The Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova considers that for several good reasons none of the participants in the negotiating process has advanced a formal proposal for a comprehensive resolution. Read in the following interview which are these reasons and when the talks could focus on the status of the Transnistrian region.
Have the authorities managed to convince you of the effective resumption of cargo rail services on the Transnistrian segment or you are still in doubt?
I have never doubted that the authorities are doing everything to solve all technical and practical issues to ensure full implementation of the agreement to resume rail freight traffic through Transdniestria. Some initial logistical problems are inevitable when re-starting complex operations such as rail freight shipment and customs clearance on rail lines where such operations have not been conducted for many years. The most important thing is that the sides are fully committed to the resumption of rail freight traffic, and the two leaders have both shown the willingness to resolve temporary difficulties in implementing agreements when they have arisen.
You’ve already taken part in negotiations in your new position. What impressions do you have? How prepared are the negotiators, in your opinion, for making political decisions?
There is a well-intentioned and respectful atmosphere in the conference room. The delegations consist of strong professionals with good negotiation skills and clear visions on what they want to achieve. The delegations understand that finding solutions is a win-win- situation.
When do you think the talks could focus on the status of the Transnistrian region?
One of the three "baskets" of the agenda which was agreed by the Sides in Vienna in April includes issues related to comprehensive settlement, so this issue is on the agenda of the "5+2", as it has been from the beginning of the process in 2002. As the Sides discuss socio-economic and other issues with the goal of improving the lives of people on both banks of the river issues related to status inevitably arise. The best way to improve everyone’s lives in the region is to solve the conflict.
The delegations all have their ideas for the ultimate status of the Transdniestrian region, but there is no comprehensive document on the table currently.
Is there currently a draft project in discussion on a possible status of the region? If not, why?
I am sure that the delegations all have their ideas, projects, drafts and visions for the ultimate status of the Transdniestrian region, but there is no comprehensive document on the table currently. Remember that the participants were only able to agree to resume official meetings in the "5+2" format last autumn and that there has been a rather significant political transition in Transdniestria beginning last December, which is still ongoing. Also, the Moldovans were able to elect a President and end their period of political uncertainly only recently. Therefore, I can conclude that for several good reasons none of the participants in the negotiating process has seen this as an opportune moment to advance a formal proposal for a comprehensive resolution.
Resources of the fund for voluntary international financial assistance will be ready to use as soon as Russia decides to resume its commitments on withdrawal of ammunition and weapons from Transdniestria.
What is the destiny of the voluntary fund for financing the withdrawal of the Russian munitions from Moldova?
The OSCE Summit in Istanbul 1999 decided to establish this fund for voluntary international financial assistance for the withdrawal and destruction of Russian ammunition and armament. Several countries contribute to this fund, and its resources will be ready to use as soon as Russia decides to resume its commitments on withdrawal of ammunition and weapons from Transdniestria. The OSCE, and especially the OSCE Mission to Moldova is ready to assist.
Will the withdrawal of Russian munitions be discussed in a special format or are we talking about Russia's commitment?
Russia has a commitment towards the withdrawal of its munitions. It is in Russia’s interests to follow up on its own commitments. First and foremost this volume of expired munitions presents a serious public health threat to the region. The OSCE is raising the question directly with Russia.
The opposition states that the NIT lawsuit examination is delayed and accuses the authorities of having interests in this regard. How much do you follow the issue, what is the mission’s stance in this matter and how active will the mission be in this case, and other cases concerning functioning of the democratic institutions in Moldova?
The OSCE is carefully following this case. We have been in touch with Moldovan authorities, with the Audiovisional Broadcasting Council, with representatives of the owners of NIT and other stakeholders. Our representatives have been attending the hearings, both in the ABC, and in court. I have personally expressed my concerns on the closure of the channel, but at the same time acknowledged that NIT on several occasions probably has violated the broadcasting code. Freedom of the Media is a central part of OSCE’s mandate, and we are closely following this and other cases
We are looking forward to working with you to make the region a more democratic, stable and prosperous place for all families living here.
Why are all the heads of the OSCE mission in Moldova Americans?
It is true that over the years the Head of Mission position in Moldova has often been held by an American diplomat, but there have also been Heads of Mission from Britain and Canada. The position is filled through a competitive, multi-stage process which typically involves candidates from several OSCE participating states at the final stage. I took my preparations seriously for applying for this position. I also was aware, through my work over the years with OSCE missions in Central Asia and the Balkans, that there currently was not a female OSCE head of mission. My government and I were convinced that my gender, conflict resolution experience and years spent managing complex U.S. embassies and policy made me a good fit for HoM Moldova. Now that my family has joined me here, we are exciting to be calling Moldova home for the next few years. We are looking forward to working with you to make the region a more democratic, stable and prosperous place for all families living here.