Ignatiev: The Pridnestrovian Settlement Process Is about to Collapse


The Pridnestrovian settlement process is currently in a state of stagnation. What is the reason for this and how do the events in Ukraine affect the relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol?

Vitaly Ignatiev, the head of the Pridnestrovian Foreign Ministry, responded to Sputnik Moldova’s questions.

- How would you describe the situation in the settlement today?

- The situation continues to deteriorate, since the baggage of unfulfilled obligations under the Berlin Plus package has been added by further problems and blockades on the part of Chisinau. We are talking about restrictions on the import of medicines, food, fertilizers, equipment, raw materials, about the blockade of transport and the banking system of Pridnestrovie, about pressure on enterprises and businesses. A vivid example is the use by Moldova of purely artificial barriers that prevent the activity of the metallurgical plant in Ribnita.

Today’s challenging geopolitical and regional context associated with neighboring Ukraine literally comes on top of a near-collapse state of the Pridnestrovian settlement process, including the three-year period of inactivity of the 5+2 format.

The sides and international mediators will inevitably need to work on their mistakes. First of all, a change of approach is required from the Moldovan side. Not only time, but also a realistic view, professionalism and responsibility of the participants will be needed in order to rectify the critical situation, fulfill commitments and restore a healthy climate in the dialogue.

- What do you think is the logic of advancing toward a final political settlement? Especially in light of the crisis in Ukraine.

The settlement process between Moldova and Pridnestrovian is based on a specific mechanism of interaction that involves principles and procedures of dialogue, and an agenda that together form a coordinated negotiating space. This space is now filled with socio-economic and humanitarian issues that have a direct impact on the quality of life of the people.

The standard logic of moving from the simple to the complex is at the core of the process. Addressing existing problems that involve commitments fixed in the Berlin Plus package and revising current restrictions are indispensable steps without which it is impossible to move forward.

The ex-Moldovan officials in their statements make it seem as if it is possible to abandon the whole set of existing agreements and obligations and, as if by some magic, immediately take on the conceptual political issues while simulating the absence of a thirty-year knot of contradictions, which, by the way, is worsening from year to year, while pretending as if there were no opinion and interests of the Pridnestrovian people with their identity, no geopolitical realities and no explicit political decisions by Chisinau itself that hinder the achievement of mutual understanding.

All this is blatant deceit and delusion. You cannot for years refuse to implement agreements and block the resolution of practical issues for the benefit of people under the guise of some abstract goodwill. Any sustainable solution must be built on a solid foundation. Unfortunately, Moldovan representatives themselves are actively eroding this foundation by imitating negotiations, imposing restrictive measures, and severing traditional trade and economic ties, among other things.

- Some ex-Moldovan officials have been recently vocal about the need to urgently develop a political plan to resolve the conflict. How are these statements perceived by the Pridnestrovian side?

- Pridnestrovie is familiar with the declarations of former officials from Chisinau. This is often the case with Moldovan representatives – they are wise after the event. After stepping down from their offices, they often begin to shower with bold ideas and appeals. However, while in official positions, they, to put it mildly, are less confident and active. Many of the Moldovan representatives have for years evaded fulfilling their obligations and implementing the decisions reached in negotiations with Pridnestrovie.

I would remind you that since late 2019, when the Moldovan side ruined the “5+2” meeting in Bratislava, the negotiation process has been stagnant. The current commentators should be brought back to reality with a reminder that they personally had the needed authority and capacity to ensure the implementation of Chisinau’s obligations under the so-called Berlin Plus package, to prevent crisis tendencies, and thereby accelerate the transition to the discussions of more complex political issues.

It was that period when it was time to work, as they say, rolling up the sleeves trying to solve problems in the field of telecommunications, inter-bank cooperation, politically motivated criminal cases, free movement of vehicles, freight rail traffic, and to develop a guarantee mechanism for the fulfillment of the signed agreements. However, in recent years, the implementation of Moldova’s commitments has been deliberately sabotaged by literally every Moldovan negotiator, which was leading to a degradation of the dialogue, loss of time and slow progress in the settlement.

The Moldovan side multiplied by zero the little mutual trust that had been accumulated within the framework of a step-by-step solution of certain socio-humanitarian and economic issues over almost a decade.

Today’s crisis in the negotiations is largely the “merit” of a number of former Moldovan officials with short memory, who decided that they can somehow abstract away from their own failures and proven incompetence in the settlement process. Perhaps, their declarations are a way of rehabilitation and demonstration of their relevance. But this is more to do with psychology than with the political reality that exists in relations between Pridnestrovie and Moldova.

The Pridnestrovian side is open to constructive solutions. We do not renounce our part of obligations, giving chance to the dialogue and keeping its value. The question is whether Chisinau will have a mature and realistic, rather than a speculative, attitude to the interaction with Pridnestrovie.

Source: Sputnik Moldova