“In the Focus”: Nina Shtanski Answered on Topical Questions on Air of the First Pridnestrovian TV Channel

“In the Focus”: Nina Shtanski Answered on Topical Questions on Air of the First Pridnestrovian TV Channel

On December 6, 2012 program “In the Focus” aired on the First Pridnestrovian TV Channel with participation of Deputy Head of Government of the PMR on issues of International Cooperation, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski. We publish herein full record of answers of the head of foreign office of Pridnestrovie on answers of the host.

- Today Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OSCE started its work in Dublin. Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement is in the agenda. Nina Viktorovna, should we expect anything from this large-scale forum?

- Yes, it is an important international event. As you know, today there are considerable discussions on the ways to generally reform the OSCE. There is a number of initiatives, one of them includes creation or transformation of the OSCE in the security community. Thus, new problems and new topical goals are coming to the fore. First of all, these are issues of combating international terrorism, consolidated approach and development of corresponding effective mechanisms and other transnational challenges. There was an initiative, coming from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, that there should be special visa regime formed inside this security community. It means that issue of liberalization of visa regime is topical not only inside of the European Union, but inside such organizations as the OSCE. I believe that serious attention shall be given to these matters during the today's work of the council. Of course, there are such issues as conflicts settlement and consolidated approach in the agenda. Especially since Ukraine, as you know, is taking over the rotating chairmanship in the OSCE from Ireland and is going to proceed with serious and object-oriented work in assisting settlement of conflicts both in the Caucasus and in Pridnestrovie.

- Shortly before today's Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OES Head of the Mission in Moldova Jennifer Brush said, that there is no need to invent a bicycle, that there is such ‘givenness' as ‘special status of Pridnestrovie as part of the Republic of Moldova'. Is this her personal opinion and why is it ‘givenness'?

- There is a paradox in the very formulation already. Maybe there are some problems with the interpretation, at least I hope so. Because it is not customary among us, the diplomats, to play off our personal opinion as a given. As you know, in reality there are goals of the negotiations process in the current format of the Permanent Conference for settlement of Pridnestrovian conflict. These goals and tasks have been defined in the very beginning of the process of establishing of this format – they are defined in the so-called ‘Bratislava Document' where it is stated that this mechanism is created in order to work out, to coordinate and then to record in the form of written agreements to the political leadership the general parameters of the comprehensive resolution. There are no other goals there. This is the given because it is fixed in the document, because this document has legal validity and, fortunately, because nobody recalled their signatures. Even more, the provisions of this document have been implemented this year into the principles and procedures of the negotiation process. With great difficulties, as you know, but fortunately this document has been approved in the framework of negotiations this April. I don't know how one can ignore provisions of these documents and tell us that vision of one of the actors involved in the negotiations is something given. I don't know and don't want to comment such personal views. Because if we are speaking about the OSCE as an organization, apparently the OSCE as an organization is to express common stand. To my mind, this common stand is that we have today the Permanent Conference and the OSCE participates in its work, that we have principles and procedures, we have coordinated agenda and in these frames we are proceeding with our work.

- What about the visions of other participants of the settlement process, both the mediators and the observers, on the settlement? What is ‘givenness' for them?

- Vision on the final settlement is indeed problematic issue. This question was discussed very actively during last round in Dublin. There was discussion on the issue about further perspectives in our agenda. This discussion was an uneasy one. It demonstrated that the sides of the conflict and participants involved in settlement process have different opinions on resolution of conflict.

Pridnestrovian side argues against any predetermination of this resolution. If we indeed managed to gather at the negotiations table and managed to agree to resume work in official format and managed to work productively the whole year, we should search for some common grounds. We should not place a priority on our own visions because today it is quite obvious that the sides have principally different visions. Moldovan side considers that some unification, reintegration, name it as you like, of Moldova is the final goal of settlement process. Pridnestrovian side appeals to the fact that in January during the meeting in Odessa between the leaders of the sides – Yevgeny Shevchuk and Vlad Filat – there was another goal being defined. For that moment that goal was common. And I did not hear that Moldovan side recalled this goal officially.

It was fixed in joint communiqué and on January 27 in Odessa the sides decided that their common objective is to take such measures in the framework of socio-economical interaction that will improve wellbeing of people living on the both banks of the Dniester. To create the atmosphere of confidence that will become a foundation for continuation of political dialogue. This means that one thing is inseparably linked with another – it is common objective; here we have the same vision, the same understanding of the things that should be done in order to reach it. Nobody excludes the fact that we may have other objectives; but today they are not the purpose of our interaction at the negotiating table. Of course, the discussion in Dublin revealed the difference between these objectives; but we proceed from the fact that there is no alternative to negotiations; and that is why we must strictly follow the designated plan in order to show each other step by step that we are able to interact in a constructive manner, that we can afford to trust each other and we must create the platform for political dialogue. The things we witness today – do not even mean the attempt to create a foundation; it is like removal of blockage; and we must pay attention to the fact that negotiations last twenty years, but not two or ten; we must remember that the negotiations were frozen for six years and there were no negotiations on official level; there were some kind of sporadical and political consultations which did not bind to anything. Today we reach agreements and we implement them, we develop joint mechanisms of interactions; some steps are successful, some are not, but the things that were done allow us to think that we are moving in a right direction, because if we turn to past experience we will see that negotiations periodically reached deadlock because the sides clashed on absolutely incompatible positions. To my mind, if international actors assist not polarization of the sides but the search of those common things that can be done today together, it will be constructive.

- The Moldovan side made its' own proposal on package agreement submitted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pridnestrovie – building of common economical space. What does it mean?

- Right now it is difficult to say what is meant under the building of common economical space. Let me remind you, that this idea is not new; moreover the agreement on creation of common economical space was once reached at the negotiating table. Nobody recalled their signatures from the existing agreement; but the sides did not succeed in its' implementation. I am not accustomed to comment as a new idea the things we faced earlier. I should say that we had a whole number of questions to Moldovan initiative, we voiced them in Dublin and we hope to receive answers because there is a certain concept of content, of filling that has not yet been submitted to us by the Moldovan side. As for the package proposal from Pridnestrovie, we submitted it here during the meeting of political representatives; our conceptual vision means that we actually need common space – common space of socio-economical interaction; and we fill this common space with our work during the year. This common space of interaction which must be the space of successful joint activity, which must be the space of the confidence that is so important for us, includes such sections as: freedom of movement, problems in the sphere of telecommunications, interaction in informational sphere in the whole, education, development of transport, here I am talking about railroad transport, because we have certain problems in the sphere of passenger transport, automobile, river transport, and interaction in order to solve the problems with civil aviation. Of course, there are also legal problems which concern the provision of citizens of the other countries living in Pridnestrovie with consular service. We are talking first of all about the opening of general consulates of Russia and Ukraine, about the formation of interaction which will allow to make legal provision for people who face the problems of nostrification, legalization of documents and many other problems. So, this space in package proposal is partly filled with the initiatives worked through on the level of experts; besides (it is important for us) each paragraph is supported by the agreements signed before. To day we lead our negotiations proceeding from one very important principle: while developing new agreements the sides consider the arrangements reached earlier. Should I mention that in 2001 after a long-term, thorough work of the experts the agreement on mutual recognition of documents was already reached, should I say that according to Memorandum of 1997 Pridnestrovie can develop international contacts, including those of economical and cultural nature on its' own? Package proposal of Pridnestrovie is an integral and balanced vision of what we can do for the short term and what should be done to create the foundation. It is difficult to have further vision of the fourth stock when there is no basement.

- Won't the Moldovan side misapprehend this as creation of the common economic space, trust or something else? Won't it get any political colouring? Let us say, common economic space is certainly a common one, double customs clearance for Pridnestrovian enterprises is also common economic space.

- No secret that Moldovan initiatives more than once indicated that we need common tax area, common monetary area and so on – that is, to have meaningful discussions of this topic we need substantial content of the given concept. Let us refer to international practice: common economic space is built between equitable subjects, CES needs joint body. By the way, Moldovan side suggests that we establish some kind of commission. If such body is established, it is usually of supra-national character, and in international practice common monetary area often means not common currency but rather mutual recognition of currencies. Many questions arise here, and we have mentioned them before. So far, we haven't received answers. It is difficult to specify what is exactly voiced by an international partner. Apparently, Moldovan side should define and specify some moments. I think our questions which we raised during negotiations – by the way, questions regarding this initiative were also asked by other participants – will be stimulus for this proposal to be introduced and filled with content and structuralized. We will have to discuss this.

- This year Pridnestrovian side paid most attention to free movement of goods, people and cargo, but for the time being no concrete results have been achieved with the Moldovan side. Why is it so? Basically, we know why: because when it is time to do something, Moldovan side has nothing but words.

- Negotiations are generally not a simple process. In fact, most active efforts we give to the issue of free movement. We can say without much exaggeration that during this year and in the course of the previous round of talks most time was devoted to this question. It seemed we were step away from making a decision as we managed to agree upon overwhelming majority of items and formulate them in mutually acceptable form. However, no concord was reached as to conceptual aspects of this issue. The point is that position of the Moldovan side in relation to free movement was transformed several times in the course of negotiations and proposals were changed – some were withdrawn, new ones were introduced. We cannot agree on such principled positions as registration of motor vehicles which can carry out international cargo and passenger transportation. The task was to create some common mechanism to provide Pridnestrovian agents with permissive documents, and we know without permits we won't be able to use possibilities of a new international transport corridor which today is actually blocked. Here we mean opening of Bychok-Gura Bykului bridge, which belongs to international route M14. We won't be able to use this corridor if we don't solve a whole number of problems, and the Pridnestrovian side proceeds from the fact that there should be complex approach to this issue. Complex approach means to solve the problem of crossing the border by citizens who have Russian and Ukrainian passports permanently residing in Pridnestrovie. Today, as you know, we face problems at border-crossing. Our economic agents should be put in equal conditions when carrying out international carriages – hence, they should get the same permissive documents. This business sector must develop, there should be no discrimination. We should agree that we reaffirm our commitment to Agreement of 1998 where it is specified that restored bridges will never be used by the sides for military purposes and we should necessarily fix that the sides guarantee this, because speaking today about trust without general system of guarantees is difficult.  

- Looking back into history of the negotiation process we can mark that the new year often promises some surprises from the Moldovan side to the Pridnestrovian people. What shall we expect - surprises or, perhaps, any progress in the negotiation process?

- We should aim exceptionally at achieving the progress. In general, despite the fact that I was rather critical about many of our conversations, actions and failures during this year, I understand that we should move forward, no matter how difficult it may be. Our predecessors also faced difficulties. We should expect positive result because this is what people are waiting. Otherwise, people won't be interested in what we are doing. As long as well-being of people depends on diplomatic efforts we should move forward with optimism. A fortiori, there should be no place for gloomy mood and pessimism as we approach the New Year.