Having returned from Vienna, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski answered the questions of the First Republican TV Channel

Having returned from Vienna, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski answered the questions of the First Republican TV Channel

On April 19, 2012 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski told about the results of the Vienna round of consultations in the Permanent Conference on Political Issues in the Framework of the Negotiation Process on Pridnestrovian Settlement format in an interview to First Republican TV Channel. We publish herein the full version of the interview:

- We managed to reach an agreement on the document Principles and Procedures for the Conduct of Formal Negotiations in framework of Permanent Conference. This document will be a basis for forming agenda during our work at the negotiation table henceforth. Certain principles have been already fixed during the negotiation process in previous periods, including the principle of equality of the Sides. That is why I am surprised with all this agitation in the Mass Media on some of the principles.

Pridnestrovie and the Republic of Moldova were defined as contracting parties in earlier periods, from 1994 to 2001, by different documents. Pridnestrovie always participated in these negotiations on the basis of equality.

It could not be otherwise because if the participants are negotiating on some other basis than, perhaps, it is not negotiations anymore but something else, some other format of contacts. Equality – is a fundamental principle, there could be no constructive dialogue without it.

In my opinion it is not the most important achievement of the Vienna round of negotiations. More important is that the discussion on this document is over. It took much time and the fact that today this document represents the status of all the participants of the negotiation process is very important in my opinion. The document defines what participants are actually the Parties of the negotiations process, what participants are mediators and what participants are observers. I should notice that in previous periods such provisions have been fixed by a number of documents, including the Bratislava Document and the Odessa Document, but fixing these principles today was not an easy task. The fact that we reached an agreement on fixing all these principles by the document proves common understanding between the participants and the immutable character of the 5+2 format. It proves that any attempts to change the format, to change the status of some participants, to treat it differently will now be impossible because such attitude would contradict the document settled in the Permanent Conference format.

Correspondent's question: The major principle settled during these consultations is the principle of equality of the sides. What influenced the change of position of the Moldovan colleagues?

- Once again I should stress that it could not be otherwise. Because equality during the negotiation process means guaranteed right for each side to submit proposals, guaranteed right for each side to raise any issue which this side considers important. It is directly stated in the settled document. Because this principle states that negotiations are conducted on the basis of equality and mutual respect between the participants there was a necessity to make some specifications of principle. Thus, for example, the authority of the observes – the EU and the USA – are limited by their status. It is defined by the Odessa Protocol of 2005. These subjects have no right to sign the documents.

This provision was duplicated also in the document coordinated in Vienna. It was necessary in order to avoid loose interpretations and different treatments. Here is final variant of the point of the document:

“In compliance with the established practice the negotiations within the framework of Permanent Consultations are led on the basis of equality and mutual respect between the participants with an account taken of their present status, fixed by the Protocol of meeting of intermediaries from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the OSCE and the representatives of the Republic of Moldova and Pridnestrovie (Odessa, September 26-27, 2005) and by its' annex “Rights and obligations of the observers in negotiation process”. This guarantees the right of each side to submit proposals of any kind and to raise the discussion of any issue, which it considers to be important for the process of negotiation. This provision does not act as precedent for the settlement or basis for evaluation by any of the sides of legal status of the sides existing at the moment.”

Besides the section “Fundamentals” of the document says, that “There are the following participants of Permanent Consultations: the sides – the Republic of Moldova and Pridnestrovie, the intermediaries – the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE, the observers – the European Union and the United States of America.”

It is important, that the present document fixes the provision that runs that the participants will refrain from raising of preliminary conditions, that each side undertook the obligation to fulfill reached agreements. It seems to me, that it makes sense to make an emphasis here. Beside, the principle which states, that each agreement will indicate the mechanisms of its' implementation, was fixed. I.e. it means that coordinated documents will become really effective instruments and will be not only declarations, statements and the things that resemble communiqué. If the sides come to arrangements, they obligatory indicate the way they will approach the result, which was agreed.

What was discussed apart from the coordination of principles? What are the results?

The discussion of future agenda of official negotiations took a lot of time. During Vienna round we succeeded in concordance of future agenda of official negotiations. It is great success. The topics – a kind of “baskets” which in the aggregate will form the negotiation agenda were defined. It is very important that socio-economical issues became the first topic. This conventional basket was filled by such important directions as development of transport, infrastructure, solving of the problems in banking sphere, fiscal issues, the freedom of movement of the people, goods and services and also medicine, healthcare, preservation of the environment and other issues – everything that has big significance in our everyday life.

To my mind it is a good signal. It is a token that shows, that in future the negotiations will be efficacious, that the results of these negotiations will be appreciable for people living in Pridnestrovie and Moldova. We are convinced that it is socio-economic but not political or other kind of issues, that must fill the negotiation agenda. These proposals on charging agenda of negotiations were heard by all participants of the negotiation process and we managed to fill this first basket of socio-economic matters with those areas of work which we saw as most prioritized and topical.

- Was expert work discussed?

- Certainly. An agreed document on the principles fixes that expert groups on confidence building measures and cooperation development are an integral element of the negotiation process and will function in accordance with approved procedures of their work. The proposal to synchronize expert groups with the work of the Permanent Political Conference was introduced by our side as far back as in Dublin. During the Vienna round we heard opinions of the rest of participants. We are glad that everyone supported existing format of work in expert groups. The sides assessed dynamics that is found today in the work of groups. Moreover, there are positive results – we could significantly move forward over little more than two months. Draft agenda of formal negotiations that we have brought into line reads that expert groups and their work will be a constituent part of the negotiation process. It is very important.

I have to say that in Dublin we also forwarded our proposals as regards guarantees. This question was again discussed in Vienna, and the sides came to an understanding that while discussing each of the three conventional negotiation baskets guarantees will be a direct part of discussions in each area.

Among other directions general legal and humanitarian issues of cooperation were pointed out, as well as issues of overall political settlement and institutional matters.

Also, in the course of Vienna negotiations, the Pridnestrovian side submitted a letter to political representatives of Russia and Ukraine inviting them to take part in negotiations on railways. As you remember, on March 30 Yevgeny Shevchuk and Vladimir Filat signed Protocol Decision on the resumption of railway traffic. One of the protocol items reads that the sides shall address Russia and Ukraine in order to involve experts of the “Russian Railways” and “Ukrzaliznytsya” which, as it seems, will cooperate with the Moldovan and Pridnestrovian sides and will be able to render methodological and technical assistance. In Vienna these documents were forwarded, and we hope that soon experts of “Russian Railways” and “Ukrzaliznytsya” will join work of Moldovan and Pridnestrovian customs officers, railway men and will help active promotion of this process.

- What is Your assessment of Rogozin's visit to Pridnestrovie which took place while You were in Vienna?

- In Vienna we closely monitored reports which appeared in mass media and which were available to us via Internet. It is encouraging that the majority of issues that were prepared for discussions were really discussed regardless the fact that the visit was not as long as we would like. However, the most complicated areas were not left unnoticed by Dmitry Olegovich. None of the questions which were seen as important were omitted. The Russian politician and diplomat focused attention on the complicated problems. I am sure that this visit will contribute to the creation of a platform on which concrete decisions, which have been long awaited here, will be worked out.