Status of uncontrolled territory became an occasion for illegal business in Transnistria

[Info-Prim Neo article from the series “20 years of the start of the war. When should we expect peace?”] The Transnistrian conflict is a specific feature of Moldova’s statehood. The fact that the central authorities did not control the eastern districts situated on the left bank of the Nistru River before the proclamation of the independence on August 27, 1991 is a relevant argument in support of this assertion. Owing to the Transnistrian dispute, the Moldovan people are not fully sovereign on the whole territory of the country, considers Ion Tabirta, deputy head of the Strategic Research and Political Consultancy Center “Politicon”. In the 20 years since the armed conflict on the Nistru started, a rather strange situation was created as regards the perception of the breakaway republic by the people living on the right side of the river. Ion Tabirta said that on the one hand, the population of Moldova knows that Transnistria is not controlled by the official Chisinau, but on the other hand, feels the presence of the separatist region in the daily life, starting with the relatively free communication between the banks of the Nistru and ending with the Transnistrian athletes performing for Moldova. “The Transnistrian conflict has two main substrata. The first is the political one. In the typology of the unsolved conflicts existing in the post-Soviet area, the Transnistrian one is described as political. Its origin is political because, as we know very well, it was conceived in the Kremlin laboratories in order to stop the national-cultural renaissance in Chisinau. De jure, Chisinau controls the eastern districts, but de factor it does not, except for some settlements. After the Soviet Union fell apart, the political aspect of the Transnistrian conflict acquired a geopolitical character,” stated the deputy head of “Politicon”. Ion Tabirta said the geopolitical aspect of the dispute emerged with the extension of the NATO and the European Union up to Moldova’s borders. For Russia, the Transnistrian region has a major geopolitical importance as Moscow tries to keep Chisinau within its sphere of influence through Tiraspol, or at least not to allow Moldova’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic geopolitical organizations. According to the expert, the economic substratum of the conflict is caused by the fact that the status of uncontrolled territory for a number of Moscow and Tiraspol officials and for certain Chisinau officials in certain periods of time became a good occasion for illegal business. “It is not a secret that certain military circles in Moscow illegally trade in armament through the Transnistrian region. Many dishonest practices have been performed there,” said Ion Tabirta. As the official Chisinau does not control Transnistria, it is deprived of powerful industrial potential. Closer to the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, there was a visible structural economic difference between the two banks of the Nistru. The right bank was mainly agrarian in character, while the left one – industrial. As a result, during the first years of independence, Moldova experienced a structural economic imbalance. The existence of the Transnistrian conflicts makes the observation of a number of articles of the Constitution of Moldova impossible, including Article 1, which says that Moldova is a sovereign, independent, united and indivisible state, Article 3, which provides that Moldova’s territory is inalienable and the borders are defined by organic law, and Article 11, which stipulates that Moldova does not allow the deployment of foreign military troops on its territory. [Mariana Galben, Info-Prim Neo]

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