Nina Shtanski: “We Don’t Negotiate with Moldova on the Status of Transnistria or Any Other Political Constructions”

By Artiom Buzila

In Germany, in the city of Rottach-Egern, another round of multilateral talks was held with the participation of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova Vlad Filatov and the President of non-recognized Transnistria Moldovan Republic (TMR) Eugen Șevciuk, as well as European, American, Russian and Ukrainian intermediaries. The parties, involved into solution of a long-standing Transnistria conflict, including western ones, expressed satisfaction with establishment of the dialogue between official Kishinev and Tiraspol. “Politcom.Ru” talked to the TRM Foreign Affairs Minister Nina Shtanski on the prospects of Transnistria conflict regulation and on new foreign doctrine of Transnistrian government.

Relaxation of relations between Moldova and breakaway Transnistria region yet a few years ago, probably, was observed as science-fiction. Nevertheless, with coming of a new team headed by the President Eugen Șevciuk to power, the situation has significantly changed. Only for one and a half year of being the President Șevciuk has already three times met Moldovan government represented by the prime Minister Filat, by this, another fourth meeting shall be held already in July in Vienna.
- Dear Nina Victorovna, thank you for the time you give to answer the questions of “Politcom.Ru”. President Șevciuk, whose team you represent, has been at power in Transnistria already for almost half a year.  Many politicians, experts, reporters of Europe as well as from the CIS, consider that the newly elected head of Transnistria shall manage to move the Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict from a dead point. Which is the difference in this issue of Șevciuk and his team from the old power represented by Igor Smirnov?

- Let me thank your resource for the interest to the issue of regulation of Transnistria-Moldova relations. I’ve read your resource for a long time and I already answered some questions of “Politcom”. As for the views that we’ll manage to move the conflict from a dead-end, I would allow myself answer with the words of Eugen Șevciuk himself, sounded during one briefing: “I treat the progress noted in the process of regulation with restrained optimism”. Yet heading the Supreme Council of Transnistria Șevciuk constantly repeated, that there is no alternative to talks and all disagreements should find their solution only by negotiations. It is not surprising, that during his inauguration speech he noted the need to focus on development of good neighbor relations, and after a few months in his address to state bodies the President gave the corresponding orders in this direction.
> Map of Transnistria
Today talks process is in a quite active phase. With our negotiation partners we focused on solution of social-economic issues, solution of old problems. We hold dialogue at all levels simultaneously. It is the level of expert groups, where the specialists of various spheres together search for possible solutions and mutually acceptable mechanisms of accomplishment of earlier reached agreements. By the way there are a bit less than two hundred of them accumulated for the years of negotiating. At diplomatic level we’ve resumed official talks at the level of political representatives in the format “5+2”, during the two rounds held this year we’ve managed to agree on the principles and procedures of negotiating and agenda. We maintain and promote contacts at the top level.
-  Dmitry Rogozin was appointed a special representative of the Kremlin to Transnistria – the person having the reputation of a pretty hard and in many cases intransigent political and statesman. What does the TRM counts on from the kind of appointment?

- Dmitry Olegovich is a talented, experienced and, I won’t afraid to use the word, meticulous diplomat, professional. Already after his appointment, he actively joined the work within Transnistria direction, despite top position and wide range of other, not related to Transnistria regulation authorities and duties. The work he arranged already today gives Transnistrian people tangible results. Without doubts, his diplomatic experience within, to put it mildly, complicated directions shall contribute a lot also into the process of Transnistria regulation. Except for that, Dmitry Olegovich co-chairs at Russian-Moldovan Intergovernmental Commission. And I am sure that his active involvement into this work shall assist searching of constructive solutions, including also, those directly touching upon the interests of Russian people, living in Transnistria.
- Another question regarding Russia. It’s understood that Russia helps Transnistria economically and politically and this aid is priceless for Transnistrian people. On the other hand, officially Moscow still keeps to the line of territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. This was, by the way, confirmed by Putin in his decree “On measures to accomplish foreign political course of the Russian Federation” right after his taking the post...

- Help is really priceless. Starting from guarantee functions, performing which Russia in fact assures preservation of peace and stability along the banks of Dniester, and finishing with significant and very demanded in terms of the most complicated social-economic situation humanitarian, financial aid to Transnistria. Specified by you official line has been persistent during many years, and it was once again noted in the newly published decree. But today we don’t have talks with Moldova on the status of Transnistria or any other political constructions. The cornerstone is the solution of practical troubles at both banks, and here the role of Russia is pretty significant.
- Which role does Ukraine play today within Moldovan-Transnistrian regulation? Is it a supporter of your country? During the Presidency of Yushchenko the attitude towards official Tiraspol wasn’t really pleasant, now by Yanukovych, at least, represented by the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Grishchenko, it seems that the situation is changing. Could you please comment on this issue?

-  Yet in 1995, in July of 1995, during the negotiations the parties to conflict expressed their intention to support and strengthen the status of intermediaries. With the adopted Treaty on Peacekeeping and Security guarantees between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria the parties addressed to the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE with a favor to become the guarantors of the treaty. The Russian Federation and Ukraine expressed their readiness to perform within the regulation process the function of states-guarantors and the Presidents of these states sigтed a joined statement in Moscow on January 19th, 1996. The both states at the moment are the key actors of regulation, their role is the leading one which is conditioned with a number of geopolitical factors, as well as the circumstance that about 100 000 citizens of Ukrainians and about 170 000 of Russian people live in Transnistria, which comprises more than half of the republic’s population.

I would say that in general many pretty various factors influence the policy of Ukraine within Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict. They include existence of territorial disputes between Ukraine and Moldova, as well as partner relations with Moldova within the frameworks of international organizations and programs; a number of difficulties within Ukrainian-Romanian relations; actively developing Ukrainian-Russian dialogue; Ukrainian course at European integration and others.

Active participation of Ukraine within regulation of Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict, to my mind, is a good space for enhancement of international authority of Ukraine, especially considering the oncoming in 2013 chairmanship of Ukraine in the OSCE. The last one, I guess, can give Ukraine additional opportunities to make its contribution into the regulation.
- What is the target goal of Tiraspol during the oncoming international talks on Transnistria in July in Vienna?

- They want to find new decisions for old problems, first of all. Or, at least, to reach development of a common approach to the solution of a number of those. In course of the past round we managed finally to agree on the documents, defining the principles and procedures of talks, to agree on talks agenda. The approved document wasn’t signed. It’s what we have to do.  However, there are circumstances, which make us to treat this work more precisely. I mean those interpretations, which were made by officials of Moldova towards the agreed principle of equality during talks.

Let me explain. As the participants of the format “5+2” have different statuses – the EU and the USA possess the status of observers, then the named principle was agreed on with the corresponding exception together with the reference on specific documents, defining the given status. Thus, this document not only doesn’t change the status of observers and doesn’t extend their authorities, but also doesn’t allow to do this at all, within the frameworks of the mentioned negotiation process. Additionally, by the initiative of Transnistrian party we wrote in the document literary all the participants. “The participants of the “Permanent Council” are the parties – the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria, intermediaries – the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE, and also the observers – the European Union and the United States of America”, - which is specified in the document. This allows giving a direct answer on the question, who the parties in the negotiation process are. And these are exactly Moldova and Transnistria with no exceptions. Unfortunately, despite this, as it seems absolute clearness, Moldovan interpretations intensively spread by the Mass Media, confused seriously everybody along the both banks of Dniester. This obliges us to proceed working with the documents during the oncoming Vienna round. Now we have to discuss the situation, work out specifying wordings and to find the form to fix them. I really hope in addition for fruitful work within the frameworks of the so-called social-economic basket of negotiation agenda.
- Is the format 5+2 still efficient? Or it has exhausted itself?

- I have no doubts that none of the actors involved into the process of regulation doubts the efficiency of this format. I consider a great achievement of the intermediaries, and especially Russian diplomacy, that in the end of the last year ,after a long break official rounds in the format “5+2” were resumed. Today Political Council is the only efficient negotiation mechanism at the moment. Someone can object saying that even in the format “1+1” the parties manage to discuss the issues and even solve some of them. Indeed, but yet such format is not stable, it hasn’t yet revealed its efficacy. Contacts and their number not always synchronize with quality and results. Although, naturally, this is what we strive for. Important also is that “5+2” is a multilateral complex negotiation format, within the frameworks of which the EU and the USA can officially participate in discussion of the issues on the course of Moldovan-Transnistrian relations regulation. We shouldn’t however forget that this configuration has repeatedly attempted to be transformed, and since 2004 when Moldova for the first time suggested to exclude Transnistria from this format, the idea has been repeatedly presented to include into the format Romania and to enhance the role of the EU to the status of intermediary (equally to the OSCE).

At some moment the negotiation process practically fell to the level of quasi-talks with the use of imitation strategy. As more than 170 treaties concluded within the frames of talks process were not observed, but by this the parties still do not withdraw their signatures. This affects definitely the whole format, compromises it. Today the process has gained a new impulse. A new negotiations agenda is being developed, within the frameworks of which the first role is granted to the issues of practical interaction on social-economic sphere. Except for that, the parties have agreed on the principle that by working out new decisions earlier achieved agreements shall be considered, as well as they agreed on obligatory observance of the treaties. Important is that now by development of decisions and treaties the parties shall define the mechanisms to assure their accomplishment.
- You are already experienced official, moreover considering your young age. Would you like to make a party carrier simultaneously? Considering that the power in any country should ground on this or that organization-party structure. As earlier you held one of the leading roles in the organization “Revival”, which today has transformed into the Presidential political party.

- Today I have no plans to make a party career. Many of my colleagues, friends are the members of ‘Revival”. I share the approaches of the party towards reforms of economy and optimization of the system of state management. The Transnistrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively promotes its interaction with the institutions of civil society in various forms, and I’m sure that they with develop this dialogue also with parties.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from politcom.ru