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Interview

AMBASSADOR IVAN GNATISHIN IS CONVINCED THAT FOR UKRAINE, LIKE FOR MOLDOVA, A STABLE FUTURE CAN BE ONLY IN EUROPEAN UNION

14 march, 2019
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The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Moldova, Ivan Gnatishin, is convinced that a stable and predictable future for his country, like for Moldova, can be only in movement along the path of European integration, in adaptation to the democratic standards of the European Union, and in a steadfast development of national economy. In his interview with Infotag correspondent Vladimir Popov, the diplomat spoke also of other essential questions standing on the current agenda.

Infotag: Your Excellency, on February 24 Moldova held an ordinary parliamentary election. And on March 31, Ukraine will be electing President. How is the Ukrainian Embassy in Chisinau preparing to the presidential poll?

Ivan Gnatishin: One of the Embassy’s chief tasks is to ensure proper conditions for the realization by voters of their constitutional right to vote. This implies, in particular, our assistance to drawing up the voter’s list and to the work of election commissions.

According to the national register of Ukraine citizens eligible to vote, 68 thousand people reside permanently in the Republic of Moldova, and a greater part of them, namely some 54 thousand, live in the Transnistrian region. In conformity with the Ukrainian legislation, two polling stations will be opened on March 31 in the Republic of Moldova – one in the Ukrainian Embassy in Chisinau and the other in our Consular Office in Balti city. They have already been equipped with polling booths, with office equipment for commissions’ work and so forth.

Concerning the voter turnout that may take place in those polling areas, in Moldova we should expect maximum 2 thousand voters in Chisinau and a twice smaller figure in Balti i.e. 1-2% of the total number of registered Ukrainian citizens eligible to vote. Such is the averaged statistics of latest elections to the Ukrainian Supreme Rada [parliament] and of presidential elections.

Q: Are you going to create some special voting conditions for the residents of the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova?

A: All citizens of Ukraine in Moldova have absolutely equal rights, no matter where they live – on the left Dniester River bank or the right. We are not creating any special conditions or preferences for anybody. With the help of various ethnic-cultural organizations, we are sending to the Transnistrians the campaign materials of Ukrainian presidential candidates registered by our Central Election Commission.

Q: How realistic may be the apprehensions of those people who presume that the February 24 election in Moldova and the two elections in Ukraine – presidential and parliamentary – can cause changes in Chisinau’s and Kiev’s foreign political courses?

A: I am perfectly confident that both Ukraine and Moldova will continue their course for European integration and for the development of our mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation. The peoples of Ukraine and Moldova deserve the honor of living in prosperous, economically developed and politically independent countries where the law and democracy principles are duly respected and observed.

Q: How do you assess the present-day relations between Ukraine and Moldova?

A: “The Ukraine-Moldova relations have never been at a level as high as in the recent years” – such was the assessment given by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the recent opening, together with Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip, of the jointly-run border-crossing station Palanca-Mayaki-Udobnoe in December 2018. Analogous assessments of cooperation level are being given by other representatives of the Moldovan leadership – Parliament Chairman Andrian Candu and Premier Filip and other.

The political dialog at the level of our Governments and Parliaments has been quite intensive. In 2018, the two countries created a new mechanism of regional cooperation – the Parliamentary Assembly of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia called to unite efforts in opposing to modern regional challenges, including to the Russian Federation’s hybrid aggression. In the same format, we have created a tripartite working platform between the profiled Ministries of Ukraine and Georgia and Moldova’s National Bureau for Country Reintegration. The objective of this working organ is in exchanging experience and finding approaches to studying and analysis of the hybrid methods of Russia’s influence on the populations of uncontrolled, occupied territories and of working out mechanisms of opposing to this influence.

Q: What do you think should be the Ukraine-Moldova tandem for solving the question of the territorial integrity of the two states?

A: Ukraine and Moldova are partners having similar problems and facing similar challenges. We stand in solidarity with one another in matters of reciprocal political backing on a bilateral level and in international organizations.

Q: Is it realistic for Ukraine to achieve the NATO membership, and how soon can this happen?

A: Ukraine’s course for Euro-Atlantic integration has been officially approved, and we are confidently moving in this direction.

Last 5 years, in the conditions of our opposing to an external aggression, the Ukrainian people have consolidated in the opinion that the European and Euro-Atlantic integration is the key element of ensuring the national security, democracy and economic development of the country.

Ukraine has achieved a considerable progress in the realization of reforms in the defense sector and the state security sphere. The reform of the country’s defensive capacity is going on according to NATO standards with an emphasis put on compatibility with NATO forces, on the strengthening of the civil control and parliamentary supervision over the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces of Ukraine.

Q: From Kiev’s viewpoint, what do you think should it be done in the Transnistrian settlement to speed up the solution of the Transnistrian question?

A: For this, the Sides have to achieve the implementation of all the accords reached by them previously in their negotiation process to solve important agenda issues. We perfectly understand that the key thing in this is Russia’s desire to settle the consequences of this conflict. For this, it is necessary to demonstrate a transition from declarative statements to a real mediation to the Chisinau-Tiraspol dialog. Much depends on the official Chisinau in the context of elaboration and promotion, in the 5+2 negotiating format, of its vision of further conflict settlement with providing a special legal status for the Transnistrian region. Ukraine, being an international mediator to the Transnistrian conflict settlement process, stands ready to render any necessary assistance.

We should recognize that last two years Chisinau and Tiraspol made concrete steps towards the settlement of some problems between the Sides. Thus, they have introduced a system of issuing of neutral-design license plates for Transnistrian non-commercial private motor vehicles in conformity with the [1968] Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. As far as I know, more than 2 thousand cars from Transnistria have already been provided with such plates, so precisely such number of Transnistrians is free to go to the European Union. The parties observe the accords on apostilling the diplomas of Tiraspol University, which means that its graduates may continue their education in Moldova and other countries. The Sides have resolved the question of the using of private farmlands situated behind the Tiraspol-Rybnitsa highway. Technical questions concerning the Latin-script Moldova-administered schools in Transnistria have been resolved. All this is proving that you can make your way only by walking it, and that he who does nothing achieves nothing.

Infotag: Thank you very much for the interview, Your Excellency.

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