Moscow will make certain promises to Chisinau, but there will be no major developments, experts say

As the previous meetings of the Presidents of Moldova and Russia, Vladimir Voronin and Vladimir Putin, the meeting of January 22, 2008 was a mystery as not much is known about the subjects discussed there and this leads to speculation. Given that this is the last meeting with Putin as head of state, there was probably great hope, this time too, that the meeting will produce a positive result for Moldova basing on the package deal invoked by the authorities, but which is not widely known, Programme Coordinator of the Foreign Policy Association Radu Vrabie told Info-Prim Neo. The cited source supposes that in Moscow the two heads of state discussed three aspects and namely Moldova’s neutrality, the recognition of the Russian property in Transnistria and the economic investments that Russia could make in Moldova. There are no reasons to think that Russia could make certain concessions in the case of Transnistria because it is the most interested party in maintaining its status-quo in Transnistria. The EU is not yet very actively involved in the conflict settlement process, the U.S. is caught up in the Middle East and channels all its efforts there, Ukraine experiences internal problems and it is not yet clear how they will be solved. So, Russia is the only country with influence in the Transnistrian region. The difference between Moldova’s and Russia’s positions is that for Voronin, this is one of the last chances to solve the conflict this year. Russia has more time so that the talks are carried out from unequal positions, Radu Vrabie says. Moldova negotiates against the clock as Vladimir Voronin wants to settle the dispute until the end of his term in office, while Russia seems satisfied with the present situation and postpones a possible agreement. Russia could agree with Chisinau’s proposals only when Moldova has several methods of solving the Transnistrian conflict, not only direct talks with Russia. But Chisinau made no attempt to find such methods in the last few years. The expert gives as examples the marred relations with Romania, the uncertain situation about the integration into the EU, the even more uncertain situation as regards GUAM, etc. The anti-Romania statements made by Vladimir Voronin in Moscow after a meeting with the Russian Patriarch Alexy II are regrettable. These are not a one-time attack, but a one-year practice of verbal confrontations between Bucharest and Chisinau and this arouses concerns in Brussels and escalates a conflict that must be discussed at the level of experts and of senior authorities. According to Radu Vrabie, this conflict makes Moldova have fewer allies in its European aspirations and in its attempts to solve the Transnistrian conflict. Given that the relations with Ukraine are not excellent, Moldova is the only country in Europe with no access to the sea and with difficult relations with both its neighbours. The expert does not believe that there will be major changes. Certain aspects of the bilateral relations will be considered, Chisinau will receive certain promises, but there will be no major developments. He considers that Moscow’s position will not change after the presidential elections in Russia this March because Moldova is not very important in the foreign policy of Russia, which now wants to regain the positions lost in the 90s. Taking into consideration that the future president of Russia is expected to be a close ally of Putin, the present policy will be continued for internal and external reasons. As to the Transnistrian dispute, Moscow will probably continue to give hope to Moldova, trying to delay a final decision until an agreement which suits it best is reached, Radu Vrabie said, quoted by Info-Prim Neo.

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