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Is it worthy ceding Transnistria to “neutral” Moldova?

Leaders of Transnistria and Moldova are set to meet this April. Accepting the support of Moscow and Brussels at the same time, Moldova’s leader will be forcing the insurgent Russian territory to unite with the country nominally led by him.

Certain political quarters in Russia “stake on” President of Moldova Igor Dodon proceeding from the algorithm “Transnistria in exchange for loyalty to Moscow.” To that end, perhaps the Moldovan president having approval rating, but lacking support of the political establishment should lead the country towards European integration like Ukrainian, Belarusian and Kazakh leaders did. Yet, these games have proved evidently inefficient.

As regards Transnistria, sovereignization of that irredenta region since 1990 would be more efficient if Moscow focused on the choice of the TMR residents yet in 2006, when 97% of them voted at a referendum for unification with Russia. Moscow should have drawn conclusions from the recent election of the Russian president that was attended by over 74,000 residents of Moldova having Russian citizenship. Most of them voted for Vladimir Putin, as after the Crimean story, they pin hopes for return to their motherland.

The only serious obstacle on the way towards “integration” of Transnistria into Moldova was the stance of the political elite, namely President Vadim Krasnoselsky. Since the very moment of his election as president, he started criticizing current Moldovan president and his cunning policy. In particular, Krasnoselsky blames Dodon for his regularly changing stance on the future of Transnistria – at first, Dodon suggested federalization of Moldova, then he promised autonomy to the Russian enclave, whereas now he speaks of the “region with a special status” like his Ukrainian friends do. As regards withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers, Dodon supported the parliament in this issue. It should be recalled that the parliament opposes the president.

Besides, all the political forces involved in the Transnistria-Moldova issue are now discussing Igor Dodon’s latest interview with europalibera.org, wherein he openly expressed his stance.

“I have always said and will repeat once again: there should not be any foreign troops in a neutral country. This issue should be resolved inevitably with the political settlement of the Transnistrian issue, strengthening of neutrality status etc,” the president said. “I have said this repeatedly and discussed this issue in Russia for many times. So, I am convinced that the issue will be resolved as soon as we achieve a consensus, the more so as it is not so hard to do it.”

He added that 2000s are in the past and “Russia can no longer put its plan on the table making Moldova accept it.” According to the president, what happened in Moldova during the last months was good, though many called it a concession by Moldova. “There was no concession. What concession are you speaking about if higher education certificates of Transnistria are sealed by the Republic Moldova seals? It is a concession by Transnistria!” the president said in the interview. He highlighted that number plates of vehicles are also gradually brought into the single space. “It is a specific step.” Igor Dodon believes that after elections in Moldova, the situation will clear up certainly and the West and Russia will start searching areas of common interests, countries where they can negotiate. “Why I am so optimistic about 2019 and the following years? Because, resolution of Transnistria issue may become a success story for Russia and the West. I would be very happy if it happens,” Dodon told europaliberata.org.

As one can see from the interview, Dodon is full of hopes that Russia will cede the Russian republic “flavored with special status” just for a concession in its relations with the West. If Dodon says this, it means that he feels certain support by the West. Recall that European envoys have been visiting Transnistria quite frequently recently. For instance, on March 30, OSCE Office in Chisinau hosted a meeting of task forces on transport and road infrastructures. The sides worked on the mechanism of integrating Transnistrian transportation into the international road traffic and agreed to hold the next meeting in Tiraspol, on April 2. Earlier, ex-minister of foreign affairs of Italy, Special Representative of OSCE CiO for Transnistria Franco Frattini travelled to Transnistria and made the following speech after his visit:

“This year (2018 – author’s note) has the potential to be historic for the Transnistrian Settlement Process, with agreements on the remaining priority issues in the so-called ‘package of eight’ not only reached, but also implemented along with the November agreements. As these things move forward in the coming weeks, I look forward to calling a ‘5+2’ meeting this May in Rome, to highlight the Sides’ successes,” concluded Frattini.

Without Moscow’s support, the Moldovan government would not cherish hopes for “swallowing” the land that insisted on its right to independence during the bloody war of 1992. They expected such support hinting at visit of Grigory Karasin, first deputy foreign minister of Russia, to Chisinau. And, it took place.

However, “something went wrong” and the global agenda overshadowed the Moldavian regional agenda. As a result, five Russian diplomats were expelled from Moldova following Karasin’s visit. Blindly following that “all-human trend,” Moldova showed who really manages it and how Dodon fails to control the situation. As the phrase goes, if it weren't for bad luck, there would be no luck at all.

Brussels and Moscow stake on forthcoming elections in Moldova. Of course, Russia hopes for victory of “pro-Russian” Igor Dodon. Accidentally on purpose, someone has played the triumph card against Krasnoselsky and now his opponents, the supporters of ex-president of Transnistria Yevgeny Shevchuk, who is currently wanted, post video on Youtube telling about corruption and crime rate in Transnistria that is happening allegedly under patronage of Krasnoselsky, who, as they say, is backed by the largest business holding in the region, “Sherif.”

What, in fact, happens there is yet to be found out, the more so as business and politics in the southern periphery of the Russian world have always been interconnected. At the same time, it is high time to start acting within one’s own national interests like Americans do. They have achieved domination in the world also due to their ability to deal with “their own sons of bitches.” As to ceding peripheral territories, it has never helped strengthen the state. It has always been the first step towards its collapse.

Alexey Toporov

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