Interview of acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR VitalyIgnatiev to the representatives of state media of Pridnestrovie


 I part

Vitaly Viktorovich, you have been appointed to a new position most recently, but you have been engaging in the negotiations for a long time. How would you describe the current relations between Tiraspol and Kishinev? In what state are they today?

There is, unfortunately, a progressive ‘cooling off’ in the relations with the Republic of Moldova. The Moldovan side takes a number of unilateral actions that have nothing to do with the principles of the negotiation process and in general with the spirit and content of political dialogue. Measures of blackmail, threats, pressure cannot be part of the negotiating agenda, it is obviously. Therefore, such unilateral actions in the negotiation process gradually lead to the degradation of the mechanism step by step, significantly “efface” the atmosphere of trust, and infuse the negative into the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the amount of negative is growing, and the number of settled issues is not as high as we would like. Therefore, the Pridnestrovian diplomacy certainly will continue its efforts to resolve totality of problems: long-standing complex issues, having existed for a long time, and the instantaneous and rapidly emerging problems that arise as a result of the unilateral restrictions against Pridnestrovie. In particular, in late August of this year Moldova took a decision to ban the movement across the Moldovan-Ukrainian border of motor vehicles with Pridnestrovian registration, which, in our view, is an unacceptable step and limits the fundamental rights and freedoms of residents of Pridnestrovie.

I would also like to note that the role and position of the two sides are important in the dialogue. One side cannot fulfill all the agreements, be consistent, at a time when the other side ignores the existing rules, shirks its duties as a negotiating partner and tries to unilaterally exert pressure following depraved logic: “What is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to a bull.” As we know, nothing good will come of this logic. The 25-year period of contemporary history of independent Pridnestrovie shows that the pressure, blackmail, threats, blockades have never achieved their results. We also see the similar picture in the history of our brotherly republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, the way to put pressure on Pridnestrovie and to try ignoring the existing mechanisms and principles of the negotiations is absolutely dead-end. The faster the Moldovan side realizes it, the faster it will come to the paradigm of the common sense and of finding mutually constructive solutions, the faster we will be able to move forward.

It is clear that Pridnestrovie, Moldova and Ukraine are an interconnecting and communicating system, especially in the context of economic issues, and putting pressure on Pridnestrovie certainly cannot remain without results and without certain negative costs for the Moldovan side as well. Therefore, I would like us to focus our efforts on the search for constructive solutions. We have, for example, a good experience of finding compromises with regard to the resumption of rail freight communication through Pridnestrovie in 2012, there are a number of other achievements that truly provide benefits and profits to the economic agents both of Pridnestrovie and Moldova, in particular in the context of complex regional processes and global economic crises. It is better to orientate ourselves and focus our efforts on the search for solutions that would ensure social stability, help the population, and that, in the end, would create an atmosphere of trust of which everyone is talking - our European, Western, and Moldovan partners.

 In conclusion I would like to say that a big role and responsibility now lies on the guarantors, mediators and observers who have political and diplomatic tools to create a constructive environment that will allow the parties to move forward, to seek the resolution of problems, to follow the “tactics of small steps”, which was very successful for some issues. I think everyone is interested in the fact that the tension will not aggravate, in solving the problems for the sake of people, peace and stability.

Vitaly Viktorovich, the negotiations in the “5 + 2” format have not taken place for more than a year. Meetings of representatives of Moldova and Pridnestrovie are held more or less regularly. What is the current situation in the negotiation format - the format of “1 + 1”?

I would like to point out that, indeed, the last formal negotiations in the format “5 + 2” were held on 5-6 June, 2014. This year in April there were special informal consultations of the parties to the “5 + 2” format. It is important that both participants, journalists, and the general public to understand that the negotiations are not only the “5 + 2” meetings. The “5 + 2” format is a comprehensive balanced and integrated system. There are several levels of dialogue. The negotiations - it is also a communication of the political representatives, the activity of the 11 expert working groups, which are an auxiliary mechanism and are directly related to the negotiation process. The negotiations - it is also bilateral and multilateral consultations with the participation of the guarantors and mediators. The whole mechanism of the dialogue, which was created over many years, in my opinion, has very good functionality.

We have certain suggestions and opportunities to solve problems at each of the existing levels. If there is a technical solution for a particular sectoral problem at the level of activity of the expert groups, then the solution is proposed to the political representatives, and they avail their level of responsibility and opportunities, take actions to implement it.

Since 1994 until the present time there have been a high index of documents and agreements of the negotiation process, most of which, unfortunately, is not executed and is ignored by the Moldovan side. However, there are agreements that are reached at the present time, and according to which the Moldovan side takes on certain responsibilities. The decision was made on some aspects of freedom of movement, the corresponding Protocol decision was signed in February 2014, although it is violated too, unfortunately. The  decisions on rail freight traffic through Pridnestrovie were made, some problems related to the introduction of excise duties on a number of goods against Pridnestrovian economic agents were fixed, the environmental fee, customs duty were canceled, the issue of dismantling the cable car in the city of Rybnitsa was resolved. The recent decisions may be noted: the signing of Protocol decision on the OMI (obligatory motor insurance), it is also very important step forward. As you can see, the Moldovan side sometimes shows some consciousness, political will and rationality.

Unfortunately, the activities of political representatives and recent meetings with the political representative of Moldova do not suggest that the Moldovan side is fully aware of all the consequences of its unilateral actions. Explanations, which are provided to Pridnestrovie, are not intelligible. There are attempts to evade the responsibility, to refer to some external circumstances. Unfortunately, this approach is not constructive, it cannot meet the goals and objectives of the negotiation process, so we will try to use all resources at our disposal to solve the problems, regardless of whether the "5 + 2" format function in full, whether the meetings are held in Vienna, or the guarantors and mediators come to us in the framework of shuttle diplomacy, as Mr. Bogojevic does. We have, by the way, a very good example: Special Representative of the Russian Federation Sergey Gubarev participated in the previous meeting of the political representatives of the parties, the practice also happens to be, and, in my opinion, it should be extended, as it allows the participants to the negotiating structure to obtain objective information, to give specific recommendations, proposals, and to intensify different processes.

Vitaly Viktorovich replying to the previous question, you talked about the fact that the guarantors and mediators of the negotiation process have tools of influence on the parties to intensify the dialogue. It is clear that there are the tools of influence, is there in your opinion desire to intensify the negotiating process, because we know the position of Ukraine, which is, so to speak, not very constructive.

I think that it is better to address this question to the guarantors, mediators and observers. I believe that the declarations on the problems existing between us and the Republic of Moldova in the spirit of “we are for all the good and against the problems” at the moment have lost their relevance and freshness. It is necessary to take specific actions and solve specific problems: each of them has its own content, its negative consequences; real people suffer from each problem. This concerns, for example, the problem of deportation of Pridnestrovian citizens who permanently reside in the country. They have a family with whom they have lost touch, for the reason that the Republic of Moldova unilaterally decided to deport them. This problem is acute for concrete families. The same concerns to issues of criminal prosecution. The Pridnestrovian militiaman has already been in fact for two months in prison in the city of Athens. This is a particular problem, it has a concrete expression, it is not abstract. And the solution to this problem should also be most specific.

I am convinced that the guarantors, mediators and observers have an understanding of that issues need to be addressed (their declarations show this understanding), but I think it requires certain systematic efforts to ensure that the process to move from some sinusoid of entropy, on which unilateral actions are taken. The Moldovan side, apparently, thinks so: “Today we made some restrictions, tomorrow we introduce more, the next day we still work something out for Pridnestrovians because nothing bad happens.” It creates an illusion of impunity. I believe that it is counterproductive: nothing can last forever, especially the pressure on Pridnestrovians. As I said, we have a backbone, why we have the reason to develop our country, we have our citizens. We are responsible for ensuring their interests, our international partners in the negotiating process have a certain responsibility for the interests of the population living both in Pridnestrovie, and in Moldova. Therefore, I think they understand that the situation is extremely difficult, that it is impossible to achieve something good by unilateral actions, but you can destroy the little that has been created over the past years.

I think that the Moldovan side is also conscious of the whole danger of this kind of action. At least when it comes to problems with the movement of vehicles, the political representative of Pridnestrovie at the last meeting clearly and unequivocally urged Mr. Osipov to inform the Government of Moldova about the possible negative consequences in this part. Pridnestrovie will ensure the interests of its people, will defend them by all available means. No one should have no illusions that Pridnestrovie will silently watch as the agreements of the negotiation process are violated unilaterally, as how a comprehensive all-round pressure is put on us, ranging from the economic sphere and to security issues.

Continuing the discussion of this issue. At the last meeting Nina Shtanski said that the Pridnestrovian side had the impression that nothing depends on the political representatives. How to work in such a regime?

This is not quite correct interpretation - I think it concerned the political representative of Moldova, who has recently, in general, been similar to a certain negligent student at school who says that he was attacked by robbers, they stole his homework and register. There is a specific position, the status of certain officials in Pridnestrovie and Moldova, which have the authority in the resolution of these problems. We would very much like to see our Moldovan partners act consistently and responsibly including in the interests of Moldovan citizens which, due to a number of reasons, may also be violated. I think that the Moldovan side still come to understanding that it makes no sense to simulate a dialogue, to conduct meaningless communication, to talk about the fact that in Moldova there is the Prosecutor's Office, an independent branch of government, etc. These are very interesting stories, but for us they have no meaningful value, because there is an international format, the rights and obligations of all the parties, the principles and procedures for solving problems within this format and certain obvious negotiability and the responsibility of the State on whose behalf a concrete political representative acts. We hope that the Moldovan counterparts will understand this fully.

Vitaly Viktorovich, you have repeatedly talked about the problems existing in relations between Kishinev and Tiraspol. Which ones, in your opinion, require priority decisions? What can and should be addressed first?

I have focused on the most acute problems. This, of course, the newly emerged problem of restrictions on the movement of vehicles registered in Pridnestrovie through the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. It is a complex problem tics as concerns individual citizens and business companies. Another problem, no less acute, which basically created the conditions for the suspension of meetings in the "5 + 2" format - this is the problem of initiation of a politically-motivated criminal cases on the part of the Republic of Moldova. Unfortunately, their avalanche increases, and Mr. Osipov does not even have a list of the Pridnestrovian citizens against whom criminal cases are initiated. Previously, the Moldovan side was able to provide us with such a list, this year we have also provided a list of defendants in criminal cases initiated against representatives of Moldova. Today, the Moldovan authorities still find it difficult even to say how many of the Pridnestrovian citizens are under criminal prosecution.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of problematic issues, all of them sound familiar, and that means that we need to take a proactive stance, seeking new resources and opportunities to involve the guarantors and mediators to participate more actively in these processes. The negotiation process is not a monologue. This process, which is implemented in the communication, as a minimum, between the two sides. There should be a normal robust communication to enable it to exist.