There is still no consensus in Moldova on the early 1990s conflict on the Dniester and the formula for relations with the left bank. As practice shows, without this, any talk as to final Pridnestrovian problem settlement remains fiction
Over the past few days, the left bank problem suddenly became again one of the most pressing topics of domestic political discourse in Moldova. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Aureliu Ciocoi, acting as a hypemaker unexpectedly experienced the public’s opinion controversy degree regarding the tragic events of 1991-1992 and felt how painful the reaction can be.
It should be recalled that just six months ago the head of the MFAEI Nicu Popescu, called the military conflict on the Dniester a civil war. In response to the stormy reaction of the public and veteran organizations the newly-made minister was forced to hastily withdraw his words and apologize publicly for such “imprudent statements” that, as it turned out, were not shared by a significant part of society.
Seemingly, in the wake of the summer deoligarchization and high temperature regimes in Moldovan politics, the response to Mr. Popescu’s declarations was somewhat disproportionate. But a similar plot with Ciocoi’s participation already indicates that the Pridnestrovian theme is still extremely sensitive and causes painful reflections in the Moldovan society. President Igor Dodon personally had to intercede for his unfortunate minister, who said that the official intended a peacekeeping operation that stopped the bloodshed. It was not very convincing, since Ciocoi himself, in his explanations to one of the local radio stations first accused all ill-wishers of false interpretations with resentment and then made a special emphasis on the illegality of the Russian army which, in his opinion, has nothing to look for on the Dniester’s left bank.
Stubbornness and unwillingness to take into account how strong the public discontent was led to the scandal flaring up with renewed vigor. As a result, pickets of veteran organizations appeared at the Moldovan government building demanding the resignation of the country’s main diplomat. Opposition leaders joined the calls. In particular, Andrei Nastase noted the “grave insult” to the veterans of the Dniester war and the homeland betrayal. In his opinion, the minister challenged the historical truth and spoke on the alien side – “on the side of the invaders.” The Action and Solidarity party also demanded that the minister be dismissed for defiling the memory of those who gave their lives in defense of the country’s independence and territorial integrity.
Apparently, in order to defuse the situation and shift the focus of public attention, Igor Dodon decided to fill the media space with a discussion about the prospects for the Pridnestrovian settlement. He stated Chisinau’s determination to start discussing an agreed model for resolving the conflict, given the existence of political and national consensus on this issue. It was hard to imagine a more inappropriate moment for such public offers, that’s why from Tiraspol followed a quite expected sharp and negative reaction which deprived the authorities of further maneuver.
Meanwhile, the main conclusion that can be drawn from this whole plot is a deep schism in Moldavian society, regarding both the history of the Dniester conflict and the possible formula for its settlement. Over the 28 years since the end of the bloody events Moldovan society has not found the strength to reconcile internally with this tragic page in our history or could not find answers to the most difficult questions and determine the real reasons for what happened and those responsible. What is difficult to argue with is the proposal of Minister Ciocoi that Moldova needs a broad nationwide study on the events of the 90s.
Without this “home task” it actually turns out that so far there’s nothing one can offer to Tiraspol. Besides, it’s dangerous to start conversations in conditions when in Chisinau they are still radically inclined towards those who split the warring parties in 1992 or to their descendants who settled in Pridnestrovie. As it turned out, contrasting the soft speeches of individual politicians, there is still a high intensity and deep gaps in Moldavian society in terms of perceiving the origins of the conflict and possible coexistence with the left bank. The distinct disagreements and the lack of a consolidated understanding of recent history do not yet allow us to start a serious discussion about the final settlement with both Chisinau’s international partners and Tiraspol. And given the lack of real action to achieve a national consensus on Pridnestrovie one is unlikely to be allowed to reach it any time soon.
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