Nina Shtanski gave an interview to Vesti Nedeli at Rossiya TV Channel


Deputy Chairperson of the Government of the PMR for International Cooperation, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR Nina Shtanski told about how Pridnestrovie survives in a complicated foreign policy situation and how it deals with socio-economic crisis in an interview with Alexander Balitsky, a correspondent of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.

Corr.: In fact, Pridnestrovie has been blocked for more than 10 years. But today the efforts to block the entire economy intensify - the country is living as a small enclave, the blockade is also on the part of Ukraine now. How do you manage to survive?

N. Shtanski: Yes, the blockade did not begin yesterday or last year, but many years ago. We felt its first strong impetus in 2003, when the coordinated actions of Ukraine and Moldova allowed to start reorientation of our enterprises towards the European market. In 2006, the grip is tightened even tougher. All our foreign economic activity, contrary to the existing international legal instruments, have been reoriented, and we were forced to forgo the markets of the CIS, Russia (these are our traditional markets) and go to the markets of the EU, which, offered us preferences “purely by chance”. Now the situation has just peaked. Actions of Moldova and Ukraine have become coordinated, more open, and more stringent.

You see what is happening with the national currency in Ukraine now; black Tuesday has been recently in Moldova. When two ships sink, the swirl invariably draws those who are in the middle. We have been squeezed. Today Moldova and Ukraine do everything not only to ensure that we are not able to send our products for export (this is the main source of our income, something that allows us if not to develop, but to survive: we produce high quality products, send it to foreign markets, and thus we collect means in our budget). Today, we are unable to ship products to the Russian Federation, although they wait for them there. The RF recognizes our certificates of conformity, expects to receive the products from us.

Corr.: For example, what?

N. Shtanski: For example, agricultural products - plums, apples – all this is produced ​​here in Pridnestrovie. We have excellent canning (peas, sweetcorn) - that can be bought not in Europe, but in Pridnestrovie. Russian consumer wants to eat it, but objectively we cannot give it to him as Moldova creates conditions where our products cannot cross the Ukrainian border without Moldovan documents. Our Moldovan colleagues openly say: agree with Russia to lift the embargo and we will issue you customs documents.

Corr.: What to do?

N. Shtanski: To negotiate.

For us the way to approach the Russian Federation’s market lays through Ukraine - there is simply no other way. Today these opportunities, unfortunately, have been blocked. We are in talks about it.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that since August last year Ukraine has started to block imports into our country. In order to produce the product expected in Russia we have to overcome the mass of handicaps to import raw material - production is not possible without it. The domestic consumer market suffers as well, also because we import a lot of food for the domestic market from outside.

Now grip has tightened so much that as a result we have lost a huge amount of funds from customs duties, tax revenue, and already this month, we unfortunately cannot pay the full pensions and salaries. We are compelled put 30% of these payments to the debt of state to each taxpayer, pensioner. Naturally, this creates a very negative public mood, we take a lot of efforts to explain to people what is happening, but it is very difficult to come to terms with it.

Corr.: That is, roughly speaking, the person who received 1,300 rubles, now receives 1,000, and 300 rubles are frozen in his account?

N. Shtanski: That's exactly right, simply because there is no money. When the state is export and import dependent the blocking of foreign economic activity completely paralyses the state capacity. And today, 30% are not received by people because there is no money in the treasury.

Corr.: But they cannot wait long. They can take to the streets?..

N. Shtanski: There is a great threat of social and economic collapse. I allow myself to assume safely that, in fact, this is a goal in itself of those who coordinate this policy in Moldova and Ukraine.

When the economic blockade began in 2003, the main goal of those who thought of all this was to restrict Pridnestrovie so much, make it so much poor and controlled so that the conflict be resolved as if “by itself”: to wait until the apple becomes ripe and falls into the hands by itself.

We faced such threat also in 1992, but you should not know Pridnestrovie well if you count on it. In Pridnestrovie, people can be consolidated. We overcame all kinds of difficulties many times. Each threat makes us even more united, stronger. In the end, the capital of our country was founded by the great commander Suvorov, who never lost a battle. In Russia there are many Suvorov schools, and we are Suvorov country.

Corr.: …but in Kiev they managed to change the government. Social explosion - and that’s it.

N. Shtanski: It would be bold, if I said that such ideas of external actors have no chance to be renewed. As a Foreign Minister, I cannot tell you it. I can only hope that our society will be wise as before. But I completely agree with you about the fact that idea is obvious. The task is to make us poor and agreeable, as it is called now.

Corr.: Let’s touch on your current relationship with Kishinev and Brussels. Are they, in Europe, ready to see Pridnestrovie as a full independent entity or do they consider Pridnestrovie as part of Moldavia?

N. Shtanski: I would like to orient more not to what they in Europe, USA, Ukraine and the Russian Federation are ready for, but I would like that the discourse be built around what Pridnestrovie is ready for. A settlement model cannot be imposed on people. You cannot be forced to be those who you are not. All this is artificial and will be a complete fiasco.

Pridnestrovie is an established state, repeatedly proven not only its ability to live, but also to survive in such circumstances in which many countries would simply disappear from the face of the earth. We have the right to live the way we want.

Geographically, we are on the boundary. Of course, we are interested in ensuring that our trade relations be developed in all directions - and with the European Union, and with the Eurasian Union.

Corr.: Is there a parallel between what is happening today in Donbass, in the east of Ukraine, and what happened in 1992?

N. Shtanski: I do not like such parallels. Any war is a terrible tragedy. When people die, suddenly it becomes unimportant what was in the beginning ... For them there is only “here and now”. In Pridnestrovie in 1992 a lot of blood was spilt: more than 800 people dead, 1.5 thousand wounded, many people did not live until today, but their children know exactly what they were born in the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. They do not know what the MSSR is, they have never lived in the Soviet Union, and in addition, the vast majority of them have never been in any other country. They got their passports here, served in the army here, went to school, were treated when they were bad, they were helped here. They create families and have children here. How to explain to these people what the parallel is? There are no parallels, there is a situation, there is a de facto state, and there are a concrete person and a people, and its interest. It is necessary to proceed from it - from the consideration of the interests of the people, wherever these people live.

Corr.: The information is circulating in the media that Russia is not ready now to provide financial assistance to Pridnestrovie. However, did you send a request, or am I wrong perhaps? Did you?

N. Shtanski: I am afraid you have wrong information. Russia has not declared that it is not ready to provide assistance to Pridnestrovie.

Russia assisted Pridnestrovie not only when we were in tough times, this is not the first time that the Russian Federation also faces with global challenges. Russia provides support to Pridnestrovie in a systematic way: there are plenty of social facilities, which are now being built exclusively by the Russian Federation, and it costs quite a lot of money. Russia also provides financial assistance in different areas, including to pensioners. I guess you are talking about the delay?

There are some political speculations that arose in the Russian information Internet sources that allegedly Russia has not sent timely financial assistance in Pridnestrovie, thus making it clear that it refuses to help Pridnestrovie and Pridnestrovian pensioners.

Corr.: I would like to understand whether it is perceived in Pridnestrovie as Russia’s reversal from it?

N. Shtanski: In no way. There are no any worries about it in Pridnestrovie. This was fake information on the part of those Internet sources that clearly do not support the current political situation in Russia. They reported about it and, of course, our Moldovan and Ukrainian colleagues picked up it. Everyone in Pridnestrovie understands in what situation Russia is, what happens, and of course, waits for this help.

The apparatus of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Pridnestrovie D.O. Rogozin immediately responded to those messages, and said that the assistance would be provided to Pridnestrovie, it would be received by all recipients, as it supposed to be. The assistance is delayed for technical reasons. As far as I am aware, it has already been sent from Russia and from day to day Pridnestrovian pensioners will receive the so-called “Putin's addition” to pensions.

Corr.: No matter what second passport the pensioner has?

N. Shtanski: Russia has never provided assistance in a differentiated way here. The Russian financial support comes to each Pridnestrovian, regardless of whether he/ she is a citizen of Russia, Ukraine or Moldova. This support is provided to Pridnestrovians.

It's no secret that before 2006 it was extremely difficult for Pridnestrovians to obtain Russian citizenship, people got a passport of the country which was available. The RM’s passport often was more accessible.

Today the Russian Federation has the greatest respect for its compatriots, and Pridnestrovians can obtain Russian citizenship on legitimate grounds. But assistance has always been provided regardless and without reference to the citizenship indicated in the passport.