The leaders of Moldova and unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transdnistria) Igor Dodon and Vadim Krasnoselski held a working meeting in the city of Bender on 4 January 2017.
During Moldovan President’s first visit to the breakaway territory in eight years, the parties expressed their willingness for compromise and identified a number of issues requiring urgent solution.
“Most importantly, we established good contacts; there is openness and willingness to compromise on both sides. The target is set: the citizens on both sides of the Dniester should see concrete results in 2017. I am sure that we will make it together. […] There are all prerequisites for 2017 to be successful for joint work on improvement of the relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol,” Igor Dodon said following the talks.
Moreover, he expressed hope that at the next meeting, the parties will be able to identify “the specific terms for implementation of the decisions that will be agreed upon.”
In turn, the head of Transnistria stressed the importance of finding a compromise to solve the socio-economic problems.
“We must create conditions so people were not held hostage to politics, and decisions taken by politicians were for the people’s benefit. We must respect people in Transnistria and Moldova and search for a compromise in any case,” Vadim Krasnoselski stated.
Meanwhile, the political problems, in particular, the status of Transnistria, were not on the table of talks.
“I have always said and I do not hide the fact that the guarantee of our security is our independence. We have a lot of priority goals, which we have already identified and which we will work on now,” Transnistrian leader said.
Commenting on the working meeting results, Alexander Rahr, Research Director of the German-Russian Forum, reminded that the visit was part of the schedule of the newly elected Moldovan President, who is aimed at reunification of the country.
“In my opinion, this will be carried out without any enforcement, threats or blackmail, but through the new suggestions, new opportunities and arrangements. […] Sooner or later there will be created a workable federation in Moldova, which does not exist yet,” the expert told PenzaNews, suggesting that there will be no rapid results as the negotiations are going to be long and complex.
“However, there may occur some changes in the country based on mutual respect, mutual understanding and new agreements that will ensure Moldova’s greater stability and economic prosperity between the EU and the Eurasian Union, and then will lead to the new form of statehood,” the analyst said.
He also added that there is no common economy and financial system in Transnistria and Moldova now.
“Transnistria lives its own life with its own rules and laws, having close ties with the Russian Federation, while Moldova is focused partly on the European Union and partly on the Eurasian Union. It is necessary to establish some common forms of economic interaction, and it requires federal or confederal mechanisms of economic cooperation. The both parties need a common financial system,” Alexander Rahr said.
According to him, in the future the two leaders will be able to discuss the possibilities of joint work on the Eurasian economic market and in the European Union.
“People from Transnistria will also benefit from a visa-free regime with the EU, and they do not refuse from this, it is a big advantage. The parties just need to hold an important conversation. It is an advantage that the negotiations between Moldova and Transnistria are currently carried out by the president who has always stressed that he wants to stay with Russia. All the previous Moldovan leaders in the past 25 years did not do that, and Transnistria always had a certain alertness and blockade of rapprochement with Chisinau: there was a suspicion that it will sooner or later begin a rapprochement with Romania. Now, in my opinion, everything points to the likely convergence [of Moldova] with Russia, not rejecting the cooperation with the EU. In this changed situation Transnistria will be able to negotiate with the new government in Chisinau,” Research Director of the German-Russian Forum said.
In turn, Michael Emerson, associate senior research fellow at Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), former Ambassador of the EU to Russia, noted that the atmosphere of the meeting was cordial, which was a significant improvement over recent times.
“However the substantive issues discussed were all quite technical matters of local interest. No big, economic or geo-political stuff,” the analyst said.
He also expressed uncertainty that Transnistria would implement all of its obligations concerning economic cooperation with Moldova and the EU.
“Looking ahead it remains to be seen whether Tiraspol implements its agreement with Chisinau and the EU over its future economic relations. Tiraspol’s economy is largely dependent on European markets and the agreement contained provisions for basic free trade with the EU. President [Igor] Dodon however has in the past made speeches about Moldova joining the Eurasian Economic Union, which would be very damaging for Chisinau as well as breaking up Tiraspol’s trade deal with the EU,” Michael Emerson explained.
At the same time, he reminded that Moldovan President does not control the parliament and government of the country.
“So there is the double uncertainty now over first what [Igor] Dodon would like to do, and second on whether this could be accepted by the parliament and government in Chisinau,” the expert said.
Meanwhile, the independent Latvian journalist Aleksey Vesyoliy stressed that to address the most pressing socio-economic problems, the parties should first listen to one another and take into account the citizens’ interests.
“People on both sides are looking for new jobs, decent working conditions, social security. It is necessary to change the situation in the field of small business, where social mobility and start-ups support need to be developed. For joint projects, legal framework should be put in order,” the expert said.
According to him, social stability is only possible when all the mechanisms of civil interaction between the conflict parties are on.
“It is impossible to go without people’s diplomacy. If you look at the situation broadly, the interests of the people from both sides are very similar. For decent working conditions, it is important to establish a social dialogue between the state and the citizens, to reorganize the existing trade unions and to include them into the discussion process, because they can be a reliable partner for the implementation of this goal,” said Aleksey Vesyoliy, adding that strengthening of civil institutions will contribute to solving social and economic problems.
From his viewpoint, the meeting contributes to strengthening the Moldovan statehood and stability of the region.
“Compromise is difficult to reach, but that’s what the art of diplomacy is all about: to find a solution that will ensure implementation of policies which take into account real interests of Transnistrian and Moldovan citizens,” the analyst said.
According to him, the both parties need deserving young people who are ready to take action and can resolve conflicts, wishing to live and work in their home country.
“Large investment projects may involve investments in building city-forming enterprises in those regions falling behind economic development, as well as creation of enterprises chains on both sides of the Dniester River to promote economic integration,” the Latvian expert said.
In turn, Anatoly Dirun, Scientific Leader, Tiraspol School of Political Studies, also noted that the meeting between the two senior officials of Tiraspol and Chisinau took place on the initiative of the Moldovan president.
“Igor Dodon has previously dropped some ‘curtseys’ to the new head of Transnistria, thus breaking the patterns and stereotypes. In particular, he published his theses on possible conflict settlement, which included three main positions: the rejection of the EU membership, the rejection of NATO membership, and a referendum on the new Constitution among citizens of the right and the left bank of the Dniester,” the analyst said.
At the same time, Transnistrian comments on the first meeting results were quite restrained: they called the talks introductory and expressed the wish that they will then serve as a basis for problems solving, he said.
“This precautionary approach is connected with several difficulties in the relations between Transnistria and Moldova, the main of which is a different vision of the negotiations purpose. Chisinau creates and then solves economic problems of Tiraspol in order to gradually involve Transnistria in its legal space, while Tiraspol seeks to use the negotiations for solving problems and strengthening its statehood,” said Anatoly Dirun, adding that such a tactic negates the possibility of a breakthrough.
He also reminded that presidential powers in Moldova are much narrower than that in Transnistria, which makes the practical implementation of Igor Dodon’s initiatives more difficult.
“However, today the leaders of Tiraspol and Chisinau have a set of documents the position on which has been mostly agreed by the working groups of both Transnistria and Moldova. If such an active work of senior Moldovan leadership is transferred to the solution of these working moments, we’ll see, not great, but a step forward,” the expert concluded.
Moldova is a parliamentary republic in South-Eastern Europe located between Romania and Ukraine. President is head of the state. Its central legislative body is the unicameral parliament. The capital city is Chisinau.
Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria) is an unrecognized state on the left and right banks of the river Dniester, 60% of its citizens are Russian and Ukrainian. It is recognized a part of Moldova by the international community.
Transnistria sought to secede from Moldova even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, fearing that on the wave of nationalism, the country will join Romania.
In 1992, after a failed attempt of the Moldovan authorities to solve the problem of Transnistria by force, it actually run out of Chisinau’s control.