Shorthand Report on the Interview of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR to Internet Television “Dniester-TV”

Shorthand Report on the Interview of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR to Internet Television “Dniester-TV”

As it was reported earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski answered the questions of the Internet Television “Dniester-TV”. The shorthand report on the interview.

Nina Viktorovna, thank you very much for your consent to give interview to our television-radio company “Dniester-TV”. I think that the theme of today's talk will be topical.

One of the rounds of negotiation process in 5+2 format was held in July. Experts consider that during this round the issues from the first basket were discussed. Let me remind, that the OSCE Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova Jennifer Brush conditionally divided these issues into three parts, into three baskets. The first basket – socio-economical, the second – legal, the third – political one. 

An awful noise aroused around the third basket. There were different points of view, but at the second round of negotiations which took place in September in Vienna, the discussion turned to the second list of issues, to the second basket. Does it mean that the third basket will ever be unsealed?

No. At least until we will sort out the whole complex of socio-economical and humanitarian problems.

The question is indeed topical, it has already passed into the category of “horror stories”. Some experts invented so many things in relation to this topic that they began to believe in them. Then they began to operate with their own fantasies as with the real facts.

It is of course unacceptable in diplomatic and in any other kind of state work; because the things that we do bring big responsibility: for each decision, for each document signed, for each word.

You mentioned the OSCE Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova Ms Brush. The point is that the OSCE Mission to the Republic of Moldova does not have authority to define the course of the negotiations and the order of the leading of negotiations. The agenda, which was coordinated and in fact divided into three baskets, appeared during the negotiations as a general product. But there were different propositions and the things which were at first submitted to discussion sounded absolutely in a different way.

 As the result of long-term negotiations during the two rounds we discussed the essence of the negotiations and the agenda, i.e. the contents of the negotiations.   

It is obvious that overwhelming settlement is the final aim of the negotiations. In fact, the negotiation process was created for this purpose in 2002. Later in 2005 it was subjected to some transformations. The aims of the negotiations remained the same. Principles and procedures, adopted by us, contain the same aims.

It means that the strategy is the same?

The final objective is the same – how to reach this settlement. There was a time when they began from the discussion of the final objective: we will reach a certain status, a certain common state; then there were a lot of argumentations about how the Republics see this common state. Pridnestrovie-Moldova relations remained unsolved because of this bustle.

This year the position of the Pridnestrovian side implied the wish to change the path, not to repeat old mistakes. We want to solve the problems which were not touched before. Six years of the recess between the negotiations is rather long period. Additional problems managed to accumulate.

Let us try to work together. We will create definite atmosphere of confidence, the necessary platform and will show each other, if we are capable to make decisions, if we have political will, sufficient patience and purposefulness needed to reach a result? Then we must think only about the steps we will make together.

Actually the consensus concerning this approach was reached. You know, that in January on the meeting between Yevgeny Shevchuk and Vladimir Filat the agreement on the beginning of implementation of the tactics of “small steps” was reached. We brought this to negotiations when the content of the agenda was discussed.

The idea concerning the division of the agenda into three baskets has appeared. One may call them three blocks, three stages. The first basket – socio-economical issues, the second – legal, humanitarian issues, the third – overwhelming settlement, institutional and security issues.

When we conditionally agreed that negotiations look like three stages, when we agreed, that socio-economical issues are issues of top-priority for the sides, the necessity to coordinate the content appeared.

It was not complicated to reach the agreement on the content of the first basket – it is filled with problems we face every day. It was more difficult with the second basket because, as it seemed to us, many issues included in the basket are social ones according to their negative consequences. Compromise decision was found. The number of issues that we saw in the first basket was transferred to the second one.

But we did not manage to come to agreement on the content of the third basket. Different opinions existed. You know that there were intentions to include the issues concerning the peacekeeping mission on the banks of the Dniester here. To my mind, it is absolutely inconceivable because another format – Joint Control Commission exists. It is another international ground with a mandate. As a result the negotiations on the content of the third basket reached the deadlock.

In order to move on, the decision to close this issue was made. So, if you open the agenda which is published on the MFA's site you will see: there are three blocks, two of them are full, and the third is empty. How can anyone discuss the things that do not exist.

There are apparently many experts who want it to be full?

Such fantasies exist. One may have controversial impression after reading some of the comments. I can say officially: the position of Pridnestrovie remained unchanged.

As a political representative from Pridnestrovie I have a mandate and all powers to discuss socio-economic, legal and humanitarian issues. I have no right to discuss what hasn't been agreed.

During the July round of negotiations, we could reach the signing of principles and procedures and agenda with great difficulties. The protocol specifies that we have agreed and signed agenda in the version from the 18th of April, which is very important to us. No other agenda can be adopted and discussed today.

Certainly, there are international actors who would like to proceed with all three baskets. Somebody thinks it would be more reasonable, more efficient. Our reply is the following: if those involved in the negotiations would like to change the course of negotiations, if they want to change approach selected, then it means that we will have to return to that stage of negotiations when agenda was being discussed. In my opinion, it is unconstructive. Instead of moving forward we will have to come back and debate on baskets.

I don't exclude that there is somebody who wants it to be this way, since it is very and very difficult to solve socio-economic issues. It is that layer which becomes overgrown everyday.

We have long-standing problems, last year new ones emerged. These are problems of people. Tirotex, InterCenterLux, Elektromash, Moldavkabel, Tigina, Intershoes – here we first of all mean people who come to their jobs and understand that the presence of their working places, salaries, the fact whether an enterprise will be functioning or not - depend  on the decisions which we take.

Since last year, many enterprises were enforced to solve these problems independently. Senior officials of these enterprises used to go to tax authorities of Moldova, write letters to Prime-Minister Vlad Filat, tried to make Moldovan courts listen to them. Today we have obtained an opportunity to speak openly about this problems, to take advantage of the 5+2 format where our voice will be heard and we will seek solution altogether. Probably, it is not convenient for everyone, but this is our position.

It is wonderful, Nina Viktorovna, and if recall the back story we will see that Igor Smirnov's team and Igor Smirnov himself chose the tactics of “protracting negotiations” or their absence at all. Common people were the first to suffer from this. But still, today the small steps tactics is being realized, no matter how some experts dislike it. It is aimed at the betterment of the situation within Pridnestrovie on the whole and building a favourable image of the region as an open state. 

Still, some officials from Russia in their talks mention the idea of returning to the so-called Kozak's plan which practically provides for outlines of a federative system in the Republic of Moldova.

Pridnestrovie is striving to EurAsEC, towards Russia. Moldova is striving to Romania. It can be seen with the naked eye. In Your view, how can a horse and a quivering doe be united based on the Kozak's plan?

Today we don't discuss matters relating to status, be it Kozak's plan or any other plan.

You have absolutely correctly noticed that there were such periods when negotiations were aimed at protracting negotiations. I fully agree with you. I also estimate many periods which the sides faced in the course of negotiations as quasi-negotiations or imitation of negotiations. You know, even in this situation one can find certain positive essence, because despite the fact that negotiations in such case are absolutely without result and the time which is very often of high importance is dragged out, - meantime, such negotiations restrain the sides from confrontation or open withstanding.

I think there is no alternative to negotiations. One should be able to uphold his/her positions and be able to voice them.

It is difficult for me to comment on opinions of certain Russian or Ukrainian experts. As a political representative of Pridnestrovie, I proceed from official positions of the sides in the negotiations. Correspondingly, I am well aware of the opinion of Ukraine's and Russia's political representatives in the negotiations. I determine official position of Russia by what is voiced by Russia's representative in the 5+2 format, and he fully shares approach according to which socio-economic issues are of priority in the negotiations.

No issue about status is raised today by Russia in the negotiations. It voices no initiatives in this format. The 5+2 format is a platform which allows everyone to designate his/her own position.

Ukraine will chair OSCE in 2013. Does it have some other viewpoint in the negotiation process different from the Russian one?

Ukraine backed up the agenda. Ukraine backed up principles and procedures which we follow. Hence, Ukraine supports those approaches which we are guided by in our work today. During the latest round I didn't notice any changes in this position.

Let's come back to Moldova. We can witness an interesting situation there. Prime-Minister of Moldova Vlad Filat has recently stated in interview to one of the mass media that he expects his meeting with President Yevgeny Shevchuk to take place in the nearest future, in the course of which he hopes to solve a number of fundamental issues, including the state structure. How can you comment on this?

I have seen that statement and, to be honest, I was surprised. Our position was represented by the President's press-service. There is statement which clarifies this situation. I don't know if there was indeed such message or it is just an interpretation made by mass media. Nevertheless, I can say that both on the level of expert\\working groups, on the level of political representatives in 5+2 format and on the level of contacts between the President of the PMR and the Prime-Minister of the RM only those issues are discussed which became  at the heart of our interaction early this year. And there is a great number of such outstanding issues. Among them are granting of permits which would allow our freight carriers to move to Ukraine, resumption of passenger railway transportation (it seemed that we've already agreed upon this issue), problems in fields of communications, education, cooperation in the banking sector and many others.

There are agreements which we obliged ourselves to consider with while signing the documents on principles and procedures. We agreed that while working out new documents and decisions, we shall consider earlier signed agreements. After all, twenty years have passed already. Experts have agreed upon many issues before us. Today we should understand if there is political will to do it or not. And it may be rather difficult for me, as a political representative, to define it during negotiations. There are issues on which decision-makers of the highest level should meet and give each other direct responses.

As President's Press Service reports, such meeting can take place after Yevgeny Shevchuk returns from the Russian Federation. And only issues connected with resolving those social and economic problems which were not resolved in 5+2 format can become subject of such meeting.

As you know, there are some issues of social and economic block which have been discussed during the second round for the second time. But we couldn't work out any agreements. It appears that there is necessity to talk about it on the level of the President and the prime-minister.

So, if I understand you correctly, there is no need to talk about issues of the second basket if outstanding issues still remain in the first basket, where it is possible to reach agreements with good will of the two parties?

The case is that there are issues of the solely social nature in the second basket. And last round demonstrated that as soon as we discussed all the four issues of the first block, we started to discuss issues of the second block. Therefore, some of the issues of the first block shall shift to the next meeting.

And again I would like to point it out that the discussion during each round can be carried out around only those issues which have their content.

Nina Viktorovna, how much are you delighted with negotiations in Vienna now, percentagewise?

Number – is not a diplomatic instrument. I can say that I feel cautious optimism and cautious concernment simultaneously. I feel optimistic because we manage to move ahead slowly, we manage to fill negotiations space with content, with issues we really need to resolve even today. I feel concerned because we can see how difficult reciprocal moves are for the Republic of Moldova. We believe that on many issues decisions are dragged on. That is why if we try to evaluate the results of the negotiations process on its current stage we have something like 50% on 50%. It is a rather high result.

I wish our audience would learn about you not only as a woman – minister of foreign affairs of the PMR, but also as a woman – housekeeper and mother of a daughter. By the way, how does your daughter regard your work?

I think she got used to my work. She will be 13 y.o. this year and I am working in state agencies for 10 years. She takes me as I am. I don't have enough time to manage a household, but the family is a small world for people who spend most of their time working, with their colleagues and coworkers or somewhere on the road. And for me my family is the whole world.

С чего начинается утро в вашем доме, когда вам никуда не нужно спешить? Вы что-то готовите сами? How does ordinary morning begins at your home when you are not in haste? Do you cook something yourself?

No. If somehow I have a holiday, I just have my sleep out.

Well, and what dish do you prepare ideally?

I cook tastefully but I just have no time. When my friends eat something I prepared they admire this fact itself so much that they praise everything equally. I like to cook meat.

What do you prefer: coffee or tea?

Coffee. I am a great coffee lover.

Thus you prefer cordial drinks which thrill and make you work even more…

Which help you to wake up.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs has many tasks but I think all of them are solvable. Dniester TV wishes you all the best.

Thank you very much. I am also your admirer. I believe that such channel as Dniester TV is a serious step towards progress. They say, that those who own information – that own the world. I think you are making our information space wider than it was before.

We are always open for cooperation and I would like to inform that we are planning to launch a new project here, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will be a closed one. We are planning to invite representatives of Pridnestrovian mass media in order to give them opportunity to voice their own views.

Journalists often ask us questions. But rarely anyone asks journalists about their opinions on some topical issues.

It will be an interesting undertaking. Thank you very much. We shall certainly participate in it. Good luck.

Thank you.