First Signals from the New Meeting of Dodon and Krasnoselsky

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Dmitry Astakhov The fifth meeting of Moldovan President Igor Dodon and Transdniestrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky took place on the territory of Transdniestria. As reported on the website of the head of Transdniestria, Igor Dodon was received in the Novo-Nyametsky Monastery in Chiţcani (Kitskany). The permanent RTA author, Dmitry Astakhov, sees a certain symbolism in this and recalls that political scandals involving the President of Moldova broke out around the monastery in Chiţcani (Kitskany) in the early 2000s. Dmitry Astakhov, RTA: The current meeting of Dodon and Krasnoselsky has several important differences from previous discussions. The first thing that caught the eye of the experts was mismatch of views of the leaders of Moldova and Transdniestria. Dodon, apparently, scrambled to announce the next meeting, especially on Transdniestrian territory. Krasnoselsky, in response, called such a dialogue “inexpedient,” because the Moldovan president has no agenda. In the end, the meeting did take place, but before that the Transdniestrian leader made it clear that he would communicate on important topics for Tiraspol. Colleagues in the expert community note that there is an element of “doing a favor” from Tiraspol in this last meeting this year. The unrecognized republic has made it clear several times that the negotiation process with Chisinau lies within the scope of activities of the Moldovan government and takes place at the level of political representatives of the parties. Dialogue with Dodon is a symbolic, but not very productive format for Transdniestria, since Tiraspol maintains contacts with Chisinau and Moscow directly. On the contrary, regular discussions with the Transdniestrian authorities are important for the leader of the Socialists. The President of the Republic of Moldova considers himself the first Moldovan leader in many years, who is really open to dialogue with Transdniestria. It is obvious that every meeting with Krasnoselsky is a point in the Transdniestrian portfolio of Dodon. Anyway, the Transdniestrian leadership keeps a distance: Krasnoselsky speaks about Transdniestria’s independence before and at meetings with Dodon, which noticeably confuses the socialist leader. It happened also the day before this meeting at the press conference of the head of Transdniestria: Krasnoselsky stated that he would not discuss political issues with Dodon and stressed that the Transdniestrian side had developed the agenda of the meeting. The Moldovan presidential office did not comment on this. A trip to the Novo-Nyametsky Monastery is a clear message and the next step of the same type. This monastery is in many ways a cornerstone in relations between Moldova and Transdniestria. The monastery is located on the actual administrative territory of the “TMR” on the right bank of the Dniester, but is subordinate to the Chisinau diocese. Moreover, the abbot of the monastery is the Metropolitan of Chisinau and All Moldova Vladimir. Although the Tiraspol-Dubossary and Chisinau diocese belong to the Orthodox Church of Moldova, their territorial division repeat the political border between Transdniestria and Moldova, but not in the case of the Novo-Nyametsky Monastery. In 2002, the then Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin tried to get in the Chiţcani (Kitskany) Monastery, but he was not allowed into Transdniestria by the border officers of the unrecognized republic. There was a scandal: Metropolitan Vladimir himself was coming with Voronin, who had to return ‘for the company’ together with the president. In response to accusations of provocation, Tiraspol argued that any trips on the territory of Transdniestria, even if on church issues, should be coordinated. Igor Dodon apparently took into account the mistakes of his predecessor and former leader, and came to Chiţcani (Kitskany) Monastery only at the invitation of the Transdniestrian side. The situation looks not only as a gesture of goodwill on the part of the Transdniestrian leadership, but also as evidence of the rather soft position of the Moldovan presidency. Experts attribute this to the repeated mistakes of both Dodon himself and the PSRM on the Transdniestrian track – Tiraspol has recently accused the Socialists of trying to obstruct the law on telecommunications, which should solve a long-term problem around the Transdniestrian mobile operator. Another problem could be the nomination by the PSRM of its candidates for elections in constituencies from Transdniestria. Tiraspol denies legitimacy of these deputies, and the story of single-member constituencies of Transdniestria could be another reason to criticize the PSRM and Dodon. It turns out that Dodon’s readiness to accept the Tiraspol’s ‘rules of the game’ only confirms that the parties are not equally interested in the dialogue.