PMR Foreign Minister Answered Journalists’ Questions


First Pridnestrovian TV Channel, Alexander Lagutin: Moldovan authorities rejected the proposal of Pridnestrovian President Vadim Krasnoselsky to conclude an agreement with guarantees of peace and security for the region. Such a document was to be signed by all participants of the 5+2 negotiating format. How do you assess such a step of official Chisinau, and can we expect new provocations in Pridnestrovie as a result?

PMR Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatiev: Here’s what worries us, first of all, and what can be understood very clearly, based on the analysis of the last years of the negotiation process. We are witnessing a change in the focus of Western and Moldovan efforts in the negotiation process, including some international mediators, such as the OSCE. We have negotiations in a state of stagnation, and this is not the state they entered today. As a matter of fact, we have noticed that there are attempts, including in Chisinau, by some Western diplomats to speculate on the Ukrainian crisis, that the negotiations in Pridnestrovie are frozen because of this. This is absolutely untrue.

Our negotiation process consists of several mechanisms. The most important level of dialogue is the dialogue of the political leadership of the two sides. In previous years, under the previous Moldovan President, we had 7 official working meetings of the Presidents. The issues were not resolved because of Chisinau’s lack of political will. Now for two years, the President of Pridnestrovie has officially sent 7 letters, and the last initiative he made publicly, calling the Moldovan leadership, including the President of Moldova, to sit down at the negotiating table and solve problems, first of all, of social and humanitarian nature. The Moldovan side categorically refuses direct dialogue at the top level.

There is an auxiliary mechanism – the international 5+2 format. One is given an illusion as if this 5+2 format were a panacea; a mechanism allowing us to solve problems. Firstly, this is a consultative platform. Secondly, the format will not solve any problems for us; the parties must decide for themselves how we should proceed and build relations. Most importantly, the format has not been functioning for three years. The last meeting was held in October 2019, it was disrupted by the Moldovan side, and since then the format has been blocked.

But there is dialogue at the level of political representatives. At this level, our meetings do not lead to any results. Basically, today we have interaction and contacts with the Moldovan side, but it is impossible to call this a negotiation process, since the problems remain unresolved. Chisinau refuses to implement the agreements in the negotiation process. There is an active Berlin Plus package of agreements, which is also not fulfilled by the Moldovan side. There are expert (working) groups, the lowest level, when specialists offer solutions, but even here the Moldovan side says that they have no authority, they cannot decide without political will.

We can observe that someone is purposefully stalling the negotiation process.  The focus is shifting to non-negotiable methods. The political leadership of Moldova strengthens the anti-Russian rhetoric. In fact, Moldova does not recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian Federation and does not recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. It is impossible to ignore this in all respects. Moldova actively participates in various anti-Russian projects, such as the Crimea Platform.

Today we observe the intensified expansion of the Moldovan territory.  At some point, Moldova opted for this kind of systematic, gradual pushing down, blockading of Pridnestrovie. Because these blockade methods and measures that I am talking about did not come about yesterday. The blockade has been going on for decades, it’s been hitting our enterprises, we have an open economy, and that’s why we’re in a very difficult position.

Today there is an active militarization of Moldova. The Moldovan Parliament decided in June that any power structures from third countries are legally allowed to be on Moldovan territory, to conduct special operations, including the use of lethal and non-lethal weapons, to detain people, etc. The European frontier mission Frontex is already in operation, there are about 60 employees there now. Joint border patrols are carried out with Romania, whereas Moldova doesn’t have a signed border treaty with Romania, because Romania doesn’t consider Moldova to be a separate entity, because, probably, it considers Moldova as a satellite, or a Romanian province, maybe. The Moldovan leadership does everything to make Moldova into a second Romania. In fact, this year is declared the year of combatants in Moldova, those people who attacked Pridnestrovie in 1992 with weapons in their hands and killed our citizens. While in our country this year is the year of healthcare. Why do this, especially in such an electrified regional and global environment? Why emphasize it?

Surely someone has made the political decision to shift the focus to some military-power elements as a priority. And, to our regret, we are very concerned about the terrorist attacks and that, on the one hand, there is an imitation of dialogue, there are contacts, but the problems are not being resolved; on the other hand, Moldova is building up its military potential at a rapid pace, and today Moldova’s leadership says openly that the army of Moldova is not ready to face the challenges. But I am afraid to think or imagine what will happen if the Moldovan army gets new armament systems. What’s next, why are they doing this? This is where, in my opinion, the space and reasoning for the initiative put forward by our President arise. Now, when we look at these processes, we can all see very well that we want no escalation of tension, we want not to see the worst scenarios happen again. We’ve seen what can happen when there are hostilities or their relapses.

As for the refusal of the Moldovan side, as there was a comment from my counterpart, I think the Moldovan side was somehow hasty to comment, literally on the next day. We will still work in this direction, we will send a corresponding appeal to the other participants via political and diplomatic channels. Yesterday and the day before, the President discussed the parameters of this initiative with the other participants. Today I would not rush to say that Moldova rejected this initiative as it were. I feel that, of course, Chisinau does not like such initiatives, because they contradict the logic of action that they implement. On the contrary, the initiative calls for peace-loving steps, for guarantees of peace and security, and here our colleagues are heavily arming themselves. Most likely, their Western handlers, those states actively arming Moldova, do not like it either. Apparently, Moldova is in the sphere of influence of the West, primarily, of Romania, because it is a neighbor, there is the Romanian language in this state, but not the Moldovan one. Several generations of Moldovans have already been raised and educated as Romanians, as the history of Romania is studied in Moldova. A state that does not have its own history or its own language, that actually already has half of its population, including the entire leadership, citizens of Romania.

Apparently, it is Romania after all. Given the fact that citizens of Romania serve in the Moldovan army, the leadership of the army are also citizens of Romania, the question arises, is it the Moldovan army or the Romanian army? The question, to my mind, is non-trivial. So in this context, I would like to say that Pridnestrovian peace initiatives are precisely designed to strengthen the political and diplomatic methods amidst the processes that we are talking about today. I very much expect that these initiatives will not be rejected right away and will be further developed. We hope for support from the Russian Federation in this area.

Russian online edition of First National TV, Victoria Sotskova: Recently, the Parliaments of Romania and Moldova held a joint session. There was information that the Romanian Parliamentarians have begun the administrative and territorial reorganization of Moldova. Does this mean that there is a decision to merge Moldova with Romania, and what will Pridnestrovie do in this case, has there been a poll among the population on the future of the republic?

PMR Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatiev: As for the future of Pridnestrovie, there is the will of the people, we are building an independent state oriented to Russia.

As for the joint meeting of the Parliaments of Moldova and Romania, it must be a very striking political event that ended with the joint dance of the choir, where they joined hands and danced, it seems to be energizing in some way. As a matter of fact, it makes no difference which Parliamentarians they are – Moldovan or Romanian.

As for the whole expansion of Romania and the transformation of Moldova into Romania Number Two, I think that this process, firstly, has been going on for 30 years, and, secondly, it is now at the final stage, when what has already been done must be somehow documented or named.

Obtaining the status of candidate to the European Union is ironically referred to as the ‘eternal candidate’, but it seems to me that Moldovan and Romanian politicians are very pragmatic. First of all, this strategic relationship of Moldova with Romania on the military-political and any other level, the civil integration through education – every year, tens of thousands of graduates of Moldovan schools go to Romania for higher education, obtain the citizenship there, if not yet obtained at that time, and come back to Moldova. Therefore, the Romanian expansion is of a complex nature. And the process, based on what we are witnessing, is irreversible. According to the sociological surveys, the number of supporters of the unification of Moldova with Romania has increased in the past 12 years. That’s why the joint session of the Parliaments or some kind of administrative-territorial demarcations, building a common state, is a matter of Moldovan and Romanian politicians, it seems to me it is all going to happen. Moldova is more likely to become an associated part of Romania or part of Romania as a whole, rather than part of the European Union. It is hard to imagine that a country that is not a NATO member – and Romania a NATO member – would be part of the EU. Moldova is already integrated into NATO structures.

These processes are, in my opinion, absolutely irreversible, because generations of Moldovans who consider themselves Romanians have grown up, and their identity is absolutely Romanian. Pridnestrovie has the identity of a multinational Pridnestrovian people. We have people of 70 nationalities living here, there are 3 official languages in Pridnestrovie, as you know, Russian, Ukrainian and Moldavian. By the way, the Moldavian language in the world is preserved only in Pridnestrovie. In 2008, the Moldavian language was removed from the world classifier of languages and replaced by Romanian. Regrettably, but these are the signals that reflect the objective reality.

So let me repeat the question that Alexei Konstantinovich asked: can Moldova impose its Romanian identity, its will on the Pridnestrovian people? Certainly not. There are no such democratic standards or foundations. Moldova’s political-legal claims on Pridnestrovie do not exist either. Pridnestrovie has never been part of Moldova, that is, when they say reintegration, it absolutely does not correspond to reality, because in Soviet times Moldova was annexed to us, before which it had been called Bessarabia and had been under Romanian control from 1918 to 1940, and a year later the Romanian, already German fascist troops, returned to that territory as occupiers. This reality must be taken into account and political or political-diplomatic decisions must be made on the basis of this reality, and we call on the entire world community and the Russian Federation to do the same.

Pravozashita Portal, Vladislav Bulatov: As you know, Russia has actually withdrawn from the ECHR. Last week the HRC Chairman said that he thought it would be worthwhile to set up an international court. Are there any talks with Pridnestrovie, do you see the creation of such a court and your participation in it?

PMR Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatiev: My job as a Pridnestrovian, as a political representative in the negotiation process, as a foreign minister, is primarily to protect the rights and interests of residents of Pridnestrovie, including the 220,000 citizens of Russia. Therefore, everything we do in the negotiations is also to solve problems that interfere with people who violate human rights – it is freedom of movement, criminal prosecutions.

The main mission is to protect the rights and interests of Pridnestrovian citizens, especially when there are double or triple standards in the world, when the rights of citizens of one country are much more just than the rights and interests of another. My task is to make sure that these rights and interests are not violated through any practical and efficient mechanisms.

Naturally, globally we are ready to cooperate with any human rights structures that will be created, and maybe even Eurasian ones, etc. The main goal is the practical protection of people’s interests. And the human rights structures of Europe and the West have lost credibility in the eyes of Pridnestrovians. Let me note that Pridnestrovie was subjected to terrorist attacks at the outset. The families of those who died at the hands of terrorists applied to the European human rights structures; their applications were not even accepted, which means that no one is willing to take the Pridnestrovians, their rights and interests seriously. The West created the human rights structure as its own lobbying mechanism for implementing its geopolitical goals. We need to look for and develop mechanisms that will be more objective, balanced and efficient.

RIA Novosti, Artur Avakov: In an interview today, you said that Pridnestrovie’s priority is to join Russia.

PMR Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatiev: I said that we have a priority based on the 2006 referendum. The wording of the question in the referendum was: for the independent development of Pridnestrovie and the subsequent free accession to the Russian Federation. This is what our people decided on as early as September 17, 2006. Therefore, the subsequent free accession to Russia is a process that requires substantial decisions, political preparation and much more. The main priority is independence. You know that there should be a mutual interest, a concurrence of vectors, the Pridnestrovian people want it, but how it will be in reality and whether Russia, the Russian people, will want it, we will work in this direction and see.

You know, Pridnestrovie has been oriented towards Russia all these years. Pridnestrovie has its own uniqueness, we have a vector of adapting our legislation to Russian legal standards at the legislative level, and we’ve been working to modernize our laws. So we have already done a lot of work in this direction for many years. The Russian priority vector of Pridnestrovie remains unchanged, 20 years ago it was unchanged, and it remains so today.