin and Brussels. The creation of the EEAS has allowed the EU to streamline its diplomacy towards Moldova and on the Transnistrian issue. As a result, the post of the EU Special Representative for Moldova was abolished and his functions have been taken over by the EU delegation in Moldova and a Brussels-based senior managing director who represents the EU in the 5+2 talks. Towards the end of 2011, the EU engaged in a process of changing its formal status in the 5+2 format from an “observer” towards a fully-fledged mediator. However, such efforts have apparently not yet made Russia any more willing to play a more constructive role in the talks (see component 19).