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A glance at Transnistria

January 3, 2016

Recently your author has made a few trips to the Moldavian capital Chișinău due to a necessity to blow the accumulated dust from weighty tomes of historical documents – the documents sought having little to do with Moldova, but rather Romania of a century (and more) ago.

It is possible to drive from Odessa to Moldova either directly, avoiding Transnistria, or going through Transnistria.  If ever there is need of a reminder that despite a quarter of a century of gross political and economic mismanagement within an independent Ukraine it has nonetheless progressed, then a bumbling about in Transnistria very quickly provides such evidence, with Transnistria offering a step back in time of 50+ years in almost every sense.

The Transnistrian border guards are always good for conversation too (albeit driven by poor attempts at intelligence gathering rather than genuine conversation).  They always ask after Odessa and how things are politically and economically, and as a matter of politeness the reciprocal questions are asked of Transnistria.  According to one of your author’s favourite border guards, very soon Transnistria’s economic woes will be over – for they have discovered gold and diamonds on the territory!

gold

It naturally followed that your author asked how to gain a Transnistrian passport in time to share in this newly discovered and soon to be developed wealth.  Sadly however, the response was that it simply wasn’t possible for just anybody to gain a Transnistrian passport, and thus there way little chance of sharing in the forthcoming financial bonanza.

Perhaps over forthcoming trips to the archives in Chișinău it may be possible to negotiate some movement in the friendly border guard’s position?  After all, historically Transnistria has relied upon Odessa as a legitimate and illegitimate route for trade in and out of the territory – quid pro quo in sharing in this new found wealth?

However, with Moldova already having a FTA and Visa-free travel with the EU, and Ukraine’s DCFTA with the EU now being in force, (as well as being subject to Kremlin sanctions simultaneously as a result) and with Visa-free travel with the EU likely to come into effect before the end of 2016 (probably some time between June and September along with Kosovo, Georgia and Turkey) there is going to be a far more robust adherence of regulatory norms to which Ukraine is now legally obligated with regard to EU expectations/requirements – which will have an effect upon Transnistria.

Only the naive, or the retarded, will lay claim to an end of the legitimate trade between Transnistria and Odessa/Ukraine – though they may rightly raise the issue of tariffs now being more effectively applied than have historically been less than stringently applied.  It would be equally naive, or retarded, to claim that illicit trade will cease too – particularly that of the organised typed that will simply find the weakest links in border management/patrols.  It will however, undoubtedly become more difficult than has traditionally been the case.

Despite the (fanstasy) claims of your author’s favourite Transnistrian border guard of new found gold and diamond resources, clearly there will be economic repercussions upon a Kremlin subsidy dependent Transnistrian economy – which will in turn leads to questions about any future 5+2 negotiations over the Transnistrian territory, and just how much more “interesting” if not “prickly” they will become – albeit such negotiations take place without any serious expectations of ever coming close to any effective settlement.

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