Igor Dodon on Transnistria: “If We Don’t Reach an Agreement, There Will Be Another War”

Photo: Geopolitica.ru
Photo: Geopolitica.ru
In a closed press conference, the president of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, commented on the current situation in Transnistria for Geopolitica.Ru and listed possible methods that could end the conflict. If the opposite happens, emphasized the head of state, we risk another ‘hot zone’.  
Dodon reminded us that a referendum was held in Transnistria in 2006. Then, the decision was made that Tiraspol would either only get independence or become part of Russia. But what will be next? 
“It is important to understand that Transnistria exists in the current situation only thanks to Russia. I won’t even begin about the military bases or peacekeepers. I have said that the peacekeepers are doing excellent work, that they have finished their mission, and that they should remain for the time being” – commented Dodon on a question by Geopolitica.ru – “But economically speaking, Russia has invested several tens of billions of dollars in Transnistria in these 25 years. Can you imagine how much money that is?” 
Moldova’s president brought to mind, that Moldova’s current external debt is 1.8 billion dollars and that Russia has invested several tens of billions in Transnistria, a region with about 400.000 inhabitants.  
“25 years they haven’t been paying for gas, the debt is already at 8 billion. Every year they have received around 50-100-150 million dollars (among other things). Here’s a simple question: where is the money? You could have built a second Dubai for that kind of cash. Do you know what kind of situation their economics and social sphere are in? Do you understand now, that there are a very many people with fixed interests that don’t want to solve the problem? There is only one company there: ‘Sheriff’.”   
Apart from the situation of the financial ‘black hole’, Dodon also paid attention to the fact that there are still reasons for optimism. After Russian president Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he would like to see an end to the problem, there is hope for the establishment of order.  
While commenting on the prognoses for the next two years, Dodon emphasized that Transnistria cannot become part of Russia. “Not just because there isn’t a direct border; there is, after all, no direct border with Kaliningrad. Transnistria will not become the next Kaliningrad. Ukraine and Moldova will never recognize it. That is why Transnistria’s one chance is either becoming a part of Moldova, or joining Ukraine (which is potentially lethal; you can see what’s happening in the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine). Therefore, the only chance is finding common ground with us.”  
Dodon also proposed the hypothesis, that the Transnistrian government does not want to engage in a dialogue with him as they would then lose comfortable corruption schemes at home. “For some politicians from Transnistria it would be good if Dodon wasn’t president here, but the NATO supporter instead. Because then it will be easier to ask for money from Moscow.”  
Nonetheless, Moldova is continuing a dialogue with the region. “During this year we will try to solve the common man’s problems. There are a lot of them. Recently we have taken the decision to acknowledge degrees from Transnistrian institutions of higher education. Now we will try to find a solution for Transnistrian license plates, the Transnistrian mobile network. It is now cheaper to phone from Chisinau to Washington than from Chisinau to Tiraspol (and the distance between us and Tiraspol is about 60 kilometers)” – explained the Moldovan president. 
After these pressing questions have been dealt with, the Moldovans will try to deal with political regulation, Dodon added. According to him, it will be necessary to take three steps: first, a pro-Moldovan government will need to be in place in Chisinau.  
“If we get a government which opens a NATO office, or says that we need to join Romania, nothing will get done. It is because of this that we had a war 25 years ago” – he reminded us. 
The second condition is a joint development with Tiraspol of plans for the future. The third point is a developed common position to enter negotiations in the 5 + 2 format (Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine, the OVSE, and the EU and US as observers). 
“I feel that Brussels, as well as Washington and Moscow would like to see a solution to this problem,” – said the president, - “There are no other chances. If we don’t reach an agreement, there will be another war. I won’t exclude the possibility that overseas, the hawks, not Trump, have ideas to provoke a conflict. Because if they were to provoke a conflict here, Russia would have to get involved. Because there are 300.000 citizens of the Russian Federation in Transnistria.” 
In this context, in order not to let them create another ‘hot zone’, it is necessary to take a very well-weighed approach to the situation in total, Dodon concluded.