Transdniestria’s Provocation or a Big Deal? What Happens on the Dniester

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RTA expert Dorin Mocanu commented on the aggravation around the Moldovan village of Varnita, which is claimed by the Tiraspol authorities

According to Mocanu, the beginning of the year in relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol promised to be calm, but in the end everything went wrong. “To be honest, the Moldovan policy is now entirely self-focused. Responsible for negotiations with the Left Bank, Deputy Prime Minister Cristina Lesnik left the office and also engaged in the election campaign. It is significant that at this moment Tiraspol took several steps, which the Moldovan authorities could not left without reaction. This is the opening of the Transdniestrian office in Moscow, as well as the decision of the region leader Krasnoselsky to create alternative administrations in Moldovan settlements, which Tiraspol considers their territory,” the expert said. Mocanu reminded that as a result of the conflict in 1992 and subsequent withdrawal of Moldovan troops and armed formations of Transdniestria, a temporary status quo established in the so-called “disputed territories”. “According to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova and the world community, Transdniestria is a legal part of Moldova. At the same time, the Transdniestrian administration adopted its basic law and claims to border villages, which are controlled by the official authorities of Chisinau. These, for example, are Cocieri, Dorotskaya, Pohrebea, also Varnita and Copanca. This is a paradoxical situation, but Tiraspol can make any decisions in this part. One never knows, but the Transdniestrian administration may adopt its ‘Law of 2005’ on the status of these villages,” says Mocanu. At the same time, the analyst believes that the actions of Tiraspol are associated with greater processes around the region. The expert believes that the Transdniestrian authorities for a reason went to the aggravation of the situation and almost open confrontation with Chisinau on the issues of disputed territories. “The Transdniestrian authorities make it clear that they have some territorial claims against Chisinau and are trying to push this issue into the agenda of negotiations, and apparently in its political part. It can be expected that now Chisinau’s attempt to proceed to final settlement this year will necessarily face the problem of territorial disputes. At the same time, it is not entirely clear why Tiraspol needs this: the Transdniestrian administration either raises the stakes or prepares the ground for a possible deal,” Mocanu says. The expert notes that a several-acts scenario unfolds around the banks of the Dniester. “Chisinau took hard the actions of Tiraspol and called an urgent meeting with representatives of the 5+2 format in the MFAEI. In theory, the provocation of the Transdniestrian leadership should have been publicly condemned, but instead the same diplomats from the EU, the US, Ukraine went to the Tiraspol Foreign Ministry for clarification. Such ‘international silence’ suggests disturbing thoughts, especially after the Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, Candu, said that Moldova will not pay a high price for the reintegration of Transdniestria. It looks as if territorial concessions are also part of the price,” Mocanu thinks. The analyst recalls that throughout 2018 experts discussed ideas about territorial exchanges between Serbia and Kosovo as a possible model for the final settlement of the conflict in the Balkans. “It seemed that after another aggravation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina at the end of last year, the solution of the Kosovo issue has been indefinitely postponed. However, the recent events around the territorial disputes of Chisinau and Tiraspol coincided with the Washington statements of the Kosovo leader Hashim Thaci on readiness for negotiations on adjusting the borders with Serbia, if it will help the final settlement of the conflict,” the expert notes. The last thing that drew attention of the RTA regular author is the position of Moscow, also mentioned by Hashim Thaci. According to the Kosovo leader, Russia has confirmed its readiness to give assent to any agreement that Serbia and Kosovo will come to. “Let me remind you that in November 2018, Putin had an open conversation with Thaci, and in this January he paid an official visit to Belgrade. Moscow makes it clear that it favors the current plan for the conflict settlement around Kosovo. The Kremlin seems to consider the model of ‘exchange’ of territories a good mechanism. The same scheme may be offered to Chisinau and Tiraspol,” Mocanu believes.