Nina Shtanski: “We Do not Negotiate with Moldova on the Status of Pridnestrovie and any Political Constructions”

Nina Shtanski: “We Do not Negotiate with Moldova on the Status of Pridnestrovie and any Political Constructions”

The next round of multilateral negotiations with the participation of Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova Vlad Filat and President of unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (the PMR) Yevgeny Shevchuk and European, American, Russian and Ukrainian intermediaries was held in Rottach-Egern, Germany. The participants of the settlement of Pridnestrovian conflict, including Western ones, expressed satisfaction with establishment of dialogue between official Kishinev and Tiraspol. “” talked with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski on the perspectives of the settlement of Pridnestrovian conflict and on new external doctrine of Pridnestrovian leadership.

Warming of relations between Moldova and Pridnestrovian region, that split off from it, only several years ago most likely was considered to be a fantastic variant. Nevertheless, the situation has changed considerably since coming to power in Tiraspol of new staff, headed by President Yevgeny Shevchuk. During only six month of continuance in office Shevchuk met with Moldovan leadership, represented by Premier Filat, for three times. The next, forth meeting will be held in July in Vienna.

- Dear Nina Viktorovna, thank you for finding the time to answer the questions of “”. President Yevgeny Shevchuk, whose team you are representing, heads Pridnestrovie for almost six months. Many politicians, experts, journalists both from Europe and from the CIS consider that newly elected head of Pridnestrovie will manage to put Moldova-Pridnestrovie relations into motion. Which is the difference between Shevchuk and his team and old power represented by Igor Smirnov in this respect?

- Let me thank your site for the interest shown towards the range of problems of settlement of Pridnestrovie-Moldova relations. I have been reading your resource and once I have already answered the questions of Politcom. Concerning the opinions, that it will be possible to put the conflict into motion, I will dare to cite the words of Yevgeny Shevchuk, said on one of the briefings: “I treat outlined progress in the process of settlement with restrained optimism.” Even at that time when he headed Pridnestrovian Supreme Soviet, Shevchuk diligently repeated, that there is no alternative to the negotiations and all the discords should find their solution only at the negotiation table. It is not surprising, that already in his inaugural speech he had marked the necessity of concentrating on development of good neighborly relations; several months later in his address to the organs of state power the President gave corresponding assignments in this direction.

Today the process of negotiation passes rather active phase. We and our partners on negotiations are concentrated upon settlement of socio-economical issue, solving of old problems. There is a simultaneous dialogue on all levels. It is a level of expert groups, where specialists in different spheres search for possible decisions and mutually acceptable mechanisms of implementation of earlier achieved agreements. By the way, during the years of negotiations there were a little bit less than 200 of these agreements. Official negotiations on the level of political representatives in 5+2 format were resumed on diplomatic level; this year during two rounds we succeed in coordination of principles and procedures of holding of negotiations and agenda for negotiations. Contacts on the highest level are being kept up and developed.

- Dmitry Rogozin – a man, having reputation of rather tough and in many respects uncompromising political and state figure was appointed to the post of Special Representative of Kremlin for Pridnestrovie. What does Pridnestrovie reckon on after this appointment?

- Dmitry Olegovich is talented, experienced and, dare I say, meticulous diplomat, professional. Right after the appointment he actively joined in the work on Pridnestrovian direction in spite of a high post and a wide range of other powers and obligations not connected with Pridnestrovian settlement. The activity organized by him already brings considerable results to the Pridnestrovians. Without a doubt, his diplomatic experience on, mildly speaking, complicated directions will make a valuable contribution also to the process of Pridnestrovian settlement. Besides, Dmitry Olegovich is a co-chairman of Russia-Moldova Intergovernmental Commission.

I am sure that active involvement in this work will facilitate search for constructive decisions, including those which directly affect interests of Russian citizens, residing in Pridnestrovie.

I am sure that active involvement in this work will facilitate search for constructive decisions, including those which directly affect interests of Russian citizens, residing in Pridnestrovie.

- One more question about Russia. It is obvious, that Russian state aids Pridnestrovie economically and politically, and that this aid is invaluable for Pridnestrovians. On the other hand, Russia still officially adheres to position of recognition of territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. By the way, it was confirmed by Putin in his decree “On the Measures of the Implementation of the Russian Federation Foreign-Policy Course” almost immediately after he took the office…

- Indeed, this help is invaluable, starting from guarantor functions, by carrying out which Russia is in practice securing preservation of peace and stability on the banks of Dniester river, and ending with considerable and much needed in conditions of heavy social-economic situation humanitarian and financial aid to Pridnestrovie. As for the mentioned official position, it is indeed permanent for many years and it is again stated in the new decree. But today we are not negotiating with Moldova on the issues of status of Pridnestrovie or about any political constructions. We put solution of practical issues on both banks at the head and role of Russia is very high here.

- What is the role of Ukraine in Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement process? Can it be called a well-wisher of your country? During presidential term of Viktor Yushchenko approach towards official Tiraspol was not a benevolent one. Now, under the president Yanukovich, at least, represented by current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Konstantin Grishchenko, it seems that situation is beginning to change. What can you say about it?

- As far as in 1995, in June 1995, sides of the conflict expressed their aspiration for strengthening status of mediator in negotiation process. By adoption of Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Security Guarantees between the Republic of Moldova and Pridnestrovie the sides appealed to the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE to become guarantors of implementation of this agreement. Russia and Ukraine expressed their readiness to become guarantor-States in settlement process and presidents of these countries signed Joint Declaration in Moscow on January 19, 1996. Both states are key actors in the settlement process and their role is a leading one, which is determined by a number of geopolitical factors and by the circumstance that there are about 100 thousands citizens of Ukraine and about 170 thousands citizens of Russia residing in Pridnestrovie, which is more than half of the population of the republic.

I would say that in the whole, Ukrainian policy in the region of Moldova-Pridnestrovie conflict is affected by many heterogeneous factors. These are Ukraine-Moldova territorial dispute, partnership relations with Moldova in framework of different international organizations and programs; number of difficulties in Ukraine-Romania relations; Ukraine-Russia dialogue is actively developing; Ukrainian course towards Eurointegration and others.

Active participation of Ukraine in Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement process, to my opinion, is an appropriate platform for strengthening international authority of Ukraine, especially taking into consideration upcoming Ukrainian chairmanship in the OSCE in 2013. The last one may, as it seems to me, give Ukraine additional possibilities to contribute the settlement process.

- What will be the goals of official Tiraspol during upcoming international talks on Pridnestrovie in Vienna in July?

- First of all, we aim to resolve old problems with new approaches. Or, at least, to develop some joint approach to resolving some of them. During the last round of talks we manage to finally agree upon the text of the document, defining principles and procedures of the negotiation process and to agree upon the agenda of the negotiations. This document, though it was agreed upon, is not signed yet. It is to be done. However, there are several conditions which call us to approach this work more thoroughly. I mean those interpretations which were made by Moldovan officials about the equality principle during the negotiations.

I would like to explain it. Because of different status of the participants of the 5+2 format – the EU and the USA have rights of observers – the specified principle was agreed upon with certain reservation and with reference to the documents which define this status. Thus, this document not only does not change the status of observers and does not extend their rights, but it does not allow to do it even theoretically in framework of negotiation process.

Additionally, on the initiative of the Pridnestrovian side, all participants were literally spelled out in the document. The document fixes, “Participants of the Permanent Conference are: the sides – the Republic of Moldova and Pridnestrovie, mediators – the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE, as well as observers – the European Union and the United States of America”. This allows giving unambiguous answer to the question what are the sides in the negotiation process. The sides are Moldova and Pridnestrovie, without any limitations. However, despite this seemingly obvious fact, Moldovan interpretations boldly picked up by mass media brought in serious confusion on both sides of the Dniester. This obliges us to continue the work with the document at the forthcoming round in Vienna. Now we will have to discuss the situation, elaborate clarifying wordings and find in what form they should be fixed. I hope very much that apart from that we will productively work in the framework of the so-called socio-economic basket of the negotiation agenda.

- In general, to Your mind, is the 5+2 format still of current interest? Or it has worked itself out?

-  I have no doubts that none of the actors involved in the settlement process questions topicality of this format. I consider it to be great achievement of the mediators, especially of the Russian diplomacy, that at the end of the previous year official rounds in the 5+2 format were resumed after a continuous break. Today, Political Conference is the only efficient negotiation mechanism.  Someone can object and say that the sides manage to discuss and even settle some matters within 1+1. It is so, but this format is not stable at the moment, it hasn't demonstrated its potency and effectiveness so far. Contacts and the number of contacts are not always synchronized with quality and efficiency. Though the latter is certainly what we are striving at. It is also important that 5+2 is a multilateral complex negotiation format which allows for the EU and USA to be officially involved in discussions of issues relating to the process of Moldova-Pridnestrovie relations settlement. However, we shouldn't forget repeated attempts to transform this configuration. Since 2004, when the Moldovan side first suggested that Pridnestrovie be excluded from the given format, ideas to include Romania and increase EU's role by granting it a status of a mediator (on equal terms with the OSCE) have been forwarded more than once. 

At some point, negotiation process decreased practically to the level of quasi-negotiations with the use of imitation strategy. More than 170 agreements concluded within negotiation process are not fulfilled, but at the same time the sides don't withdraw their signatures. This has a certain impact on the whole format, and casts shadow over it. Today format has gained a new momentum. Negotiation agenda is being formed where issues of practical collaboration in socio-economic field are foregrounded. Apart from that, the sides have agreed upon the principle according to which earlier reached agreements will be taken into account during elaboration of new decisions, and also have agreed to rigorously fulfill agreements. It is also significant that now, while working out decisions and agreements, sides will have to define mechanisms ensuring their realization.

- You have already established Yourself as a state official, particularly if consider Your young age. Would You like to make a part-time party career? Given that authorities in power in any country have to rely on a particular organizational and party structure. After all, previously You had one of the leadership roles in the Renewal Organization which today has transformed into pro-presidential political party.

- Today I don't have party career in my plans. Many colleagues and friends of mine are members of the Renewal Party.  I share party's approaches to reforming of economy and optimization of the state administration system. Pridnestrovian MFA actively develops collaboration with civil society institutions in various forms, and I am sure dialogue with parties will develop as well. 

Questions by Artem Buzila

Original material: