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Most of Transnistrian region's trade with EU, especially with Romania

12:51 | 19.03.2022 Category: Interview, Event

Interview with MOLDPRES State Information Agency by Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Oleg Serebrian

MOLDPRES: Mr. Serebrian, we understand that the political settlement of the issue of the eastern districts of the Republic of Moldova is the responsibility of the central state institutions: Parliament, Presidency, Government. However, in your capacity as a high state dignitary, actively involved in the process of territorial reintegration of the Republic of Moldova, we would like to ask you if in the current regional context, extremely difficult and dangerous, there is still room for negotiation in traditional?

Oleg Serebrian: The war in Ukraine has put us in front of a completely new geopolitical situation. Of course, many things will change, some have already changed. Any crisis of this magnitude offers disadvantages, but also advantages, some of which may not yet be obvious. For the time being, it is clear that the negotiation process has been affected, that the work agenda for the current year is practically canceled. It is clear that we can no longer talk about a 5 + 2 meeting in the near future, as it is obvious that a Bavarian Conference on Transnistrian issues can no longer take place this summer. It is still premature to talk about the 5 + 2 negotiation format, more precisely about any changes that could take place in it, even if Tiraspol hurried to let us know, through a communiqué issued on March 4 this year (following the signing of the request for accession of the Republic of Moldova to the EU), that in the negotiation process a “point” was put.

MOLDPRES: Have the pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war left their mark on the free movement of citizens on both banks of the Dniester? Can we talk about a regression from the situation two years ago?

O.S .: We can't talk about regression, but neither about progress. It's a stagnation, actually. The issue of removing all barriers to the free movement of residents on both banks of the Dniester and the evacuation of the infrastructure of illegal checkpoints is constantly addressed in the negotiation process on the Transnistrian settlement. Unfortunately, Tiraspol is politicizing this issue, avoiding compliance with the commitments made in the negotiation process.

MOLDPRES: Is there a minimum of respect for the rights of Moldovan citizens in the area not controlled by our country's constitutional bodies? What is the fate of ECtHR decisions on the situation in this region?

O.S .: The situation of human rights, especially of Romanian speakers, of Moldovan citizens in general, is one that worries us, and not today. The most frequent violations of the rights of citizens of Transnistrian districts complained of in the ECtHR complaints, which result in appropriate court rulings, are related to the inhuman and degrading treatment of law enforcement, but also to the violation of their rights to liberty and security. The frequency of ECtHR decisions, which in one way or another target the districts on the left bank of the Dniester, has increased several times in the last three years compared to the previous period, which makes it necessary to pay more attention to human rights in the region.

MOLDPRES: Do we have positive results from taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the status of the Republic of Moldova as an EU country for economic agents in the eastern region?

O.S .: Of course. This can also be deduced from the fact that most of the Transnistrian region's foreign trade is with the EU. One of the key partners is Romania itself. I believe that this economic rapprochement of the region with the European space is good for all of us, including from a political point of view.

MOLDPRES: How are the opportunities offered by participatory democracy being used to engage civil society on the left bank of the Dniester in the political and social processes on both banks of the Dniester?

O.S .: Civil society in the territories controlled by Tiraspol remains in its infancy. We have reason to believe that, like the press, NGOs there have too many restrictions. Despite the multitude of international programs that have supported the associative sector there for years, things are not moving, no solid bridges have been built across the Dniester, neither in the media nor in the field of civil society.

MOLDPRES: How do Romanian-language schools work? Does the Office for Reintegration have statistics on the number of graduates of these schools enrolling in universities in the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the European Union?

O.S .: The study process is handicapped due to many problems, especially the lack of adequate premises. However, during the last 5 years, the number of students in the eight Romanian-language schools in the areas controlled by Tiraspol is constantly increasing, which is due to its attractiveness.

MOLDPRES: What is the level of co-operation in combating the pandemic? Is there any quick and accurate information on the evolution of Covid-19 and what is the vaccination rate in the eastern region?

O.S .: During 2021, a positive dynamic of cooperation between Chisinau and Tiraspol was maintained on issues related to the immunization of the population against COVID-19 and the implementation of the National Immunization Program. Residents of the administrative-territorial units on the left bank of the Dniester and Bender municipality receive continuously and according to the principle of proportionality lots of equipment and medical items received by the Republic of Moldova from external donors or procured from our budgetary resources (over 315 thousand doses of vaccine were already redistributed in the region and over 180 thousand doses were administered by the end of 2021). Similarly, medical staff in the region are trained by specialists on the right bank of the Dniester and WHO representatives. In February, more than 400,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were transmitted to the administrative-territorial units on the left bank of the Dniester and Bender municipality. Regarding the vaccination certificates against COVID-19, it should be noted that they are a unique model throughout the country, with data storage in a central database, managed by Chisinau, and at the request of residents in the region, the medical-sanitary subdivisions of the Republic of Moldova in the vicinity of the administrative line reconfirm the veracity of the corresponding certificates.

MOLDPRESE: Has any sociological research been undertaken to show a positive evolution in the mentality of citizens on the left bank of the Dniester? Is propaganda used massively in the region stronger than our positive efforts?

O.S .: Unfortunately, our sociological research companies do not have access to the localities controlled by Tiraspol. This explains the lack of credible polls. I recently discussed this with representatives of international foundations. Of course, we would all like to know more, including how the people of the region are looking at the issue of reunification, their attitude towards the war in Ukraine, or their views on our integration into Europe. We have no doubt that the propaganda machine has worked, especially since it has been operating for so long, but I am convinced that there are a lot of people, especially young people, regardless of their ethnicity, who share other values, who- and they want another future, aspiring to a normal life, in a normal world, a world in which hatred and tyranny no longer find a place.

MOLDPRES: Mr Serebrian, thank you for giving this interview to our Agency.

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