Eugen Carpov: Tiraspol is not willing to discuss region’s future status


IPN interview

It is over
21 years of the end of the Nistru armed conflict, but the future status of the Transnistrian region is not yet clear, and Tiraspol is not willing to discuss this aspect. There were taken steps forward, like the establishment of a dialogue in the “5+2” format, but also steps backward, including the unilateral actions, the aggressive rhetoric and creation of artificial tensions. The Transnistrian conflict is not an ethnical one. There is no tension between the people living on the two banks of the Nistru River. The Transnistrian conflict is a political one. This means that the dispute is resolvable, while the solution is sustainable. Such assessments were made by Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Eugen Carpov in the context of the series of articles published by IPN on the occasion of Moldova’s Independence Day.

How did the settlement process develop in the 21 years?

The settlement of a conflict is a complex process that includes tense periods, intense negotiations and blockages in discussions, compromises and stiff positions. In this respect, the Transnistrian conflict does not differ. During the last 21 years, Moldova had to cover this sinusoidal path.

Even if there are different viewpoints about the settlement of the conflict, we should not forget that the goal of the talks in the 5+2 format is to find a viable solution to the conflict, based on the international principles and standards, which clearly stipulate that the solution should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova, by identifying a special legal status for the Transnistrian region. The form of the future status of the region will be the final product of the talks. Unfortunately, there is no openness now in Tiraspol to discuss this subject.

It should be clear that the conflict can be definitively solved if the participants in the talks show real interest and make everything possible to bring this process to a logical end that can be only the country’s reintegration and the creation of a viable and stable state. Any plan or any project that does not have such a goal only delays this process.

What steps forward and what steps backward were taken in the settlement process?

History will give a correct answer to this question. However, I would like to mention that the last few years saw significant developments. It is important that a number of initiatives were carried out in the period, including the restoration of the dialogue, which was the most important. Thus, after a hiatus of about six years, there were resumed the talks in the “5+2” format. The working groups stepped up their activity. There were signed very important documents that set the official agenda and the negotiation principles and procedures. There were restored the railway routes through the region. An enormous quantity of radioactive substances was evacuated from the left bank of the Nistru. For the second year in a row, there was organized an exchange of children at summer camps and implemented a number of projects aimed at building confidence between the two banks.

At the same time, the Government of Moldova for the third year in a row has supported the infrastructure projects in the Security Zone, which are aimed at improving the living conditions for those who suffered as a result of the conflict. Moreover, starting with this year, the allocations from the state budget have increased by 50%, totaling 15 million lei.

The international partners started to express increased interest in the process of reunifying the country. With their support, there are implemented a series of confidence-building projects. I speak about social and economic development and infrastructure projects that support the overcoming of stereotypes and favor the dialogue and information exchange between different groups on both banks of the Nistru, contributing to the development of an open civil society on the left bank, etc.

An example showing the increased interest in definitively settling the Transnistrian conflict is the Statement of the OSCE Council of Ministers of December 7, 2012, when there was reasserted the support of all the OSCE member states for a viable settlement of the conflict, based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova.

As regards the steps backward, I can mention the stagnation of the dialogue on the future status of the Transnistrian region within the Republic of Moldova. Currently, the discussions focus on the resolution of narrow problems, without a significant impact on the general process. This is the reason why we insist on the examination of complex subjects so that we can solve the other problems too. At the same time, we expect that the position and actions of all the foreign partners in the “5+2” format will coincide with their official statements on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova.

Do the constitutional authorities have a clear view on how the dispute should be resolved?

– The Transnistrian conflict can and should be resolved by exclusively peaceful steps, avoiding the unilateral actions, only by dialogue and negotiations. The main instrument in this respect is the “5+2” format.

On a short-term, we aim to promote the necessity of initiating talks on the institutional, political and security aspects of the Transnistrian settlement. In this respect, we count on the support of all the foreign partners that can give an impetus to this process. It is also necessary to continue the process of building confidence between the two banks and of improving the situation in the Security Zone. We will support the actions aimed at ensuring the respect for the human rights in the Transnistrian region and will make effort to eliminate the barriers to the free movement of persons and goods.

We will continue to insist on the withdrawal of the foreign military forces from the country’s territory, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Moldova, the commitments assumed by the Russian Federation and the international principles. The peacekeeping mission should be transformed into an internationally-mandated multinational civil mission.

We hope to strengthen the interest and support provided by the U.S. and the EU in promoting the confidence-building measures by increasing their role in the process of solving the Transnistrian conflict to mediators.

The restoration of the common areas is a priority as this will help solve the economic, social and infrastructure-related problems faced by the people affected by the non-resolution of the dispute.

We also aim to draw the people from the two banks closer and to intensify the interhuman contacts. Moldova’s population, regardless of the bank where they live, wants better living conditions, security and stability, and these desiderata can be achieved exclusively by dialogue and only in the people’s interests.

What are the main trump cards and the most serious dangers in the process of resolving the conflict?

There are no significant differences between the right bank and the left bank of the Nistru. We are connected by a common culture. Compared with other prolonged conflicts, which are considerably religious or ethnical in character, in Moldova there is no tension between the people living on the two banks. The Transnistrian conflict is not an interethnic one as some say. It is rather political and thus it is resolvable, while the solution is sustainable.

Another trump card of Chisinau is the openness to dialogue and the real wish to settle the Transnistrian conflict. The interest in resolving this dispute increased at foreign level too. The given subject is permanently in the agenda of the great European chancelleries and of the international organizations. This is confirmed by the aforementioned Statement of the OSCE Council of Ministers, which is the only one so important adopted in the last ten years.

Our foreign partners, especially the UN, the EU member states and the Council of Europe, become more involved in the settlement process through projects aimed at promoting the confidence-building measures.

As regards the dangers that threaten the settlement process, they remain the same – the unilateral actions, the aggressive rhetoric, the artificially created tensions and the interests from outside. They can be overcome by a constructive dialogue between all the participants in the talks in the “5+2” format and by respecting the standards, principles and the exiting international commitments. We must also ensure the functionality and efficiency of the mechanisms that ensure stability and security in the zone. I refer especially to the Joint Control Commission, the sector working groups and the format of direct dialogue at the level of leaders and political representatives of Chisinau and Tiraspol.

Does 2013 have something distinctive from the first independence years as regards the resolution of the conflict?

2013 is an important year for Moldova. We expect that the Association Agreement with the EU, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, will be initialed at the Vilnius EaP Summit on November 26. We also hope to receive the European Union’s consent to liberalizing the visa regime. We are performing the last preparations for this event that will represent a switchover to a qualitatively new stage in the relations with the EU. We hope that the Transnistrian officials will realize that all the residents of Moldova will benefit from these processes, regardless of the place where they are, in Tiraspol, Comrat, Orhei or Chisinau.

Mariana Galben, IPN