According to unofficial information, received from diplomatic sources, this week the Leader of Transnistria Igor Smirnov paid an unofficial visit to Kiev, where he had a meeting with the Head of foreign policy establishment of Ukraine Kostyantyn Hryshchenko. As far as we know, despite bright hopes of Transnistria government on the victory of Viktor Yanukovich during the Presidential elections, Ukraine wasn’t that enthusiastic to invite Igor Smirnov.
Moreover, President of Ukraine repeatedly stated that Kiev votes for rapid regulation of the frozen conflict only on the basis of territorial integrity of Moldova.
What has forced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to invite the Head of Transnistria for talks? The wish of Kiev to help more than a hundred of thousand of its compatriots, living in Transnistria? The accomplishment of the demand of President related to the necessity of rapid accomplishment of demarcation of Ukrainian boarder, including its Transnistria segment? Or banal worries to drop out of real negotiation mechanisms on Transnistria regulation? Or maybe, all together? Now we only can guess.
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One we can assume with high assurance: the visit of Transnistria Leader to Ukraine is not only a proof of acuteness of Transnistria issue for the current government of the country, but also the reminder that Kiev keeps holding in its hands minimum one of the keys of Transnistria regulation.
The situation in Moldova and Transnistria is commented on by Vice Prime Minister of Moldova Viktor Osipov and the Head of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Transnistria Vladimir Yastrebchak.
-- Mr. Osipov, on July 3rd the representatives of the elite in power of Moldova claimed that this autumn there will be a referendum in the country, during which all the citizens will decide whether to choose President of the country by a nation-wide vote or not. How will the new election track influence Transnistria regulation? Will Moldavian politicians care about it?
-- The claimed political calendar is aimed to overcome the constitutional crisis over the election of President of Moldova and stabilization of the institutions of power. Nation-wide election is the variant of a new mechanism, which should be stipulated in the article 78th of the Constitution following the suggestion of the Alliance in power for European integration with almost absolute support of the population. Electoral processes in the end of the year should guarantee a full term and mandate for future Parliament, President, Government, which will promote the efficiency of Transnistria regulation on the background of activation of internal participants and international partners – Russia, Ukraine, the European Union, OSCE, the USA, etc. Moreover by the beginning of 2011, and bank political situation will also stabilize after the local election processes within the left. These are the stages we forecast, and they are giving us the ability to focus on the preparation of further process, to resume negotiations in official format “5+2” and simultaneously to solve old problems within the context of measures on strengthening of trust between the two banks of Dniester. New Moldavian Government has already proved that they can separate political processes significantly from the processes of state control, and we will fulfill our obligations, despite elections.
-- In your opinion, what does the regulation of the conflict in Transnistria mean for Ukraine? Please, assess Ukrainian policy within the issue of regulation.
-- We already had an opportunity to make sure of some principles, which the new Government of Ukraine uses in its approach to the process of Transnistria regulation. Moldova even had to react officially a few times. We highly appreciate the progress within content and formulations, suggested within a Joint statement of Presidents of Ukraine and Russia on Transnistria regulation of May 17th , which was already depicted in Russian-German memorandum of June 5th. Although the development of new approaches within the foreign policy of Kiev, probably, is not yet finished, and within this context Kishinev has to hurry up to agree on lines, but not with evaluations. They can appear to be not precise, early, which won’t help to promote good neighborhood relations, which is the most important task for the both Parties. For example I can’t prove the fact, that during the last meeting in the format of “5+2” in Astana Ukrainian representative actively promoted his idea on boosting the regulation process, underlining the fundamental principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity. It became evident, that Kiev intends to play a more significant part within the processes on development of European security, protecting the postulates which correspond to international norms as well as national interests of Ukraine. At the same time, we still wait for the appointment of the permanent representative of Ukraine to the talks.
-- Mr. Yastrebchak, please comment on the recent events of internal political life of Moldova and their potential influence on the process of Transnistria regulation?
-- Negotiation process is led by equal Parties – Moldova and Transnistria. Their Leaders undertake legal and political obligations (within the kind of format basic agreements of 1994-2001, a joint statements of the authorities of Russia, Transnistria and Moldova of 2009). The election of a full-right President of the Republic of Moldova can help to find a model of regulation, considering the existing reality.
There is also a human factor. The Republic of Moldova exists within the terms of permanent elections, when authorities concern not about the development of strategic decisions, including the work over Transnistria, but about its current tasks. As a result, it is left to hope, that after the overcoming of power crisis, the situation can change positively.
-- To your mind, what does the regulation of the conflict in Transnistria mean for Ukraine?
-- This is a multi-level issue, having several dimensions. The first one is a humanitarian. There are about 100000 citizens of Ukraine living in Transnistria, many ethnic Ukrainians. The protection of their rights is a natural obligation of our country. Transnistria is also interested in the establishment of favorable conditions for the development of Ukrainian culture, maintenance of identity, however our own resources are not enough for this.
In Transnistria Ukrainians are not ethnic minority, but they are one of three main nationalities (together with Russians and Moldovans), living within its territory. This is a good ground for the promotion by Kiev its long-term interests, whenever the change of existing balance will lead to the loss of these positions.
The second dimension is an economic one. Transnistria and Ukraine have a mutually beneficial cooperation. For each other we have high transit significance: via Transnistria they transfer cargoes to Odessa ports, we receive from Ukraine vitally important goods, establishing a market of Ukrainian food, pharmaceutical and other products.
Ukraine doesn’t implement its total potential of its economic interaction with Transnistria. Thus, till this moment correspondent accounts of Transnistria banks in Ukraine are not opened (till 2001 these mechanisms operated).
The participation within blocking measures against Transnistria in 2006 didn’t give Kiev any dividends. Functioning EU Mission by that time the on the boarder draw a conclusion about normal regime within Transnistria part. As a result Ukraine only had losses due to the problems of cargo transit, meanwhile the promises of Kishinev remained to be pure declarations.
Economic context of regulations suggests pragmatic approaches of Kiev, based on the priority of exactly Ukrainian interests.
The third dimension is a political-regional one. Ukraine strives to take a corresponding place of a regional leader, and Kiev has the prerequisites for this. Ukrainian authorities intend to stand against the expansionist intentions of Romania, that uses its membership in European and Atlantic structures.
Ukraine is interested in a viable model of relations between Moldova and Transnistria and intends to find contact points with international partners (positive of Russian-Ukrainian statement of May 17th). However, the permanence of the number of formulations on the background of general global changes calls perplexity only.
In essence, on one balance pan there is a norm, fixed in a Final Act of CSCE, and uncovered blackmailing of one of the states that shuns of fulfillment of ratified international treaties. On the other there is a fundamental principle of the UNO Charter on the right of self-identification, human right protection, strengthening of regional security, new international legal realities and interests of Ukraine.
That is why, Transnistria regulation for Ukraine is a peculiar test. The test on an ability and readiness to act considering its own interests and priorities, grounding on the rights of its citizens.
However, this test is not only for Ukraine.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI After Zerkalo Nedeli