The presidency of Igor Dodon and the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict – a year of no results and plenty of declarations


By Alexandru Hîncu

The electoral campaign of Igor Dodon was rich in promises regarding the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and the stabilization of the eastern border of the Republic of Moldova. One year after winning the presidential election, Igor Dodon failed to boost the negotiation process due to several causes. Pursuing both political and economic benefits, the majority of causes refer to the different interests that the parties involved in managing this conflict have, no one being really interested in overcoming this blockage.

Perceived as a consequence of geopolitical competition between the EU and Russia, the hybrid war in eastern Ukraine brings to light the issue of the expansionary tendencies of the Russian Federation with major implications on the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state and the Republic of Moldova, both countries facing similar influences. Russian military troops support on the one hand, the separatist regime led by Tiraspol and on the other hand, maintain a destabilizing situation at the eastern border of the Republic of Moldova. The newly elected president Igor Dodon maintains a strong pro-Russian position, therefore the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict takes a distinct approach from the official position of the pro-European government in Chisinau. This situation instigates new debates related to the regulation of the Transnistrian conflict.

From the beginning of the mandate the president Dodon came up with a number of declarations concerning Transnistria, most of them seeming to be unilaterally favorable, to some extent empowering Tiraspol over Chisinau. The Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) which has close ties with the president ,,…proposed their plan which is based on the federative structure of statehood”[1], declared Igor Dodon in an interview for the Russian National News Agency TASS. ,,We must give a special status to Transnistria. I support the idea of federalization of the country and I think this is the only way of acting.”[2] This scenario is comparable with the proposal for the settlement of relations between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria from 2003, namely the Kozak Memorandum. Through the Memorandum, ,,Transnistria should have equal status with the rest of Moldova”[3], in the academic literature this phenomenon being called Transnistrization of the Republic of Moldova.[4] Even if president Dodon neglects with determination the analogy, both projects consequently lead to asymmetric outcomes for the subjects, putting in a very favorable position and advantaging Transnistria. The project of the PSRM intensively promoted by Igor Dodon is impossible to be performed in the actual legal framework. The impossibility of offering a special status to Transnistria lies in the provisions of the law no.173 of 22.07.2005. According to this law only after: ,,the fulfillment of the conditions for the demilitarization, in particular  the respect by the Russian Federation of the obligations assumed at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul (1999) regarding the complete, urgent and transparent evacuation of troops and munition from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.”[5] Due to the federal parliament structure this federative project appears inadequate, ineffective and prejudicial for the interests of Chisinau. The federative project shall include three subjects, Moldova, Transnistria and Gagauzia. ,,The Senate shall be composed of 27 senators representing constituent entities of the Federation. The number of senators for each constituent entity shall be set to ensure their proper representation at the legislative branch of the Federation regardless of the size of territory of a constituent entity.”[6] The president appears inconsequent in his proposals. ,,It is necessary to prohibit by law any public organizations and political parties that openly advocate for the liquidation of the statehood of the Republic of Moldova”[7], declared Igor Dodon for RT news-network. But, by offering equal powers to pro-Russian senators from Transnistria and Gagauzia that are likely to act concertedly and coordinate their moves will easily be able to block law projects that come from Moldova losing this way its decision power and statehood. According to press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin welcomes the way president Dodon actions in order to solve the conflict in the east of the Republic of Moldova, especially the meeting with the leader of the unrecognized republic.[8]

From 10th to 12th of October 2017 the summit of the leaders of CIS in Sochi took place. During the summit, president Igor Dodon had an official meeting with Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation. The discussion agenda included topics about strengthening political, economic and social relations between Chisinau and Moscow. Also, Transnistria has been included in the meeting agenda and president Putin has provided fuses regarding the engagement of Russia in the settlement process: ,,We will do everything necessary to settle the Transnistrian conflict, to act as guarantors of those agreements that must eventually appear, in order to solve this problem once and for all.”[9] But in fact, Russian troops do not leave despite previous obligations and current agreements, everything remaining at the level of political discourse.

Since the beginning of the presidential term, Igor Dodon has not made any relevant progress in the process of solving the Transnistrian dispute. Federalization as a solution is not accepted by anyone else in Moldova. He did not succeed to attract other political parties, even pro-Russian ones, thus having no internal support. This situation is used for its own purposes by the leader from Tiraspol. He failed to reach a compromise with the pro-Russian leader from the left side of Nistru river. Moreover, the so-called president of Transnistria counts for the total independence of the region and the unification with Russia, this approach being motivated by the results of the referendum from 2006. In his first press-conference the newly elected leader, Vadim Krasnoselskyi stated: ,,Today I will not discuss the issue of political recognition and political status. They were defined by the people – this is the independence of Transnistria.”[10] Accordingly, the Transnistrian leader does not accept the federative project proposed by Igor Dodon and PSRM. Moreover, this project has no supporters among Kremlin leaders, the current standing of Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia seems not to perceive the federalization as the suitable way of solving the conflict. Besides internal opposition, in the current political context, the presidential initiative regarding the settlement of the Transnistrian dispute is destined to failure due to the lack of advocacy from the parties involved, both from Moscow and Tiraspol.

About author:

Currently involved in the MA Program of The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA) studying Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Alexandru Hîncu has cultivated a particular interest in international relations with focus on the issues related to security. The motivation to study this topic is based on his own concern in analyzing the relations between regional powers from Euro-Atlantic area and the ex-soviet space.


[1] Игорь Додон: в приднестровском урегулировании важно найти решение, устраивающее людей на обоих берегах Днестра, TASS, Moscova, 12 decembrie 2016,
[2] Додон: народ Молдавии проголосовал за развитие отношений с Россией, Vesti, Moscova, 14 noiembrie                  2016,
[3] Marius Vahl și Michael Emerson, ,,Moldova and the Transnistrian Conflict” în Europeanization and Conflict Resolution, ed. Bruno Coppieters și alții (Gent: Academia Press, 2004), 16.
[4]  Octavian Milevschi și Stanislav Secrieru ,,Conflictele înghețate în spațiul postsovietic,” în Daniel Biro, Relațiile Internaționale Contemporane: Teme centrale în politica mondială (București: Polirom, 2013).
[5] Parlamentul Republicii Moldova, Lege Nr.173 din 22.07.2005 cu privire la prevederile de bază ale statutului juridic special al localităților din stînga Nistrului (Transnistria), Monitorul oficial Nr.101-103, art Nr. 478, 2005.
[6]  Federalizare, Partidul Socialiștilor din Republica Moldova, Chișinău, 25 decembrie 2013,
[7]  Молдавию с Россией связывают столетия: Игорь Додон в интервью RT, RT news-network, Moscova, 16 decembrie 2016,
[8]  В Кремле положительно оценили заявления Додона по Приднестровью, RIA Novosti, Moscova, 10 mai 2017,
[9]  Встреча с Президентом Молдовы Игорем Додоно, Kremlin, Moscova, 10 octombrie 2017,
[10]  Вадим Красносельский рассказал, над чем будет работать на посту президента Novosti Pridnestrovia, Tiraspol, 12 decembrie 2016,

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