Another bone of contention within the ruling coalition can be considered the evaluation of events known as the ‘Transdniestrian conflict’.
Sergey Cheban, RTA
Prime Minister of Moldova, Maia Sandu, is on her first official foreign visit. The destination is Bucharest – the Moldovan Prime Minister has already met with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. On the eve of the visit, the context of the first Sandu’s international trip was tainted with public assessment of the Transdniestrian conflict in 1992 by the Foreign Minister of Moldova Nicu Popescu: also being in Bucharest, the official called it a “civil war”, which caused indignation of the patriotic circles of Moldova.
Truth be told, nor Popescu neither his Romanian counterpart Theodore Melescanu should have raised the subject of Transdniestria on the eve of the Sandu’s arrival in Bucharest. The long-term and largely dead-end problem of the Left Bank remains a sensitive point for any configuration of the Moldovan authorities, which no matter how hard you press – it still hurts. Viewpoints on the armed confrontation on the Dniester in 1992 are almost always opposite: during the Plahotniuc times Chisinau categorically called it armed aggression of Russia. Moscow always takes notes of such accusations, never forget and particularly forgive, as the example of the former leader of the Democratic Party clearly shows. Tiraspol insists on their independence and calls the events of 27 years ago armed aggression from the neighboring country, so in the old days they would even criticize the thesis of Popescu about the “civil war”. In Moldova itself, the concerned public is sure that they fought with the separatists supported by Moscow. Simply put, there is no perfect definition that everyone would like.
The situation was aggravated by the confused statement of the Romanian Foreign Minister about the illegal presence of Russian troops on the Dniester. Usually the Kremlin does not forget to comment on such things, but this time it did not exacerbate the issue on the eve of the Sandu’s visit: after all, Moscow itself is interested in the stability of the new government in Moldova.
Today, Nicu Popescu explained that he does not deny the military aggression of Russia, “which armed forces supported Tiraspol”. It turned out, in general, a common position, although an aftertaste remains. However, the issue is still thorny for future relations within the ruling parliamentary coalition. Especially as the Transdniestrian direction in the new government is assigned to socialists and team of the President Igor Dodon who is especially delicate in estimates of the armed conflict on the Dniester.
By and large, all disputes over the events of 1992 focus on unimportant things and are attempts to place responsibility for bloodshed entirely on one of the parties involved. Chisinau is all the more confident in playing the role of the victim in the conflict, and here Moldovan politicians have one voice. However, the devil, as usual, is in the details, and it is extremely impractical for the officials of the new government to go into them.
The team of the ACUM bloc absolutely cannot hype the topic of the Russian military on the Dniester, which before the eyes of partners from Russia can very quickly make the statements by the new pro-European politicians equated with those by the defeated Plahotniuc’s PDM. Moreover, political representative in the negotiations with Tiraspol, Vasile Sova, though considered the ‘man of the President’, still reports to pro-European Maia Sandu.
Igor Dodon, who was given the Transdniestrian track, will have to reconsider the rhetoric towards Transdniestria, as now his statements are also statements of the whole new government. Igor Dodon is better not to discuss Russian troops at all, as Moscow will not understand whatsoever.
The main question is how soon all these ‘red lines’ for Moldovan politicians will intersect with the approved pro-European course of Moldova, which in the view of the Western partners of the country is inseparably linked with getting rid of the ‘Russian threat’. The current example has shown that Bucharest and Moscow are able to say nothing at the right time: controversy around Popescu’s statements in the EU and Russia have been successfully ignored. However, it is unclear how long the Kremlin and Europe will maintain consensus and how soon the pro-European and pro-Russian coalition camps will have to agree on a ‘common’ position on Transdniestria. If, of course, it is possible at all: one way or another, the Chisinau’s course of conduct in relation to the Left Bank can become a very real bone of contention for the new government of the Republic of Moldova.
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