Acting Foreign Minister of Pridnestrovie: Kishinev prefers conducting the dialogue in the language of threats and blackmail


“Of particular concern is the decision of Moldova and Ukraine to organize joint customs and border control on the border of Pridnestrovie,” said Vitaly Ignatiev.

 The visit to Tiraspol and Kishinev to be made in April by representatives of the mediators and observers in the Pridnestrovian settlement negotiation process can boost the dialogue between parties to the conflict and overcome the protracted pause in the negotiations in the 5+2 format. This was stated by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pridnestrovie Vitaly Ignatiev in an interview to the TASS.

- How is the situation in Pridnestrovie today?

- It must be recognized that to date Pridnestrovie is in a very difficult situation and is forced to live in an ever-increasing full-scale pressure from neighbouring countries, first of all, from the Republic of Moldova (RM).

Unfortunately, official Kishinev adheres to discriminatory paradigm in relations with Pridnestrovie, preferring to conduct the dialogue in the language of threats, blackmail, blocking economic potential of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR). The situation is aggravated by permanent internal political muddle in the neighbouring country, which creates favourable conditions for introduction of new measures of pressure on Pridnestrovie and subsequent avoidance of responsibility for the deterioration of the socio-economic situation.

Over the past six months alone unilateral steps of the RM have led to the restriction of the import into Pridnestrovie by railway, extremely complicated the situation in freedom of movement of Pridnestrovians, which have Russian citizenship – they are intimidated at the Kishinev airport, are required to obtain Moldovan documents, there are cases of deportation and denial of access aboard the aircraft.

Of particular concern is the decision of Moldova and Ukraine to organize the joint customs and border control on the border of Pridnestrovie. This step, taken outside the current negotiation instruments, risks destabilizing considerably the situation throughout the region.

In these circumstances the Pridnestrovian side continues to advocate for the resolution of all existing contradictions using political and diplomatic methods within the framework of concerted international negotiation mechanisms.

- Have you managed to intensify the dialogue with Moldova in the framework of the negotiation process?

- The last meeting in the extended format (5+2), i.e. with the participation of both parties to the Priidnestrovian conflict, mediators from Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, as well as observers from the US and EU took place in early June, 2014.

Since then, the dialogue between Tiraspol and Kishinev has been maintained only at the working level, mainly in the framework of expert groups established to discuss and find solutions to the specific social and economic problems in the conflict zone.

The Moldovan side has reduced these contacts to a minimum. So, this year the RM has agreed to hold working meetings of only two of the eleven groups of field experts. At the same time, Pridnestrovie has developed a whole range of comprehensive draft documents for recent months designed to resolve complex problems, in particular in the field of rail and road transport, mutual recognition of documents. In total, since 2012, the Pridnestrovian side has placed more than 50 initiatives on the negotiation table aimed at resolving long-standing contradictions in the socio-economic dimension.

Unfortunately, today the Republic of Moldova continues the tactics aimed at avoiding the dialogue with Pridnestrovie, in spite of the vociferous public statements about the need to intensify work on available negotiating platforms. In fact, we witness a sheer sabotage of constructive interaction with the Pridnestrovian side done by RM representatives. Pridnestrovie’s initiatives, supported by all the 5+2 participants and officially sent to RM representatives, remain unanswered under various pretexts for many months.

It should be understood that this tactic is largely undermines the international community's efforts in the process of the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict settlement. In particular, the visit of representatives of the mediators and observers to Pridnestrovie and Moldova has been planned to take place in April, for which time the parties have to develop specific draft decisions on a variety of issues. The Moldovan side’s position, in fact, calls into question the achievement of this goal.

- What are the prospects for the resumption of full-scale negotiations?

- Unfortunately, the main obstacle has not been removed on this way, which arose in connection with initiation by Moldovan authorities of about 200 criminal cases against Pridnestrovian officials, politicians and businessmen.

The lack of concrete actions of Kishinev aimed at early resolution of this long-standing, but very sensitive issue, maintains the wall artificially constructed by the Moldovan side in the negotiation space. This obviously destructive approach flouts the principles and procedures of the international negotiation process, destroys the content itself of a just settlement process, making the political dialogue impossible. It is obviously, when one of the parties to the negotiations is “in handcuffs” – these are not negotiations, but at best, the enhanced interrogation.

- You have mentioned the joint customs and border control of Moldavia and Ukraine - what is the crux of the problem?

- On November 4, 2015 Kiev and Kishinev agreed almost secretly to organize the joint customs and border control on the Pridnestrovian-Ukrainian border at the checkpoint “Kuchurgan”.

Implementation of these decisions taken outside the negotiation process and excluding Pridnestrovie’s position will inevitably lead to the tightening of procedures for movement of people, the implementation of import operations through this checkpoint.

These actions are undertaken with the sole aim - to establish full control over the foreign economic activity of Pridnestrovie by creating around the perimeter of Pridnestrovie a legal shell of the RM, which will enable Moldova to use legally all the restrictive mechanisms against the republic.

Implementation of these plans of Kishinev and Kiev will inevitably lead to huge losses of the Pridnestrovian economy, will make it impossible to import an entire category of products, including by individuals, and will result in triple customs clearance of Pridnestrovian imports. It should also be noted that this measure will allow Moldova to use levers of pressure on the enterprises of the republic, against the leadership of which politically motivated criminal cases were initiated in the RM.

Extension of the legal framework of Moldova to this section of the Pridnestrovian border will make it impossible to import, in particular, socially relevant categories of goods, which, in fact, may actually lead to a food blockade of the PMR.

It should be emphasized that the appearance of the Moldovan security forces on the border of Pridestrovie and Ukraine, that is, outside the Security zone in which the interaction between paramilitary structures of the parties is strictly regulated by existing agreements will lead to unbalance of the whole system of stability and increase in risk of military confrontation.

The Pridnestrovian side proposes to immediately begin consultations at all available levels of the negotiation process with a view to finding mutually acceptable solutions to this problem.

- What, in your opinion, is a way out of the situation facing by Pridnestrovie today?

- The pressure exerted on Pridnestrovie today, is aimed at artificial restriction of the economic potential of the country, undermining the Pridnestrovian statehood, the psychological impact on the people who associate themselves only with Russia and the Russian world. The ultimate aim of such steps is tough force inclusion of Pridnestrovie into Moldova, elimination of Russian interests from regional space, expansion of the West in the space of Eastern Europe, along with the maximum possible displacement of the Russian informational, military and economic presence. In fact, today a hybrid war is conducted against Russian Pridnestrovie, which is part of the global war against Russia.

In such crisis conditions Pridnestrovie hopes to strengthen contacts and synchronize actions with a strategic partner - the Russian Federation. We believe that it is very necessary and timely to initiate a large-scale public and political discussion in the RF on the development together with Pridnestrovie a multi-level comprehensive strategy to support the republic.

Today, it is essential to organize the systemic work at the level of state institutions of the PMR and the Russian Federation on risk and threats prevention facing by the republic, primarily in the field of economy and security. In particular, in our opinion, it is necessary to focus on preventing the decrease in efficiency and functionality of the current peacekeeping operation under Russian auspices, intensify public information support for the efforts of Russian peacekeepers forced to carry out tasks in the conditions of hostile actions of Kishinev and Kiev, aimed at restricting the supply and staffing the peacekeeping operation.

Particular attention should be paid to the wide mainstreaming of the Pridnrstrovian issue in Russian media, the protection of rights and interests of about 200 thousand Russian citizens living in the republic.

- What steps on the part of Russia to support Pridnestrovie seem the most relevant?

- In principle, the most urgent task for the country is reorientation of foreign trade towards the market of the Eurasian Economic Union and, above all, the Russian Federation. In fact, we are talking about the return of Pridnestrovie to the traditional Russian market, for which more than 50% of total exports accounted before the economic blockade of 2006.

Now this figure is less than 8% due to artificial limitations on the part of neighbouring states. Restoring our positions in the Russian market will allow to significantly reduce the negative impact of external factors, will be an additional catalyst for strengthening the Pridnestrovian-Russian relations in the trade and economic sphere.

Above all, it is indispensable for the export-oriented economy of Pridnestrovie to create favourable conditions for ensuring access of products of enterprises of the republic to the Russian Federation. It is, in particular, about the formation of a loyal customs regime, a clear separation of Pridnestrovian goods from those manufactured in the Republic of Moldova.

Establishing systemic cooperation between the business communities of the two states could be a powerful impetus to the development of mutual trade. In this context, the Pridnestrovian side has initiated a Russian-Pridnestrovian business dialogue “Pridnestrovie – Russia. Cooperation Bridges of 2016” in the framework of IV Pridnestrovian Investment and Economic Forum, which will be held on 19-20 May 2016 in Tiraspol. This event would help promote among prospective Russian investors and partners greater awareness of the economic potential of Pridnestrovie, would play a beneficial role in the process of establishing direct deliveries of production from Pridnestrovie to the Russian Federation, the conclusion of new trade agreements.

We believe that if there is systemic collaborative work, the advantageous geographical location, developed infrastructure capacity of Pridnestrovie will serve to attract Russian investment, to strengthen economic, trade and financial ties.

One more thing. We are extremely interested in the speedy opening in Tiraspol of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture or any representation office of “Rossotrudnichestvo” to establish closer humanitarian ties between Russia and Pridnestrovie.

According to the decree of President of the Russian Federation the centre was supposed to be opened before the end of last year. Unfortunately, so far this has not happened. We have a powerful potential of pro-Russian non-governmental organizations, social, sports and military-patriotic associations - all this requires to be sated with practical results. Therefore, we would like to establish more intensive joint systemic work in this social and humanitarian sphere.

Interview by Yuri Kozlov

Source: TASS