Vitaly Ignatiev: “Pridnestrovie is being forced to abandon the statehood”


Comments by the Head of the MFA of the PMR on the issue of joint customs control of Moldova and Ukraine on the Pridnestrovian border during a briefing for the media on November 18, 2015.

 “Pridnestrovie expresses serious concern in connection with the signing of agreement on the establishment of the joint border and customs control at the border crossing checkpoint “Kuchurgan”. It is important to understand that such unilateral decisions taken outside the framework of the negotiation process do not have the necessary legitimacy, moreover, they are restrictive and cannot contribute to the development of dialogue, a climate of trust.

 We made a special emphasis on that issue during the meeting with Mr. Bogojević. Earlier, Pridnestrovie sent an appeal stating our position in detail to the address of all 5+2 participants, on November 13 we sent additional letters with detailed proposals of the Pridnestrovian side. We call on all 5+2 participants, the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office to exert influence in order to cancel the implementation of the decision on the establishment of the joint Moldovan-Ukrainian customs and border post at the checkpoint “Kuchurgan”. I think you've been paying attention to the position of Mr. Bogojević, who noted that any unilateral actions, especially if they can lead to negative outcomes are not welcomed.

It should be noted that our Moldovan and Ukrainian partners are trying to present this decision as a “simplification” and “facilitation” of trade and economic activity of Pridnestrovie. This is certainly not so: we have not seen precedents in the international practice when triple customs and border controls, especially under  the unresolved conflict, despite the fact that one of the parties involved in this control, would contribute to the normalization of trade and economic relations.

According to our preliminary estimates, the possible consequences of this decision are very broad in nature and affect all spheres of life, including the issues of economy and the security sector. Destabilization of each of these areas will affect the regional situation in general.

First of all, you should take into account completely different tax, customs legislation, different systems of economy, etc. existing in Moldova and Pridnestrovie. It is difficult even to anticipate now what kind of requirements, administrative restrictions, tariff and non-tariff barriers will be applied against our economic agents and physical persons.

We also have objective reasons to fear this decision, understanding that criminal cases are initiated against our entrepreneurs, heads of a number of firms for political reasons in Moldova. It's about 50 people who are businessmen and pay taxes to Pridnestrovie’s budget. There is no reason to believe that the restrictive measures will not be taken against these people on the part of the Republic of Moldova.

In addition, it is difficult to understand how individual entrepreneurs will conduct their activities, as our regulations on the import of products, certain categories of goods are completely different. Procedures for declaration and customs clearance also differ.

In fact, the problem is complex and has several levels. In political terms, this step is implemented outside the framework of the negotiation process. The evaluation of the economic component of the problem, which is obviously very significant, will be given by our economists.

In our view, the opening of this Pandora's box is capable to seriously and for a long time destabilize the entire political dialogue and neutralize even those small positive decisions, which we have managed to achieve over the past few years.

It should be noted that throughout the negotiation process we have repeatedly faced with situations where unilateral decisions in various areas became a stumbling block in the result and created a threat to the dialogue. Sooner or later they were either canceled or a moratorium was introduced on their implementation. A recent example is that the moratorium on Moldova’s unilateral step concerning the restriction of freedom of movement of Pridnestrovian vehicles across the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. We believe that at this stage there is still time that Moldova and Ukraine to cancel their decision. One way or another, the necessary steps will eventually have to be taken in order not to aggravate the situation. I think no one is interested in an escalation of tensions, so we hope for thoughtful, rational and pragmatic position of guarantors, mediators and observers on this sensitive issue. We are ready for dialogue at any level: expert groups, political representatives – in order to ensure that the cancellation of this decision to be the end result.

When first signals began to arrive from operational sources about the decision planned to be taken by Moldova and Ukraine, the Pridnestrovian side officially stated, including at the level of the political representatives, about the inadmissibility and unacceptability of that step for Pridnestrovie. All participants in the negotiations know about the position of Pridnestrovie on this sensitive acute issue, everybody knows that it can lead to extremely negative consequences and is not consistent with the purposes and objectives of the negotiation process.

I would like in this context to draw attention to the statement made by Head of the Moldovan Border Police Department Dorin Purice, who said that the implementation of joint customs control will be the embodiment of some Moldovan “dream”, the hopes that the RM has cherished since 1997. Therefore, we have no illusions about the beneficiaries of this decision, about who is really interested in the implementation of total control.

Methods of economic, informational and political, coercive pressure are used against Pridnestrovie throughout with only one purpose - to force Pridnestrovie to the abandonment of its own statehood, to create unbearable living conditions for people, to destabilize the regional situation, stir up uncertainty in the choice among residents of Pridnestrovie.

Joint customs control - one of the elements of this strategy. The purpose of these actions is obvious – through economic measures to reduce the viability of our republic and to force Pridnestrovie to abandon statehood”.