16 Dec 2019 17:06

Moldovan, Transdniestrian chief negotiators discussing Bratislava 5+2 protocol signature

CHISINAU. Dec 16 (Interfax) - The chief negotiators from Chisinau and Tiraspol, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Alexandru Flenchea and Transdniestrian Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatyev, respectively, are attempting to agree on the conclusive document of the 5+2 negotiations round that was held in Bratislava in early October.

This will be the main issue at the talks held in Chisinau today, Flenchea told journalists prior to his meeting with Ignatyev on Monday.

"We have yet to agree on several divisive issues, most problems have already been solved. We will make one more attempt, probably the last one, to achieve compromise and sign the Bratislava protocol. If we succeed, Slovakia, as president of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe], will arrange for a meeting to sign the document. This would be a positive conclusion to Slovakia's OSCE presidency," Flenchea said.

If no protocol is signed, negotiations will continue in accordance with the predetermined agenda, he said.

"Our priorities remain the same, we will be working to resolve all problems facing people living on both banks of the [River] Dniester: the functioning of schools, freedom of movement across the Dniester, and so on," Flenchea said.

Discussions with Tiraspol should also include political issues, including the status of Transdniestria and security, both of which form the so-called "third basket," he said.

Flenchea declined to comment on Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova's statement last week that, "third-basket issues can only be discussed after the resolution of social and economic problems."

"My job doesn't involve commenting on remarks by Russian Foreign Ministry representatives. I can only express our position, which is that we discuss a range of problems during the talks. For example, today we are planning to discuss the problems of Transdniestrian schools using the Latin alphabet, freedom of movement, respect for human rights, and tax and customs control issues," he said.

The 5+2 talks were started back in 2002 in order to discuss a whole list of problems, including political ones, as well as the status of Transdniestria, Flenchea said.

"The third basket also remains among the 5+2 negotiation priorities, and this was confirmed ten days ago at the summit of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Bratislava by foreign affairs ministers from all of the OSCE's 57 member states. The approved statement on Transdnistrian settlement explicitly says that the talks should be continued on all three baskets," he said.

It was reported earlier that the only negotiating round on Transdniestrian settlement in the 5+2 format in 2019 took place in early October, and its participants did not sign any conclusive document. The parties also failed to agree on such a document at an informal conference on confidence-building measures along the banks of the Dniester River, which took place in Bavaria in early November. This was prompted by disagreements between Chisinau and Tiraspol concerning the inclusion of some provisions discussed in the protocol in Bratislava.

Prior to the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Bratislava on December 5 and 6, Flenchea declared his readiness to sign a "compromise-based version" of the protocol that will be proposed to the negotiators by the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Franco Frattini. However, Ignatyev said that Tiraspol would not sign any document which failed to reflect the position he expressed at the October meeting.