Vladimir Yastrebchak Holds Briefing for Pridnestrovian Media

On November 11, 2009, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Vladimir Yastrebchak held briefing for journalists of Pridnestrovian media. The previous month was rich in various diplomatic meetings: informal consultations between the participants of Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement in Vienna and Tiraspol, visit of the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine R. Bogatiryova to Pridnestrovie, meetings of the PMR MFA leadership with its colleagues in Russia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia. The results of this work became the main subject of the briefing.

“How far does rhetoric of the new Moldovan authorities correspond to their actions in relation to the problems of Moldova-Pridnestrovie relations settlement?” – was the first question to the head of the Pridnestrovian diplomacy. Vladimir Yastrebchak noted that statements and declarations of the official Chisinau answer Tiraspol's expectations, but no real actions are being performed. The Minister told that acquaintance with political representative from Moldova Victor Osipov and exchange of views took place in Vienna. “We have heard from the Moldovan representative that Chisinau is willing to solve problems of “non-political character” which are more important for the citizens of Moldova and Pridnestrovie. We handed the list of such top-priority issues to all participants of informal consultations in Vienna,” the diplomat told. At journalists' request, the Minister clarified that these were issues regarding free movement of people and cargo, free functioning of the Pridnestrovian economy, problems of criminal prosecution of the PMR officials on the part of Moldovan authorities and administrative prosecution of the citizens of Russia and Ukraine who have  permanent residence in Pridnestrovie; issues of normal activity of international transport operators collaborating with Pridnestrovian enterprises; entry ban for cars with Pridnestrovian numbers at Moldova-Ukraine border check-points; non-recognition of Pridnestrovian documents in Moldova as violation of earlier accords, and other issues. The Minister stressed that the above mentioned problems are “the result of unilateral actions, hence their solution demands unilateral steps as well.”

According to the Minister, Moldova will prepare for Pridnestrovie its own package of top-priority issues in the nearest time. Then, as the diplomat told, this will shed light on the Chisinau position and on further activities. Vladimir Yastrebchak sees activation of the work of joint working groups as the next step in the evolvement of a dialogue with Chisinau. This demands solution of personnel matters regarding their composition; afterwards, revival of their work is expected. Activity of joint working groups can remove a wide range of problems which at the present stage hinder the beginning of full-scale political consultations in the “5+2” format – considers the Minister.  Tiraspol's stance on this point is fixed in the Joint Statement of the Presidents of Russia, Moldova and Pridnestrovie in follow up of the meeting of March 18, 2009. In particular, it stipulates the necessity to provide corresponding conditions for resuming work in this format.  “Such conditions have not been created yet, problems remain and we are not going to pretend that nothing is under way,” told the Minister.

Political observer of the newspaper “Pridnestrovie” considers that Tiraspol should be tougher and put squarely the question of the PMR's sovereignty recognition as the only goal of the negotiation process with Moldova. “International recognition of the PMR's independence is a major goal and content of the PMR MFA's work,” said the Minister. “Toughness or prudence is a matter of tactics but not strategy. Harsh actions in the spirit of “putting the question squarely!” may bring our republic to isolation. This won't facilitate its recognition.” According to the diplomat, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PMR considers it to be more expedient to conduct an active dialogue along all aspects of Moldova-Pridnestrovie relations achieving, perhaps with small steps, but quite tangible results.

Answering the question of the current work of the Ministry in Russian direction, Vladimir Yastrebchak noted that in the line of foreign departments of both states close working contacts have been established. “Presently, PMR MFA is getting ready for the upcoming meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers in Athens. The Pridnestrovian issue is sure to be voiced at this summit and we hope that Pridnestrovian position will be voiced via our Russian colleagues as well,” the Minister told.  The journalists were also interested in the reasons of the visit of the Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council to Pridnestrovie. Vladimir Yastrebchak marked that this visit can be partially explained by the pre-election campaign in Ukraine. “Raisa Bogatiryova is a representative of the president's power vertical. The incumbent President Victor Yushchenko is determined to retain his post. In this case the President signifies his efforts over Pridnestrovian issue,” he told. The Minister noted that Ukraine gives positive signals, the sides succeed in solution of some issues of bilateral relations, in particular, there is progress in cooperation between the Ministries of Healthcare; there are prospects along other directions as well. The diplomat emphasized, if Ukraine proceeds from its own interests, then the situation similar to the events of March 2006 won't repeat. (It will be reminded that on March 3, 2006 upon the Ukrainian prime-minister's decree, a ban was introduced on admission of goods through Pridnestrovie-Ukraine border that have no tariff protection of Moldova.  Ukraine itself, having supported the blockade measures of Kishinev, had suffered significant economic losses.

As Vladimir Yastrebchak told, the question of the ban on travel by Pridnestrovian leaders to EU countries and the USA was also raised in Vienna, notably, not on Pridnestrovian initiative. The Minister marked that such restrictions cause harm first of all to the European Union, preventing the EU representatives from fulfilling their work in Pridnestrovie. Besides, prestige of the European Union is affected as well. “Everyone who gets acquainted with the problem of Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement can see that this ban is not motivated. It was introduced as early as the beginning of 2003 as pressure measure on Tiraspol which was in view of European officials a hindrance in the negotiation process. Since that time, a well-known Kozak Memorandum was disrupted due to the fault of Moldova, the European Union itself managed to join the negotiation process, other events also took place that proved that Tiraspol creates no hindrance in the negotiation process; nevertheless, every year this ban is  prolonged,” told the Minister. “Tiraspol proceeds from the fact that to ban or to allow this or that person to travel on its territory is a sovereign right of any European country. Pridnestrovie has no intention to bargain over this issue,” stated Vladimir Yastrebchak.

At the same time, according to the Minister, the question of transforming the present-day peace-keeping operation in Pridnestrovie was left out both in Vienna and Tiraspol. “The participants of the meetings, the Moldovan side as well, realizing that this can provoke unnecessary disputes, preferred not to raise this issue at this stage,” told the Minister.                   At journalists' request, the head of Pridnestrovian diplomacy estimated the work of the Greek Chairmanship of the OSCE. According to the Minister, the Greek Chairmanship had enough work to do as recognition of Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia took place last year. Nevertheless, Tiraspol gives a positive evaluation of its work in Pridnestrovian direction. “This year two events involving the sides, mediators and observers of the settlement process were organized under the auspices of the OSCE, as well as seminars of law enforcement structures of the sides; besides, meetings in the “5+2”  format (Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, the EU and the USA) on problems of Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement also took place. Hence, the work of the Greek Chairmanship of the OSCE in the field of Moldova-Pridnestrovie settlement was productive enough,” told Vladimir Yastrebchak.