Igor Dodon: "Transnistrian issue close to resolution" - INTERVIEW - EXCLUSIVE

Igor Dodon: "Transnistrian issue close to resolution" - INTERVIEW  - EXCLUSIVE
# 13 March 2019 14:02 (UTC +04:00)

Moldovan President Igor Dodon is to arrive in Azerbaijan to take part in the 7th Global Baku Forum tomorrow. Before his trip to the country, President Dodon had an exclusive interview with ONA which is presented below.

–What meetings are expected as part of your visit to Azerbaijan?

–I will first meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, with whom we have friendly relations. I will also have meetings with the high level officials, government and business community representatives taking part in the Global Baku Forum.

–What are the main directions of the economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Moldova? What is the volume of trade turnover between the two countries? How can Moldova benefit from the energy and transportation projects involving Azerbaijan?

–First of all, I would like to say that the main directions of our cooperation are related to the agro-industry, energy, high technologies, municipal and urban development projects, tourism, cultural and humanitarian areas. Of course, Moldova is interested in all energy projects that will bring benefits to the country’s economy. Though there has been an improvement in trade relations between the two countries, it should be noted that this volume doesn’t fully reflect our states’ cooperation capabilities in this area. This in turn makes it necessary to take specific steps aimed at expanding the bilateral trade and economic relations, increasing the trade turnover volume, and stepping up the work on further increasing the import/export figures.

I would like to note that the volume of the bilateral trade between Moldova and Azerbaijan was $5.39 million in January-November 2018. This is 3.1% lower than in the same period of 2017. We are interested in strengthening the Moldova-Azerbaijan cooperation through joint investment projects, creation of joint ventures, and attracting Azerbaijan investments. Taking into account that our country has beneficial investment climate and attractive conditions for business development, Moldova is interested in the participation of Azerbaijani companies in the activity of free economic zones and industrial parks.I believe that the free trade regime between Moldova and the European Union opens up opportunities for attracting investments into processing of the Azerbaijani raw materials and production of goods exported to the EU markets.

I would like to note that according to an agreement reached in December 2018 at a meeting between Moldova’s foreign affairs and European integration minister and Azerbaijan’s agriculture minister, who are the co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission of the two countries, it was decided to hold the 4th meeting of the commission and a business forum in Baku in the near future. I believe that these measures will benefit the further development of the Moldova-Azerbaijan trade and economic relations. By the way, the last meeting of the intergovernmental commission was held on April 25-26, 2012 in Chisinau.

–How do you evaluate the relations between Azerbaijan and Moldova, as a general?

–The relations between our countries are successfully developing. My visit to Baku in March 2018 gave a special impetus to the development of relations. The trade turnover between our countries is improving successfully, an increase of Azerbaijani investment in the Moldovan economy is being observed, and cooperation at the regional level is intensifying. However, I think we have used a very small part of the current potential. We consider Azerbaijan as one of the most intensively developing countries in the post-Soviet region. In general, Azerbaijan, for us, is successful development example of economy, society and culture.

I would like to thank leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan for conducting social, cultural and humanitarian projects in Moldova and Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia as well. As an example I would like to highlight the building of Child Creativity Center in the city of Chadir-Lung. According to the agreement signed by Ilham Aliyev, complete financing and implementation of the project is realized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Center will be opened this year and will give opportunity to more than 700 children living in Chadir-Lung and around residential regions to be engaged with music, dance and folk art.

–After you came to leadership, there were a number of disagreements between you and the parliament. However, the Socialist Party won parliamentary elections this year. What is the reason for these confrontations? How do you think these differences will disappear after the victory of the Socialists?

–It is absolutely normal for political parties to defend different positions on issues of domestic and foreign policy in the democratic states. Problems rise when the government is under the control of a political party which is supported by small part of the population. Currently, the issue of formation of the coalition remains open. I support creation of wide coalition that will form the government and represent the interests of the majority pf the population. If parties that gain seats in parliament fail to reach an agreement, then extraordinary parliamentary elections are inevitable.

–There are decent relations between Moldova and Russia. At the same time country is improving relations with the European Union. How does Moldova keep the balance between Russia and Europe?

–Our country has unique geographical and cultural characteristics which makes it a natural bridge between west and east. Moldova has maintained this role throughout the history. Unfortunately, during the last 10 years, our country's foreign policy was unilateral. The country pursued a policy toward the close cooperation with the United States and the European Union, ignoring Russia, our main strategic partner. I am sure that such policy does not have a prospect. We can not have friendship with anyone against another - neither with Russia against the West, nor with the West against Russia. The transition from the principle of "either that or this" to the principle of "both that and this" is necessary. Our objective is to be open-minded and pursue a balanced foreign policy reflecting mutually beneficial cooperation with our western and eastern partners.

– Moldova and Azerbaijan face the same problem. Moldova has Transnistria, and Azerbaijan - the so-called separatist "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic". What is the position of Moldova in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? How do you see the resolution of the Transnistrian issue?

– I have the same position on all “frozen” conflicts: it is necessary to peacefully resolve conflicts while respecting the principles of the country's territorial integrity and its inter-ethnic diversity. Any conflict can be resolved only taking into account the interests of both parties. The best solution to the conflict lies in the win-win strategy, which involves winning both sides.

As an example of successful settlement of ethnic issues, I can name the Gagauz autonomy. In 1994, a fateful decision was made to grant Gagauzia a special status within the Republic of Moldova. Today Gagauzia is one of the most dynamically developing regions in the framework of a unified Moldova. I want to note that the inhabitants of Gagauzia are the most convinced supporters of the Moldovan statehood. Taking this opportunity, I want to thank the leadership of Azerbaijan for their active assistance to this region of Moldova. As for the Transnistrian issue, in my opinion, is close to resolution. Transnistria can become an example of successful conflict resolution for all the world's leading players - Russia, the United States and the European Union. A solution can be found while observing the principles of neutrality and a balanced foreign policy of the Republic of Moldova. And such a decision can be supported by all our partners, both in the West and in the East.