Interview to "The Parliamentskaya Gazeta" Publication
- Vadim Nikolaevich, the natural gas supplies volumes to Moldova and Pridnestrovie were reduced in October 2022 for reasons beyond the control of the Pridnestrovian side. Why did this happen?
- Yes, October and November turned out to be months of serious trials for our energy sector and the state as a whole indeed. But you can not say that it happened all of a sudden. Pridnestrovie turned out to be a hostage to the complex and long-term unstable relationship between Gazprom and Moldovagaz. There was a cut in the volume of Russian gas supplies to Moldova in October. Moldovagaz reduced the volume of gas supplied to Pridnestrovie by almost half compared to the previous month in November, which was a gross violation of the terms of the contract between JSC Moldovagaz and PJSC Gazprom, which clearly indicates the volume for Pridnestrovie.
Moldova does not need as much gas as it currently takes. It makes the difference. The reserve, judging by the statement of Moldovan officials, is approximately 200 million cubic meters. Meanwhile, there is an acute shortage of gas in Pridnestrovie. I had to resort to the strictest economy: the mode of supply of hot water for the population was changed, the movement of electric transport was limited, the working day was temporarily reduced in state institutions, and street lighting was reduced. The activities of large energy-intensive enterprises have been suspended, a number of industrial facilities have been switched to night operation in order to make the most efficient use of the generated electricity without wasting a kilowatt.
- "Gazprom" fixed the Russian gas in Ukraine, the gas intended for supply to Moldovan consumers under a contract with the company "Moldovagaz". Does this affect gas supplies to Pridnestrovie?
- You, I think, have heard the phrase “there can be many opinions, but the truth is always the same” from me more than once. So now, from all sorts of stands, platforms, mass media, a huge number of statements, comments, discussions about what is happening in the energy sector of Pridnestrovie and Moldova are heard. Politicians and so-called analysts have snatched up some numbers and are juggling them to their heart's content. Someone is not telling, someone is clearly misrepresenting the facts. I follow publications, media reports, statements of various officials, of course. I’m reading now, for example, the material: presented at first glance reliably, easily laid out on the shelves, sum of money. They report in negative tones that compact Pridnestrovie takes a much larger part of Russian gas than Moldova, which is much larger in terms of territory and the number of consumers, and complain about injustice. One can't argue at first glance. But the author kept silent about one very significant aspect for some reason. A huge part of the gas sent to Pridnestrovie was used to generate electricity for Moldova. We do not need so much for internal needs. Yes, the generation of electricity for export to Moldova is the income of our state, Moldavian GRES is a large taxpayer. We are suffering serious losses with the loss of the contract. If we talk from the point of view of the use of natural gas solely, then who did Moldova hurt worse by limiting the volume of supplies to Pridnestrovie? Like the Gogol landowner Korobochka, she accumulates excess gas unnecessarily, while the inhabitants of Moldova cannot get electricity. Where is the logic? Where is the business approach? Where is the human relation to their own citizens? Residents of Moldova are urged to save, and the less they use energy resources, the more their cost for consumers increases. Paradox? No, from a business perspective. The costs of supplying companies do not decrease, which means that the tariff is growing. We are talking about the attitude of the state towards its people. Moldova, having limited gas supplies to Pridnestrovie, accumulates surpluses in Ukraine. Moldovagaz orders more than one hundred million cubic meters of gas through the trans-Balkan gas pipeline, and 74 million reach consumers in Moldova and Pridnestrovie during the three weeks of November. Approximately thirty million cubic meters of natural gas have been stored, apparently, in Ukraine's storage facilities. We received 69 million of the 119 million cubic meters guaranteed for Pridnestrovie. Our industry has practically stopped, the development of the economy is impossible, a special regime has been introduced in the republic, and serious measures are being taken to save energy resources. Suppose the Moldovan leadership does not care about the fate of Pridnestrovian citizens, but they need to think about their own. They were deprived of available resources.
- In connection with the illegal actions of the Moldovan government, from October 21, 2022, a state of emergency in the economy was introduced in Pridnestrovie, backbone industrial enterprises were stopped, public transport was stopped, and the temperature in the premises of social facilities was lowered in the conditions of the beginning of the heating season. Is it possible to cut off electricity and heating for citizens?
- It is hardly worth counting on the fact that the situation will change overnight for the better. The flywheel spins. Running processes are difficult to reverse. The geopolitical situation is extremely tense. A comprehensive economic crisis cannot be avoided. We proceed from the conditions in which we are, make decisions that meet current realities. We do not abandon the hope at the same time that reason will triumph, we insist on dialogue. I am grateful to the Pridnestrovians for their understanding and restraint. Yes, this is a test. But we are not the first to cope with difficulties. Let's overcome these. All efforts are focused on providing the population and institutions with light and warmth now, fulfilling social obligations and preserving labor collectives. There are no prerequisites for turning off gas, electricity, heat at the moment. Our state district power station operates to meet domestic needs in electricity.
- About half a million people live in Pridnestrovie. If Moldova continues the policy of economic strangulation of the region, is a humanitarian catastrophe possible here?
- The fact that Moldova is doing now in terms of strangling the Pridnestrovian economy, energy blackmail, would provoke dangerous socio-economic tension even in calmer times. This against the background of strong instability in the region can lead to complete degradation of economic conditions and the destruction of the social sphere of course. This is indeed a direct path to a humanitarian catastrophe. We see that Chisinau purposefully creates a crisis in several directions at once. The first is gas of course. The republic's economy is experiencing tremendous stress, which will certainly affect the state of the budget due to the reduction in the volume of deliveries. A state of emergency has been declared in Pridnestrovie since October 21. Chisinau at the same time is cynically blocking ability of Pridnestrovie to directly negotiate with the Russian supplier.
Problems are not only with gas. We are constantly exposed to all sorts of obstacles to foreign economic activity, to the supply of the most important goods to the republic, including medicines and plant protection products. There are serious problems with the denial of registration to our business entities engaged in foreign economic activity. Cash transactions are blocked for far-fetched reasons. Chisinau takes advantage of the fact that all checkpoints on the Pridnestrovian-Ukrainian border have been closed since February 28, creating artificial barriers to the freedom of movement of people and goods. Pridnestrovian cargo has been idle for weeks or even months at Moldovan checkpoints due to the introduction of burdensome administrative and bureaucratic procedures that violate the right of Pridnestrovie to independently establish and maintain foreign economic relations. Unstable economic conditions are being created for Pridnestrovian enterprises. It is difficult to assess the actions of Chisinau otherwise than as an attempt to deliberately destroy the Pridnestrovian economy and create a deep socio-economic crisis in the republic.
- You appealed to the UN and the OSCE, sending official letters to the leaders of these organizations – António Guterres and Helga Maria Schmid. The letters deal with the emerging crisis situation in Pridnestrovie. Do you expect any response or mention of the problem at the UN and OSCE platforms?
- Unfortunately, Pridnestrovie is no stranger to living under pressure, blockades and restrictions imposed from outside. But the situation that has developed this year is extraordinary even with this in mind. The UN is a universal forum of states, the supporting structure of the international system, the OSCE is a mediator in the Moldo-Pridnestrovian settlement. It is very important that these authoritative international organizations have the opportunity to receive first-hand information about the difficult situation in Pridnestrovie. Not only in written form. We talk about the problems that are mentioned in my address to António Guterres and Helga Maria Schmid at my meetings with Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova Kelly Keiderling, in the course of contacts with various UN structures. We see that these organizations have an interest in solving it. UN delegation visited the Foreign Ministry of Pridnestrovie after sending the letter, on November 25. The issues related to energy and the prevention of a humanitarian crisis in the PMR were discussed in the course of the meeting.
Pridnestrovie has always been a responsible participant in international relations. We strictly follow the principles of neutrality, commitment to peace and non-interference in the affairs of other states. We deserve the attention of the world community to our problems, especially since they arose by no means through our fault.
- The process of the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian settlement was practically suspended after the election of Maia Sandu as President of the Republic of Moldova. The Moldovan side is actively sabotaging the existing negotiation mechanisms, ignoring the repeated appeals of the Pridnestrovian leadership with a proposal to intensify the negotiation process. Is there any hope for the resumption of negotiations?
- Pridnestrovie is invariably open and ready for a civilized dialogue with Moldova. We have always said that the settlement of the conflict is possible only through diplomacy, at the negotiating table. We are not going to give up this position, we are focused on real results that would contribute to the improvement of Moldovan-Pridnestrovian relations and solve people's problems. Moldova, while publicly declaring its readiness to negotiate with Pridnestrovie, actually does exactly the opposite, using the difficult regional situation to cover up its inaction. There is no desire to solve problems on the other hand, but there is a desire to create them. Chisinau to date has actually withdrawn from most of the previously reached agreements. A decade of active work by negotiators, the efforts of international participants in the negotiation process are thrown into the trash in fact. The implementation of the Berlin+ package of agreements, which was the basis of the negotiation agenda in recent years, has been frozen. The mechanism of neutral numbers for Pridnestrovian motorists practically does not work due to the fault of the Moldovan side and it refused to renew the protocol decision on telecommunications at all. Officials of Pridnestrovie when crossing the Moldovan border are subjected to enhanced checks, interrogations and searches. The flight to the Russian Federation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pridnestrovie Vitaly Ignatiev on November 23 was aborted. This is an unprecedented case. Chisinau is deliberately escalating. Nevertheless, we are not going to close the doors, we count on the resumption and development of dialogue with Moldova, we are ready to move forward in negotiations at any level. There is no motion coming from opposite direction. I personally sent eight letters to the President of Moldova Maia Sandu, all of them remained unanswered. I assign in such conditions a significant role to the international participants in the settlement, which should use their influence and authority to discipline the Moldovan side and bring the dialogue out of the apparently protracted deadlock.