The Moldovan government updated after the PSRM-PDM coalition formation and Cristina Lesnic returned to duties of chief negotiator with Tiraspol. Since her absence the settlement situation turned upside down. Therefore, the question of whether the “new-old” political representative can return content and trust to the two banks of the Dniester dialogue is far from idle.
Cristina Lesnic’s first “term” as vice-premier for reintegration fell at the peak of negotiations under the concept of “focus on concrete results” and was marked by the historical agreement on neutral plates. Today, the accumulated potential is completely wasted and negotiations must be restarted in a situation of almost zero mutual trust and crisis within the coronavirus ubiquitousness spread.
Traditionally for the Moldovan politics of recent years, the key condition for the coalition alliance of socialists and democrats this week has been the distribution of financial flows and government portfolios. The Democratic Party, “cleansed” from Andrian Candu and several of his closest associates, regained full control of four key ministries – foreign affairs and European integration, defense, economy, and education. PDM also intends to apply for the post of Prime Minister or Speaker of the Parliament by the end of the year after presidential elections in Moldova take place.
Additionally to Ministries, democrats received the post of deputy prime minister for reintegration taken up by Cristina Lesnic. She used to hold this position in 2018-2019 but had to leave it after the coalition of socialists and pro-European opposition got created. Democrats’ interest in the post of political representative is easy to explain. This post assumes constant mandatory communication with a wide range of international representatives. It is known that the European Union and the United States are observers in the 5 + 2 negotiation format, and the OSCE is an intermediary.
Thus, the Democratic Party has a legal stable communication channel that will allow in perspective gain the lost trust of the international community. Cristina Lesnic is quite capable to convince Brussels and Washington the Democratic Party in Moldova is indispensable despite embassies revolution in June 2019. Namely for this, the Transdniestrian settlement track fits it the best way possible.
The first steps of the “New-Old” political representative testify to her readiness to dialogue with Tiraspol and show business approach to solving tasks. Moreover, the situation with coronavirus infection spread leaves no time for buildup but forces get hard at work.
Based on the latest press releases from the Reintegration Bureau, since returning Cristina Lesnic has established constant contact with her colleague from Tiraspol to address issues of movement of citizens under quarantine measures on both banks of the Dniester. Pridnestrovie went forward and, as an exception, provided access to the region for Moldovan police, customs, and social institutions, including schools and boarding schools. It would have been difficult to imagine such a compliance of Tiraspol a few weeks ago when communication between the main negotiators was virtually absent.
Obviously, today Cristina Lesnic uses the reputation that has developed during her previous tenure as deputy prime minister. At that time, it was possible to sign the Protocol Decision on the International Traffic of Transdniestrian Vehicles, the Protocol of the 5+2 format meeting in Rome, and to move forward in implementing the mutual agreements of November 2017.
The paradox is that after she left, the number of problems has not decreased, but yet increased significantly. In addition to the well-known stalled implementation of the agreement on the allocation of frequencies to the Transdniestrian IDC provider and the requirements of Transdniestria to terminate mutual criminal cases, a banking problem arose and became very acute. With the departure of Cristina Lesnic, the current accounts of Transdniestrian economic agents which Chisinau managed to open in their banks to monitor the financial flows of the region were blocked. Such an approach toughened the economic elite of Transdniestria and did not contribute to strengthening ties between the two banks of the Nistru. If the issue is not resolved in the coming months, this will root economic differences and contradictions within Moldova, and Tiraspol will be forced to build an independent banking policy.
As for the agreements reached earlier, unlike Vasile Sova and Alexandru Flenchea, who did not sign a single agreement with the Transdniestrian region for half a year, the current political representative will not be able to refuse Chisinau’s obligations, since she is personally involved in many of them. But, in turn, Tiraspol will predictably be more disposed to the requests and initiatives of the Moldovan side, since it can seriously count on reciprocity.
Cristina Lesnic takes over the reins in a settlement in very crisis circumstances, both in the negotiation process itself and in the context of an unfavorable epidemiological situation. It is obvious that the issue of overcoming the pandemic in Moldova with maintaining the necessary contacts between the two banks is her primary task.
At the same time, after the morbidity problems are resolved, issues of implementing agreements reached will be resumed with renewed vigor, thus becoming the most important test for the viability of the settlement process and the willingness of the current team in Chisinau to contribute to it.
The day before yesterday, it was decided to suspend the functioning of vehicle registration offices in Tiraspol and Ribnita due to quarantine. However, recently there have been many other contradictions and speculations around the VROs. In particular, Transdniestria openly criticizes Chisinau for refusing to solve the problem of driver’s licenses. This topic has been ignored by the Moldovan authorities for more than a year, and Alexandru Flenchea, leaving his post, even stated that he considers issuance of Moldovan driver’s license to Transdniestrian car owners his personal success. Cristina Lesnic, who signed the agreement on car numbers, will be forced to react more seriously to Tiraspol’s opinion. In particular, it will depend on whether new frankness appears in the dialogue between the two Nistru banks.
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