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Moldova: RFE/RL Speaks With Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan

Prague, 21 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan discusses the political and economic relevance of GUUAM ahead of the organization's summit tomorrow.

Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan: Other countries from the region, politicians from these countries, manifest at present a growing interest for this organization. This accounts for the fact that the presidents of Romania, Lithuania, and Poland, along with the U.S. State Department's representative for the region, Steven Mann, have agreed to participate in the debates of the GUUAM ((Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) summit in Chisinau.

RFE/RL: Rumors have it that at the summit the Ukrainian and Georgian presidents might make proposals regarding the Transdniester conflict. What, in your opinion, might Kyiv and Tbilisi propose to resolve the dispute?

Stratan: The proposals will help us step up the negotiating process, which aims at resolving the long-standing tug-of-war over the reintegration of the Moldovan Republic. As of yet, neither the Ukrainian leadership nor that of Georgia has advanced their theses in this respect. At the summit -- along with the countries that are willing to give us a helping hand -- we will have the opportunity to examine these proposals.

RFE/RL: President Vladimir Voronin recently said that if the propositions contained the ominous word "federalization" he would decline to discuss them at all.

Stratan: This goes without saying. "Federalization" is not the best method for reintegrating the Republic of Moldova. The Moldovan authorities themselves have drafted a document aimed at resolving the conflict. According to this document, Transdniester would be part of the republic following the model of the Gagauz administrative unit (Ed. Moldova established the Gagauz Yeri Autonomous Republic in 1994). Our experience with such a clear administrative delimitation between the center and the regions could be wholly implemented in the Transdniester case.

RFE/RL: This document would have to be accepted by Moscow too?

Stratan: We hope that during talks with our Russian colleagues we and the representatives of international institutions will be able to find common ground.

RFE/RL: Will GUUAM become an alternative to the CIS?

Stratan: Critical voices have been heard lately regarding the CIS's activities at different levels. There are several proposals to revise the CIS's activities. The GUUAM states want to develop bilateral and multilateral collaboration and cooperation. Very attractive political and economic interests unite the GUUAM countries. After taking over the chairmanship of the GUUAM organization (Ed. at the summit on 22 April), Moldova will have the opportunity to propose a new program, a new vision regarding powerful measures to strengthen regional security; diverse economic projects, including electricity and energy; and combating the phenomena that negatively influence the prosperous development of member states.

(Interview conducted by Romania-Moldova Service stringer Valentina Ursu)

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