The issues of the negotiation agenda between Chisinau and Tiraspol are constantly being supplemented. Most recently, blocking the accounts of Pridnestrovian enterprises and the problem of a quarry in the Dubossary District have been added to the main issues identified by Berlin +. Now the list of problems has been supplemented by the travel ban on vehicles with Pridnestrovian license plates crossing Moldovan-Ukrainian border. It would seem that the tactics of “small steps”, supported by all the participants of the Permanent Meeting on the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian settlement in the 5 + 2 format, are aimed at eliminating the problematic aspects in the relations between the PMR and the RM.
On the other hand, Chisinau does not solve old issues (which it is obliged to do based on the results of protocol decisions of recent years) but also creates new ones.
On the same day, the issue of limitation by the Moldovan authorities of the movement of vehicles with Pridnestrovian license plates was considered three times at different venues: at a meeting of political representatives of Pridnestrovie and Moldova, consultations of the PMR Foreign Minister with the head of the OSCE Mission in Moldova and at a meeting of the Security Council under the President of Pridnestrovie.
Therefore, from January 10, reports on the Moldovan Border Police did not allow vehicles with Pridnestrovian registration numbers cross the checkpoints on its territory began to arrive. As it turned out later, the owners of neutral numbers and at the same time Pridnestrovian driver’s license also had problems.
The Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister and Chisinau’s political representative in the negotiations with Tiraspol, Alexander Flenchea, at the meeting with his Pridnestrovian counterpart, explained that there was an agreement between Chisinau and Kiev not to pass vehicles with PMR numbers within Ukraine.
It should be noted that the argumentation leaves something to be desired. Previously, indeed Ukraine threatened that it would allow vehicles with Pridnestrovian registration cross the border. There have even been cases when fines were imposed on drivers from Pridnestrovie. But then the situation was quickly resolved through political and diplomatic channels. But in this case, Ukraine has nothing to do with it. There are no obstacles to travel to this country from Ukraine. It is the Border Police of the Republic of Moldova who sends back the vehicles. By the way, this is another argument against the introduction of the second phase of the joint Moldovan-Ukrainian control at the Kuchurgan checkpoint on the border of Pridnestrovie and Ukraine. After the last meeting of political representatives in Tiraspol, Chisinau still delayed tightening control from February 1 to August 1, although initially the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Moldova proposed a delay of almost a year - until January 1, 2021. Meanwhile, problems in Kuchurgan arose earlier: in 2018, Moldovan officials at the Ukrainian customs refused to let in medicines to Pridnestrovie.
In addition to referring to bilateral agreements with Ukraine, in an interview with reporters Alexander Flenchea tried to explain the obstacles posed by Moldova to Pridnestrovian car owners and the operation of vehicle registration points. If internationally recognized neutral (without the PMR and RM symbols) registration marks are issued, then the Pridnestrovian license plates should become illegal abroad. As Vitaly Ignatiev said, the argument is foggy. The protocol decision on the operation of the mechanism of neutral numbers stipulates that the drivers with the Pridnestrovian license plates should not impose any restrictions. It seems that Moldova is forcing Pridnestrovian auto enthusiasts to switch to the driver's license of the Republic of Moldova. On the one hand, Chisinau is trying to bring them into its legal field, on the other hand, to contribute to the budget of Moldova.
There will be Response
It was decided to involve mediators and observers in the negotiation process on the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian settlement to solve this problem. As Vitaly Ignatiev told reporters, their representatives have already been informed. Next week, OSCE Special Representative Thomas Mayr-Harting intends to visit Pridnestrovie. Obviously, the license plate issue will be on the agenda of his meetings with Pridnestrovian officials. Unless, Chisinau has voluntarily given up on these measures before that time.
Nevertheless, response measures is being discussed. What they can be is still unknown. However, as the presidential press service reports, they were discussed at a meeting of the Pridnestrovian Security Council. At the meeting, it was bluntly stated that since political and diplomatic measures are powerless against the background of Chisinau's lack of maturity, then other methods must be applied.
What does Moldova Want?
Chisinau's negotiation tactics are no longer a secret to anyone. And as before, it lies in creating new problems for Pridnestrovie.
In addition, it must be borne in mind that presidential elections are expected in Moldova this year. This factor will have an additional impact on Chisinau’s policy regarding Pridnestrovie. Against the background of general problems in the economy, it is extremely important for the Moldovan authorities to show voters that they are good for something. And what can strengthen the positions of those who rule Moldova today, if not the pressure on Pridnestrovie? At the same time, pressure, which is not only cynical, but also inhumane according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is applied to ordinary citizens of the PMR.
Anyway, it is well known that the war of 1990-1992 unleashed by Moldova haven’t end. Now the it is in the cold phase and is being waged against Pridnestrovie by diplomatic and sanctions measures. While Chisinau only seems to need negotiations to divert attention, play for time and have formal indicators to reporting to international mediators.