Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 38

In parallel statements during the last few days, Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov and Supreme Soviet chairman Grigory Marakutsa have offered to settle the dispute with the central Moldovan government if the latter reverses its pro-Western course. “Moldova’s reorientation from West to East would remove all differences between Chisinau and Tiraspol and settle the issue of Transdniester,” Smirnov said. In turn, Marakutsa said, “If Moldova would turn its countenance to the East and become an active member of the CIS political space, it would settle 99 percent of the differences.” According to both leaders, the prospect of NATO’s enlargement renders Moldova’s reorientation “particularly topical” in the military area as well. Smirnov and Marakutsa both spoke on their return from meetings in Moscow with Russian government officials and Duma leaders (Flux, Basapress, Infotag, February 19, 23).

The proposal highlights the continuity in Transdniester’s role as an instrument of Moscow’s policy over the last ten years. Smirnov and Marakutsa have been in power in Tiraspol continuously since 1989, successively serving Soviet and post-Soviet Moscow. When separating from Moldova at the behest of USSR central authorities, Transdniester leaders offered to reverse that separation if Moldova agreed to remain a part of the USSR. That offer has since been updated to fit the changed circumstances, but its essence is the same and is being aired periodically. It calls for Moldova to return to Russia’s orbit and to accept the Russian military presence in Transdniester as the price for settling the conflict.