Nina Shtanski: There is a Place for Pridnestrovie in Eurasian Processes


Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski gave an exclusive interview to the crew of the First Pridnestrovian TV Channel. The journalists were interested in issues of the Moldo-Pridnestrovian Settlement in the framework of the 5+2 negotiation format, as well as the ways of realization of the Eurasian strategic vector of Pridnestrovie.

Another round of consultations in the 5+2 format is over. Until recently, the main result was that the sides agreed to meet once again. Now new principles and procedures of the negotiation process have been adopted. Does the Moldovan side fulfill these principles and procedures? 

Indeed, another round concluded. As regards its outcome, I seem to be more optimistic. At least, we managed to make a little step forward in discussions of issues roaming from round to round. There were proposals which remained in our hands. We will have to discuss them in details within the next two months.

It's already known that the next meeting will take place in Dublin in mid-November. Before this, participants of the format in slightly narrowed 3+2 version will visit Kishinev and Tiraspol. As for the principles and procedures, little time has passed to analyze the degree of fulfillment of this document. On the whole, I am glad that recently we have managed not only to agree but also give legal effect to this document. Now we have the framework, and this considerably disciplines all participants of the negotiation process.

You will now meet more frequently with Mr. Karpov. In Your opinion, will the quantity of these meetings turn into quality?

It is a goal.

As a rule, before and after a regular round of consultations in the 5+2 format pseudo political scientists and pseudo analysts tell horror stories about the “third basket”. Was this “third basket” discussed in the framework of recent round of consultations and why so much attention is given to this third basket? Why those who spread these horror stories are afraid of it?

Probably, there are not so many drawbacks of today's negotiation process on the surface, once some experts and analysts prone to criticism have to invent something on their own.

Agenda which we managed to agree upon in Vienna is conventionally divided into three parts. We have long and painfully sought for a compromise. Finally we found unity in understanding that we should discuss first of all socio-economic issues. It constitutes the main negotiation field directly connected with legal, humanitarian and cultural issues. Thus, the second basket appeared.

The third basket which is conventionally called “issues of the comprehensive settlement”, institutional issues and issues of security was difficult to deal with. We didn't manage to agree upon its content. If we take an agreed and signed agenda in our hands today we will see that we have items which we can discuss in the first and second blocks of issues, and we will see that the third one is empty because the sides saw the content of this basket differently. And as a result when we were signing the Protocol on agreement of the agenda, we indicated that it was agreed in the 18th of April version. Hence, the framework of the negotiation space had been fixed at least before agenda was revised. Today we are guided by this document and can proceed only with that issues which have been agreed. Of course, there are those who wish to work with the third basket – and You and TV viewers, probably, have heard announcements of some of our western partners saying “we should proceed with three baskets at once”, or “we should proceed also with issues of a comprehensive settlement and security issues”, and even there were voluntary attempts to fill this basket. This will in no conditions be apprehended by the Pridnestrovian side. We will not participate in such discussions.

At the beginning of the year the President addressed an appeal to the bodies of state power. In particular this appeal reads that no political constructions can be imposed on Pridnestrovie from the outside, that we are open, we are interested in interaction with the external world, we are interested in development of our investment climate, in its' improvement; but this does not mean that somebody can impose something we do not agree with. Our position during negotiations will be strictly preserved.

Why do issues connected with the bridge over the Dniester near the village Gura-Bykuluy and the village Bychok and with the resumption of full-fledged railroad communication through Pridnestrovie “hang in midair”?

For us it is important not only to open the bridge between two centers of population, but to open transport artery – international transport corridor, to resume international transit in order for the residents of Pridnestrovie will be able to use these new possibilities. As you see from the reports of the Mass Media, today somebody wants to “wave with the sabre”, to cut the ribbon tomorrow and to leave many problems outside the negotiation process which is held on this issue. Our position means that the opening of the bridge in the village Bychok should be considered in complex, within the context of freedom of movement for people, goods and services.

If we are talking about the freedom of movement, we imply that this freedom will be used by the people of Pridnestrovie. We need to find such method that would allow Pridnestrovian people – the owners of personal motor transport and persons implementing cargo transportations to transport passengers, cargoes, to move without any obstacles on this transport corridor. From the position of today we face enormous quantity of restrictions. We will not be able to drive with the help of this road in Europe through the border with Moldova with our plates. We will not be able to do this if we have passport of the Russian Federation or Ukraine but we have no Moldovan residence permit. There are many other restrictions. These restrictions must be removed. It is time to solve these problems. These problems are chronic ones; nobody benefits from their presence.

In such conditions one may say that there is a need in certain impetus on the level of the top leaders of the sides.

This week information on future meeting between Yevgeny Shevchuk and Vlad Filat appeared. Could you please comment this situation?

 I agree that there is a need in an impetus. It was decided that the sides should come into agreement about the way passenger movement through Tiraspol in such directions as Moscow and Saint-Petersburg to be launched. The Moldovan side proposed one more direction – Rostov. We see that the issue remains unsettled. Owing to the initiative of Russia we are preparing for the negotiations to be held in Moscow on the level of railroads. We will continue to search for the decision of these problems. Since it does not seem to be possible to find the decision on a number of problems on the level of political representatives; political will must be revealed on a higher level. It means that the representatives of the leadership who give mandates to their political representatives should meet and discuss the reasons why political representatives are not able to come to agreement on the things seemingly agreed. The leadership of our republic clearly brought it out. As far as we decided to reach some results together, it means contacts should be maintained in order to control the process of reaching these results. And especially on the issues on which life of people depends – these are the issues of permissions, issues of education, healthcare, communications and many others.

This week you received representative delegation from Ireland. Ireland is passing chairmanship in the OSCE to Ukraine. Can you sum up some preliminary results of Dublin's chairmanship in this European organization? What are you expecting from Kiev's chairmanship in OSCE, taking into consideration the fact that Ukraine will have double role: as an OSCE chairman-in-office and a guarantor of Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement process?

I believe that Ireland's chairmanship was very productive one. First of all, Ireland has colossal experience in conflict settlement. Many issues which would not be so obvious for other states lie on the surface for Ireland.

As for Ukraine, Ukraine is a guarantor-state, Ukraine is a co-mediator in 5+2 format and, last but not the least, Ukraine is our neighbor. Of course, we are assuming that there is necessity to unblock Pridnestrovian economy. This is what Yevgeny Shevchuk spoke about during his visit to Ukraine last month. It is time to develop some adequate modern decisions. It is obvious that many decisions implemented in 2006 damage not only Pridnestrovie but also Ukrainians who are living here. Near-border trade also suffers. Odessa railways also bear losses. There are many negative factors on the south of Ukraine which are not welcomed by local population.

This week new edition of the Foreign Policy Concept of the PMR became accessible on the official site of the PMR's MFA. Soon it will be signed by the President Yevgeny Shevchuk and now it is being discussed by public community. Simultaneously Pridnestrovie is seeking ways to cooperate with future Eurasian Union and with Customs union. There is opinion that we can participate in all these integration processes only with Moldova. Can we participate without Moldova and what forms can this process take?

There is place for Pridnestrovie in these processes. Of course, it is very difficult to join institutionally some organizations directly, taking into consideration our unrecognized status. But it doesn't mean that we should not move ahead. It doesn't mean that we can not become part of Eurasian space.

We are conducting consultations with academic society of the Russian Federation on the level of our interdepartmental cooperation in order to develop forms of our involvement. It is implied that the Foreign Policy Concept is to create frames. It will define Eurasian integration as our major priority. It will give us, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular, ability to follow within the framework of certain decisions. It will grant us abilities to work in frames of strategies of integrating Pridnestrovie into this space. It is a difficult way but we've made our choice. President proclaimed Eurasian integration as the top-priority for our foreign policy, as our national idea. This idea has wide support in our society. The document which we prepared reflects interests of our society and corresponds to the will of Pridnestrovian people, expressed during the referendum in 2006. We shall continue to move on in this direction.