Igor Dodon in September will visit the European Union, Russia and the United States: the President’s shuttle diplomacy should ‘fasten’ the international consensus on the future of Moldova and Transdniestria
In September, the Republic of Moldova expects a burst of international activity: scheduled visits of foreign guests and trips of the President Igor Dodon.
As you know, the foreign policy guidelines of the head of state are inspired by three goals: balanced cooperation with the West and the East, guaranteed international neutrality and reintegration of the country. In order to realize his plans, the Moldovan leader is constantly looking for an international consensus as it seems to him, this is a key component of success. From time to time Dodon says to some journalists that it has already been reached, others that it will be in a little while. However, now it is much easier for the President to ‘seek consensus’, because the noticeably increased international legitimacy opens doors for him both in the East and in the West. So, in September, the head of state will visit three key points on the geopolitical map: Brussels, the United States and Moscow.
On September 4, Igor Dodon will pay an official visit to the EU capital, where he will meet with the leadership of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Secretary General of NATO. Ahead of the trip, the Moldovan President gave an extended interview to the authoritative German newspaper Der Spiegel, expressing his position on relations with the European Union, which he plans to discuss with EU and NATO officials. Along with this, for the first time there was information that the presidential office has prepared a concept of a special status for Transdniestria in the form of “strong autonomy for the region”. The statement has alarmed civil society, much of which saw the Dodon project as an attempt to camouflage the federal status of the Left Bank that is something the Kremlin has long insisted on.
In fact, it seems that the main addressee of Dodon’s ideas, most likely approved in Moscow, should be European politicians and, above all, Berlin. Germany is an important puzzle in the overall picture of the international consensus, and even the choice for the presidential interview of a German newspaper is not a coincidence. The achievement of shared Russian-German vision on Moldova, apparently, is seen in the team of Igor Dodon as the first stage of a difficult dialogue with Washington. After all, the final position of the latter will probably determine the fate of the initiatives of the presidential office.
According to some reports, the results of the trip of Igor Dodon’s advisers to the United States this winter left many answers, primarily because of the special nature of American foreign policy. Washington has sufficient international power not to make unnecessary commitments unless it concerns its strategic partners or allies in the North Atlantic Alliance. Therefore, attempts of Igor Dodon to convince the United States to ensure Moldovan neutrality and curtail its military-strategic activities in the region are over-ambitious.
Following his visit to Brussels on September 7, the President of Moldova will hold a long-awaited meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. At the meeting, they might make sure they’re on the same page before Igor Dodon’s key trip to the United States, which is scheduled for the end of this month. There, besides participating in an expanded meeting of the UN General Assembly, the Moldovan leader plans to hold meetings with representatives of the U.S. administration.
Against the background of the President’s shuttle diplomacy, the consensus of the elites within Moldova itself attracts more and more attention of experts and external observers. Rather restrained behavior of the pro-Western wing of the Moldovan government led by Maia Sandu in regard to a series of initiatives by Russian envoys and Igor Dodon is probably motivated by tactical considerations. This is also related, among other things, to the postponement of the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States. There is reason to believe that at the current stage, Washington and Brussels provide an opportunity for Moscow and Igor Dodon to reveal their positions on the Transdniestrian settlement and the future of Moldova as a whole, which will be thoroughly studied.
As for the Western response to these initiatives, it is likely to be announced later – but at the level of the Moldovan government.
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