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Transnistrian myths

Transnistrian leadership

01.09.2013 22:34

Transnistrian myths
Context:

The recent intensified attempts by certain experts to harm the image of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic by discrediting the Transnistrian leadership and its foreign policy justify the need for voicing of an alternative peer review of what is happening.

Attempts to spread the troubling concerns about "the surrender of TMR", "a strategy of Chisinau's unilateral concessions" on the part of Tiraspol, the presence of behind-the-scenes negotiations allegedly aimed at the loss of independence by Transnistria, and so on and so forth, set themselves the task to form a distorted one-sided public opinion on Transdniestria' foreign policy initiatives, to divide and destabilize the Transnistrian society. The negative and untrue information is immediately picked up by commentators, bloggers, forum frequenters and spreads like virus information making for the destabilization of the information field both in TMR and beyond.

Taking into consideration the progress in solving the long-standing conflict between the TMR and the RM, it stands to mention that such 'expert' articles do not contribute to a constructive dialogue between the two banks of the Dniester, on the contrary, they provoke an escalation of the 'cold war' making impossible the parties closer relations, and consequently the complete final settlement of the conflict.

Under the circumstances, it seems advisable to disclaim political myths that are purposefully created and maintained by certain preconceived observers.

MYTH No. 1. Transnistria abandoned the principles of its own independence and sovereignty.

It is no secret that the foundation of the foreign policy of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic is the Constitution of the nation, which states that Transnistria is an independent, sovereign state seeking the recognition. TMR Constitution states that the generally recognized norms and principles of law are a priority for the Transnistrian people and that Transnistria carries out its interaction with other countries on the basis of international law and international agreements.

Thus, declaring its independence in 1990, Transnistria confirmed its commitment to the basic principles of international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, the Universal Declaration of Human rights and other fundamental documents of international law. Sources of legitimacy of the Transnistrian state are conditioned not only by the compliance with international standards, but also by truly democratic, referendum principles of its creation. Including the results of the national referendum on 17 September 2006. Then, 97% of voters expressed themselves in favour of the TMR development as an independent state with the subsequent free accession to the Russian Federation. This referendum, in particular, determines the current Transnistria's foreign policy too. This year, both the head of state and the head of the Transnistrian diplomacy have repeatedly emphasized the importance of execution by the authority of the will of the people.

Thus, on February 29, 2012, at the beginning of his president's term, in an interview with the Adevarul Romanian edition, President of Transnistria Yevgeny Shevchuk said that in its course the current government of Transnistria will rely on the opinion of the people of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. "Both in public decision-making, and in building up a foreign vector of development, we will be guided by this opinion. And today it remains invariable and lies in continuing the course for the independence and recognition," said the head of Transnistria.

According to the President of TMR, the decision on the establishment of the Transnistrian state, separated from the Republic of Moldova, appeared only on the initiative of citizens who defended their right to freed and independent development. "This is the people's decision, and I, as president of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, will implement it. And solution to a question of changing the status of Transdniestria is solely within the competence of its own citizens," said then the head of state. Foreign Minister of the Republic Nina Shtansky in an interview, also noted that "the main goal of our foreign policy is to achieve the recognition of Transnistria independence." In this regard, Transnistria is developing extensive contacts, including talks with Moldova, trying to stabilize the format of bilateral relations.

MYTH No. 2. In the near future, Transnistria will be offered to discuss the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers and the status of Transdniestria as a region of Moldova.

The leadership of the republic and the Foreign Ministry and the TMR adhere to the inadmissibility of change of the peacekeeping format in Transnistria. In particular, the head of state Yevgeny Shevchuk at an extended briefing on 26 July 2012 at the Presidential Administration, declared expressly: "We, the Transnistrian side, are unalterably opposed to changing the format of the peacekeeping operation and the withdrawal of the Russian troops that provide peacekeeping operation on the banks of the Dniester."

The mere "fact of the Russian peacekeepers presence prevents war," said President Y.Shevchuk in an interview with ITAR TASS. "Our people believe them, hope for their help and support. The Russian military's high professionalism, their matured experience in assessing and managing the situation in the area of responsibility in cooperation with the Moldovan and Transnistrian colleagues, local authorities, mediators, and observers provides a reliable safety factor," said the head of state.

Foreign Minister of the TMR Nina Shtansky called unacceptable the statements by those politicians of Moldova, who require replacement of the peacekeeping mission. The foreign minister voiced the Transnistrians' consolidated opinion that the current format of the peacekeeping operation, is "the only guarantee of stability and security in the region". Moreover, according to the Transnistrian Foreign Minister, the peacekeeping mission issues are not part of the mandate of the Permanent Conference and can only be discussed by participants of the peacekeeping operation - Russia, Moldova, Transnistria and Ukraine in the framework of the Joint Control Commission."

The Presidential Decree No. 468, dated 26 July 2012, speaks for the attitude of the Transnistrian leadership and the Transnistrian people in whole to the role of the Russian soldier in Transnistria's fate. "In view of the outstanding historical importance of the Peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation on the territory of Transnistria, in accordance with the Agreement of 21 July 1992, which preserved the lives of thousands of Transnistrians", the President has decided to establish in the TMR the Peacekeepers' Day on July 28.

At the recent international scientific and expert forum "The peacekeeping operation on the Dniester in the context of geo-political challenges of our time", a number of Russian and Ukrainian politicians have once again confirmed the importance of the presence of Russian soldiers in the Dniester. Deputy Prime Minister, Special Representative of the President of Russia on Transnistria, Dmitry Rogozin assured those present in a video message that neither Russia nor the Russian people will run to reformatting the peacekeeping operation: "We will not go there; the nations living on the banks of the Dniester will not go there either. And until the political environment is established securing a stable, perhaps eternal peace in this beautiful region of Europe, the Russian peacekeepers are to be there and carry out their duty, regardless of hysterics of certain politicians."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, State Secretary Grigory Karasin, who also took part in an international forum, said that the status of Transnistria should take into account Transnistrians' interests. Grigory Karasin expressed confidence in the viability of the peacekeeping mandate, the component parts of which were and still remain "prevention of hostilities, maintaining stability and ensuring the conditions for political negotiations." Indeed, some European, Moldovan and Ukrainian politicians express ideas of changing the format of the peacekeeping operation in the Dniester. However, firstly, they are illegitimate because they do not take into account the views of the people living on the banks of the Dniester, and secondly, taking into account the appreciation of the format by the Russian officials, you can be sure that Russia, as a guarantor of security and peace in the Dniester, will never allow such ideas to take shape until a political settlement of the conflict is reached.

MYTH No. 3. Withdrawal of the bill "On the basic principles of negotiations with Moldova" dismantles the negotiations framework favorable for Transnistria.

The long and careful work on regulatory enactments of strategic importance is a necessary element of legal work in any state. According to the logic of this myth, the whole experience of Transnistria's foreign policy before the project On the basic principles of negotiations with Moldova appeared, should be regarded as dismantling the framework of negotiations beneficial to Transnistria, which, of course, does not reflect reality.

It will be observed that this bill was drafted by the former leadership of Transnistria under somewhat different conditions of interaction with the RM, more precisely, in the absence of political interaction with the neighboring state. Commenting on the rush around the removal of the above bill from consideration by Supreme Council by the President of the TMR, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PMR said that "the independence of Transnistria is an axiom for all citizens of the republic, and speculation about it is unacceptable." According to Nina Shtansky, parliamentarians and a number of experts deliberately mislead the citizens of the republic, which can not but affect the harmony in the Transnistrian society. The official position of the TMR Foreign Ministry comes to ascertaining the loss of the relevance by the bill "On the purposes and principles of the negotiations with the Republic of Moldova". Today, the bill can be interpreted negatively as unilateral actions of Tiraspol in the negotiation process, namely as setting pre-conditions, which means the road to nowhere.

Nina Shtansky finds incorrect the contrasting of the bill "On the purposes and principles of the negotiations with the Republic of Moldova" and Moldova's law of 2005, which was passed by Moldova unilaterally. This law "contradicts the approach applied in the negotiations" and therefore there is no need to apply it in the TMR. Moreover, until the Republic of Moldova reconsiders its approach to the law, Transnistria will not advance the discussion of some political issues," said Minister of Foreign Affairs of the TMR.

MYTH No. 4. President's International Affairs Advisory Board was dissolved by presidential decree of July 11, 2012, because "part of the Board members began to actively speak in the media."

In truth, neither President Shevchuk, nor his press service gave any official comments on the dissolution of the President's International Affairs Advisory Board .

However, it should be noted that the practice of subordinate legislation of the head of state provides for both the issuance of acts (right of the President to issue decrees and orders is provided for in Article 65 of the TMR Constitution) and their amendment, including their complete abolition, if necessary. It may be supposed that the President of TMR, canceling the decree of the International Affairs Advisory Board, considered this format of a special advisory body under the President needless. Thus, for example, the main task for the development and implementation of the concept of foreign policy was undertaken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under which the Social-expert council is operating even today. Is there a need to duplicate the work of experts on several levels, and when both the experts and business representatives, and members of the Supreme Council are already involved in the work?

The format of the Advisory Board work presupposed the preparation of non-regulatory documents by experts. What prevents today the experts from submitting their analytical proposals to the President of TMR or the Foreign Minister of the TMR? Lack of will? Lack of proposals as such? It may be the fact is that the persons claiming to be 'the Transnistrian statehood protectors' are willing to work only under the loud slogans 'for the benefit of the Republic, expecting to receive from such cooperation political or material dividend? In this case, there is really no need to pander to their vanity within any prostate or pre-state structures.

MYTH No. 5. After the Vienna round of talks, Chisinau and its allies have received the official right to put dangerous for TMR questions, and the observers in the name of the U.S. and the EU can now submit their regulation proposals.

Most TMR citizens' memories of the events of twenty years' prescription are still alive. Some two decades ago, the official Chisinau was unable to negotiate with Transnistria, and instead of traditional means of diplomacy it chose power methods to resolve the existing contradictions. After the end of the war, the RM continued its confrontational way of interactions with the TMR, choosing the tactics of sanctions and blockades, unleashing an information war against Transnistria to discredit it as an independent state.

It appears that a weighed, peaceful nature of foreign policy, the desire and the ability to negotiate is the basis of diplomatic activity, an indicator of political maturity of a member of administrative staff. All this implies the ability, in whatsoever difficult circumstances, with mutual hostility, contradictions to sit down to talk and on the basis of pragmatic state-based approach to be able to agree on the solution of urgent problems of citizens. Today, none of the participants in the talks has doubt that only the parties to the conflict have a full set of rights to final resolution of the conflict that has been smouldering for decades, on the basis of equal dialogue.

As for the situation of observers, their status in terms of their powers undoubtedly differs from that of the other participants, but hereby it is in no way altered as compared with the one that existed in 2005. Thus, today, as in 2005, observers have the right to initiate the convening of negotiating process meeting, as well as comment on the decisions taken, but in this case they can not sign documents, and all the more to participate in the decision-making process of the negotiation.

This conventional rule was again formalized in the fourth round of negotiations, "the Permanent Conference on Political Issues in the Framework of the Negotiation Process for the Transdniestrian Settlement" in the format 5+2, held on July 12-13 in Vienna, and is not subject to further discussion.

It is noteworthy that the document, according to the Foreign Minister of the Republic Nina Shtansky, "not only does not change the status of observers or extend their powers, but does not allow doing it in principle." Thus, the document adopted following the Vienna round of talks, confirmed the status of each party to the negotiations formalized during the meeting in Odessa of mediators from Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE representatives of the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria in September 2005.

In fact, the greatest discrepancy may be caused (and likely to be) by problems of the so-called 'third basket' consisting of 'a comprehensive settlement' of the Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict, but the content of the third basket is not filled today. It is the Transnistrian side that insisted and will continue to insist on the priority of 'socio-economic basket', the contents of which has been agreed and the work on which is already in progress, including at the level of expert groups. Moreover, the negotiating parties have the right to put any questions inside each basket and, accordingly, these issues are considered in no particular order. However, this order does not apply to that of baskets consideration. Thus, until the questions from the first and second baskets are fully solved, the parties will not proceed to the third one. Foreign Minister of the TMR Nina Shtansky has repeatedly said this.

MYTH No. 6. Defending the TMR's interests, Russia will get into trouble because such assistance may not be necessary for Transnistria.

Given the historical heritage, geopolitical significance, a clear Eurasian orientation of TMR's foreign policy interests, it is safe to say that Transnistria is of great importance for the Russian Federation, falls in the area of interest. Russia's help to Russian compatriots residing in Transnistria testifies that Russia will never leave Transnistria. Peacekeeping, humanitarian, economic format of interactions between the PMR and RF, as well as their dynamics show Russia's increasing role in Transdniestria's fate, regardless of whether these processes are supported by the West or not.

At a time when the former Soviet Union states are increasingly distancing from Russia as "the former mother country", demonstrate their cultural and ideological isolation, often compulsively demonstrating their European orientation, Transnistria is committed to the integration in the Eurasian structures with the participation of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, increasing economic, customs, legal cooperation, expressing support for the policy pursued by the Russian Federation.

Being a strong player, the resurgent and gaining international prestige, modern Russia is capable in the case of obvious danger to put any international actor in a difficult position. It has enough tools therefore.

Is it any use having doubt that Transnistria will ever repulse help of the only reliable guarantor of peace and stability, the only financial donor and strategic partner, who is also a strong actor in international politics?

It seems that Russian and Transnistrian diplomats are well aware of common interests of the citizens of their countries and will continue to effectively protect the interests of their compatriots in the region.

Myth No. 7. "It is entirely possible that the TMR delegation will sign a document on a comprehensive settlement of the conflict on Chisinau's terms. It is sure to be done behind the back of the Supreme Council, political parties and civil society of Transnistria in whole."

This myth is unrealizable as for internal political and legal reasons.

Given the active political position of the civil sector in the name of public associations and non-state media on some or other (mostly, on the majority) important issues of domestic and foreign policy, it appears that such an idea will not suggest to any politician at least to some extent familiar with the political tradition of Transnistria. The behind-the-scenes adoption of the act that could in any way harm the population of Transnistria will immediately burst into a political crisis in the TMR.

Recall that, in accordance with Article 59 of the TMR Constitution it is just the President that defines the basic domestic and foreign policies. The president, who in a difficult competitive activity was elected by more than 70% of voters that took part in the vote in December 2011. The president, who in the course of the election race held over 200 meetings with voters, and who is better than other politicians acquainted with Transnistrians' aspirations . Therefore, the President can use the constitutional right to determine the main directions of the foreign policy thanks to the people's high benefit of the doubt.

It is worth noting that the events taking place in Transnistria and beyond and being important for the republic, including the developments of the Moldovan-Transnistrian settlement, are regularly informed by the authorities for the Transnistrian community through the national media, as well as the official Internet resources, in particular through the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of TMR http://mfa-pmr.org/ and the official website of the President of Transnistria http://president.pmr-gov.org/. These sources manage the public awareness campaign, issuing in proper time the current and, more importantly, objective information about Transnistria. Transnistria's active participation in the interstate exchange of information within the Internet space is seen in this context, particularly relevant. Whereas the legal framework of nonrealizability of the voiced myth are connected with the fact that political issues, as was asserted many times by the Transnistrian side, shall be solved directly by the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic and last of all by the Republic of Moldova because it is on them that the parties to the conflict continue to demonstrate the polar positions based on irreconcilable differences of opinion and interests. It is these issues that make up the so-called 'third basket' of negotiations and are not subject to the current discussion for the present time in the format 5+2.

The MFA of the TMR has repeatedly stated that the issues of status nature related to the final and comprehensive settlement, are not on the agenda of the talks.

Myth No. 8. "Romania's and the West's influence will immediately spread over the territory of Transnistria , and all integration projects on the basis of the CIS will be immediately curtailed."

Russia and the CIS in whole are the most important strategic partners of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. According to the belief of all Transnistrians, historical, civilizational foundations of Transnistria, its cultural and ideological foundations will, of course, be focused on the oriental vector of development. This vector is now formulated by the president of the TMR as striving for the Eurasian integration, which is gaining the status of Transnistria's strategic objective, a keynote foreign policy of the republic.

For the first time, the idea of Eurasian integration as a national idea was announced by the head of state during the international conference "Eurasian economic union: ways to new horizons of integration," that was held in February 2012 in Moscow. Addressing to the participants of the discussion, Yevgeny Shevchuk, emphasized that "for the Transnistrians the main unifying idea was to save on their land the cultural-historical feature that would allow us in the future to organically reintegrate into a single economic, socio-cultural and political space with Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus."

President Shevchuk then declared determination of Tiraspol to work within the Common Economic Space, participate in the creation of Eurasian Union, for which the necessary legal framework in Transnistria hase been already built. "We strive for good relations with our neighbors Ukraine and Moldova, for the mutually beneficial economic cooperation and fruitful political cooperation with them. This is possible within the framework of the future Eurasian Union," the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the TMR Nina Shtansky subsequently cited words of the President. Eurasian integration as the basis of the Transnistrian national idea 'logically follows the results of the referendum of 17 September 2006, and is a concrete step to implement the will of the Transnistrian people," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the TMR. Thus, both the official statements, and the real political actions by the Transnistrian leadership are aimed at strengthening cooperation with Russia and its allies in all possible formats.

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