No essential changes will be recorded in Moldovan-Russian relationships next 2-3 years: experts

Once Dmitri Medvedev has been elected as the new Russian president, Russia’s foreign policy, including the Moldovan-Russian relationships will not change essentially, Radu Vrabie, Program Coordinator of the External Policy Association (EPA) has stated for Info-Prim Neo. Radu Vrabie considers that Russia’s policy, at least its foreign policy, will be the same because of two major reasons. One is electoral – the policy promoted by President Putin is liked by the Russian electorate, a proof being just the results obtained in elections by his successor, Dmitri Medvedev. For the Russian people, the majority of whom was born in the USSR, the 90s were very hard, and returning to a tone of equality in the relationships with the West made Putin a sort on national hero. Another reason is that the new President Medvedev comes in a system already created. He does not build a system, as Putin did, but comes into a defined one, constituted from the same political builders, which remain with the same ideas concerning the relationships with the West. The expert does not see, at least the next 2-3 years, how Medvedev could change this system in order to be able to change the external policy. Radu Vrabie believes that, in the relationships with Moldova, the same line will be kept – satisfactory economic relationships, instead of a position convenient for Russia, Moldova is expected to take as to the Transnsitrian conflict. Chisinau has seen in Russia, for more years, a state that can change the situation in the Transnistrian problem. And this can be noticed, relatively, in the frequent meetings between the Russian and Moldovan officials, including at the highest level. Yet Russia is not able now to reach a solution for the conflict without gaining some victories, including in terms of image within the country. In this respect, Russia is interested in Moldova’s neutrality, albeit internationally guaranteed, in the Russian property and certain economic advantages it could also have on the right bank of the Nistru. At the same time, taking into account that the Transnistrian issue is not an urgent one for Russia, it has time to wait. Moreover, so far it remains the only country which can influence the situation on the left bank of the Nistru. Under these circumstances, Russia’s policy in the Transnistrian dossier will go on unchanged the next couple of years – talks with Moldova, but without obtaining obvious success, that is securing a viable solution for the Transnistrian conflict. Russia could “cede” only in case it will have what to gain and will be able to influence not only Transnistria, but entire Moldova. In addition, for Russia it is very important that the solution should seem as a Russian initiative, not a Moldovan one. Otherwise, it could be interpreted as a failure for the Russian side, Radu Vrabie says. In the expert’s opinion, Moldova in its turn should multiply and diversify the efforts aimed at solving the Transnistrian conflict in different ways. It is important to develop Moldova’s attractiveness in terms of justice, mass-media, foreign investments, living standards. Also, Moldova should aim at intensifying its relations with the European Union, Ukraine and the USA, in order to get external support both at the level of expertise, and to resume the negotiations in the 5+2 format. Referring to the last statements of President Vladimir Voronin regarding the soon resumption of the talks, the expert mentions that the negotiations are stated as imminent for quite a while, yet no progress is seen in this respect so far. Until the talks are resumed, R. Moldova has a lot to do in order to prepare a good platform, says Radu Vrabie. As for the hearings in the State Duma regarding the recognition of the three self-proclaimed republics - Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia – announced for March 13, the analyst does not believe Russia will recognize the breakaway republics. Such a conclusion can be deduced from Russia’s having changed its rhetoric after Kosovo proclaimed its independence. If earlier they used to speak of Kosovo as of a sure precedent for those three unrecognized republics, after the proclamation nobody speaks about it. Also it is important to mention the hearings will be held in the State Duma, the decisions of which are more declarative, or, at the level of its President, Rusia has not had statements backing up the independence of the three secessionist areas. Perhaps these hearings are done in order to preserve an illusion of independence for the three regions and to keep Chisinau and Tbilisi under pressure. Speaking of the economic relationships between Moldova and Russia, now the situation is satisfactory, Radu Vrabie says. Certain successes have been registered lately, actually returning to the relationships existing till the ban of the Moldovan wine and agricultural produce to Russia. The wine is back on the Russian market, although not in the amount sufficient for Chisinau. Also, stabilizing the situation in the gas issue makes clear the perspectives of the gas prices. Although the price required is big enough for Chisinau, bigger than the one for Ukraine, this is a stable price and Moldova clearly knows what to expect in this regard, Radu Vrabie mentions. Dmitri Medvedev was elected as Russian president on March 2, with 70% of votes.

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