Press Club “Uncut Talk” Took Place in the PMR’s MFA with the Participation of European Journalists

Press Club “Uncut Talk” Took Place in the PMR’s MFA with the Participation of European Journalists

Today, the MFA of the PMR hosted the next meeting in the framework of the press club “Uncut talk”. Taking part in the talk with Deputy Chairperson of the Government of the PMR for International Cooperation, Foreign Minister N. V. Shtanski for the first time in such format were foreign journalists from a number of known European media: ORF (Austria), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Germany), Der Tagesspiegel (Germany), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Switzerland), Austrian Press Agency (АРА) (Austria). The representatives of Pridnestrovian media were invited as well.

Nina Shtanski opened the press-club by welcoming the participants and touching on a range of topical issues faced by Pridnestorvie at the present time.  We present the full transcript of the speech by the Minister.

“I am pleased to welcome you. Some words about our press club. We created it some years ago for talking with Pridnestrovian journalists. At the beginning we tried to set our dialogue within some frameworks and rules, but that idea failed: we have always changed these rules because journalists want so. Therefore, I am glad to inform you that the journalists are the most important people at the meetings in this building, not the diplomats.  Thus, the diplomats are “guests” here.

The traditional format of our communication means not only a possibility for journalists to ask questions, journalists also can express their opinions and criticize us. We quite often asked journalists what they would do in some situation. There have been international experts in our press-club, including experts in political science and conflict resolution, but foreign journalists have never visited us. We will deem that this is novelty having the right for existence. Thus, I ask you to make yourself at home.

Some words about Pridnestrovie. Of course, I do not doubt many of you before coming to us received the information about Pridnestrovie from different sources.

Unfortunately, when getting information from foreign sources we try to know what they write about Pridnestrovie abroad we become discouraged very often by those stupid things we find there. The question has always arises: why did not the journalist come here himself? He may like being here, may be not – I allow such possibility – but it is always better if he will write that he sees by himself, and will give his own conclusions.

So, what is today's Pridnestrovie? Pridnestrovie is a very small but established state. Pridnestrovie is comparatively young state, we will soon mark its 25th anniversary, but many independent and internationally recognized countries in the post-Soviet space are our coevals. I point that out: Pridnestrovie has been recognized by people living here. Yes, we do not have internationally recognized status (and this greatly makes our situation difficult), but there are countries that are internationally recognized and are not recognized by the population, social and political situation in these countries is very difficult. The internal sovereignty does not depend anyhow on what they think about this state abroad. 

Well, Pridnestrovie is a de-facto established state. This is a socially oriented state; we provide social guarantees by ourselves for various population groups. We develop despite the objective reality: I talk about the reality because these are foreign journalists who very often do not know what this reality is -only what is on the surface is always seen.

Recently, a large group of young diplomats visited us. They were so-called young ambassadors of different countries; the group was comprised of about forty persons. Many of them are students who study political science and diplomacy. Our Press Secretary proposed to conduct an experiment that I find very interesting:  we got questionnaires out to young people from different parts of the world in which we asked them a question “What does Pridnestrovie mean for you?” It was quite interesting. The most widespread opinion was “Pridnestrovie is pro-Russian state”.  And it is true.

In 2006 people put an end to that question: the part of what country they would like to be. The voter turnout in the referendum in 2006 was unprecedented high: more than 97 percent of people voted for living in an independent state with subsequent integration into the Russian Federation.

I want to draw your attention to the following: Pridnestrovie is multiethnic society.  There are three large national diasporas: Russians, Ukrainians, and Moldovans, also about twenty small ethnic groups. But, meanwhile, Moldovans makes up one third of our population and are the largest diaspora. Quite often our foreign guests are surprised by this fact because many countries believe that only Russians live here. Returning to the referendum issue, I note that another question was asked in the referendum: “Do you want to join to Moldova?” We understand that as a minimum a third of the 97 percent of population voted for the unification with Russia were ethnic Moldovans. They voted so despite the fact that they had been living here for many years under difficult social and economic conditions.

I would like to say a few words about the economic blockade. I do not know whether you have had the opportunity to walk around Tiraspol, whether you have been in a shop or somewhere else, but some of our foreign friends after walking around the city came here and asked us: “What blockade do you talk about? There is no any blockade, we have been in your shops and have seen Polish apples there, Turkish tomatoes, meat from Brazil, and you, Pridnestrovians, speak of an economic blockade”. The answer is very simple: if you came to Pridnestrovie once, and saw hungry, poor, ill people, and there were not any products in shops, we would not speak with you about the blockade. We would talk about a terrible socio-economic disaster, about a collapse. I am confident the international community in the 21st century will prevent such a scenario.    

Meanwhile,  as a person born in Pridnestrovie, grown here, and created a family, I say you so: I would like that Pridnestrovian apples and tomatoes, Pridnestrovian meat were sold in Pridnestrovian shops. But, today our economy cannot allow the situation when we fully provide all the things needed, and this is the manifestation of the economic blockade too. The climate, fertile lands, human resources would allow us to provide for ourselves, if we were not under continuous pressure. 

The most important aspect of the blockade is the blockade of our export. Our economy is export dependent, we live by selling goods produced here. We have something to sell; unlike agrarian Moldova the industry complex we inherited from the Soviet Union was not only preserved here, but also a list of products is expanded. We develop such industry sectors as machinery, instrument engineering. We have ferrous metal industry, building and chemical industries are well developed, and we produce a lot of textiles, shoes, and clothes. On the whole, we mainly produce industrial goods. The agrarian sector is developed as well, but it is not key unit in the formation of our budget. Thus, if we have the possibility to sell the things we produced here, we get taxes and we can provide social guarantees; if this possibility is blocked, we, accordingly, are not able to develop properly.      

Today, in order to provide our products to be exported, it should also become “Moldovan” – we cannot deliver our goods either to Russia or to the European Union without Moldovan documents. In order to provide our products to come on the markets of your countries, they are subjected to double taxation, and of course, it increases the cost of the products. But it should be competitive! Consequently, in order to economize the enterprises reduce the number of jobs, do not re-equip their facilities and so forth. I mean they are on far from equal footing with similar producers in the world. Certainly, in order to preserve these enterprises and jobs the state uses subsidy. Colossal support is provided by the Russian Federation: the gas will just suffice to mention.

The blockade has also other dimensions. The transport blockade: you will not see a truck from Pridnestrovie anywhere in the world– Moldova has banned to issue us permits. Therefore, in order to transport our own products to the markets of other countries, we should use only Moldovan carriers. Obviously, they earn well for doing it. River and air communications once existing here have been fully blocked. Of course, business is interested in having these additional transport possibilities. 

The investment blockade. Moldova constantly changes the rules of the game for our economic agents while the foreign investor requires predictability and stability.

There is a political and even diplomatic blockade. For example, our Moldovan colleagues are annoyed by Pridnestrovie's international contacts. Pridnestrovie does not have a possibility to speak from international platforms about the situation existing here or problems of people living here. I should stress the agreement on such possibility has been reached in the negotiation process, and formally Pridnestrovie has the right to speak from the platform of international organizations on those issues which affects interests of Pridnestrovie and people living here, but in practice Moldova blocks this possibility. This year it has reached the point where Moldova's  diplomatic department sends out notes verbal to the embassies of different countries accredited in the RM so that the diplomats limit their contacts with the Pridnestrovian side. 

I do not think such steps by the Republic of Moldova are effective. Furthermore, I believe that they are harmful for the image of Moldova itself. Meanwhile, the international contacts are not only ambassadors who are in Kishinev. Moldova recommends to the majority of the members of international organizations never to come here. It has reached the point where international relations experts are given “guidelines” in which they are recommended to avoid contact with people in streets because “they may be aggressive”; not to stay in Pridnestrovian hotels for a night (“this can be dangerous”); of course, it is written there that Pridnestrovian leaders, heads and politicians of the republic are “agents of propaganda”.

Finally, the social dimension of the blockade. Definitely, we lose the youth. We cannot under such circumstances create all the conditions to retain young people here. You might say there is such phenomenon in neighbouring countries – yes, there is. If we were not impeded to develop, Pridnestrovie would be able to ensure development of the economy that would completely stem migration from here. Our industrial potential with the full involvement of all plants and factories allows not only to provide jobs for all Pridnestrovian people, but also to attract work forces from neighbouring countries.      

A few brief theses that you, probably, will hear only from me. You cannot find this information in English on the Internet, unfortunately. So, the crime rate in Pridnestrovie is one-third lower than in the neighbouring countries Moldova and Ukraine. Our police interact with the police of many states, including Germany, Italy, Austria, and the USA. This year due to the efforts taken by the Pridnestrovian police serious crimes were prevented, including the ones in Europe. For instance, due to the signals of the Pridnestrovian police a hired killer was arrested - thus, it managed to prevent a contract killing in Germany. This year a few very expensive cars were returned to Italy which had been stolen there, but the thefts were revealed only by the Pridnestrovian police. A few years earlier the cars had been going quietly in Moldova.   Owing to the interaction between the Pridnestrovian police and the banking sector a criminal group was revealed, which was engaged in swindles related to American credit cards in Moldova, Ukraine, and Pridnestrovie.  On the whole, we cooperate well and successfully with law enforcement bodies of other states what, unfortunately, I cannot say in relation to our partners in Moldova. In 2004 our Moldovan colleagues abrogated the agreement with us on cooperation in law enforcement area. Many criminals who are wanted in Pridnestrovie, unfortunately, take refuge in Moldova.  Another positive element you will be hardly told about elsewhere: the birth rate in Pridnestrovie grows. In my view, it is the indicator in terms of how comfortable people feel there where they live. Need I say, for example, that after the 1992 war many families decided not to have children? In Pridnestrovian schools about thirty children are usually enrolled in the first form, but there was a period when hardly ten children entered the first form. Last year we created two and a half thousand additional places in kindergartens - this speaks for itself. Children are born, that means we have a future.In the end, I want to request you. When you will analyse your impressions of Pridnestrovie, try to imagine that you are a young man born here, of twenty-twenty four years old. You never lived in the collapsed USSR, you were born in the independent PMR, for example, in 1992-1993. You have never lived in the Republic of Moldova, but you have always realized that this is your neighbor as well as Ukraine. You got education in Pridnestrovie. When you were ill, you received treatment here. You obtained a passport here, then served in the Army, got employment, created a family, had a child. If you were such a person, how would you answer the questions you were asking me now?I happened to answer questions of such young people, I taught in the University, and a full audience of such people was before me. They were always interested in a single question: “Why do we need for the negotiations with the Republic of Moldova?” – they do not understand it”.  To be contibued (answers to journalists' questions) …