RFE/RL: How big a part does Russia play in resolving the frozen conflict in Transdniester?
Michael Kirby: Russia, many think, helps control the fate of the Transdniestrian regime, and that a solution to the problem has to go through the door of Moscow as well. And we think that Moldova should talk to Russia, but we also think that the appropriate venue for the resolution of the Transdniestrian problem is the 5+2 talks, which include Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, the EU, the United States, as well as Moldova and Transdniestria.
RFE/RL: It is often argued that if Kosovo gains independence it will serve as a precedent for other frozen conflicts, including the one in Transdniester. What are your thoughts on this?
Kirby: I reject the notion that Kosovo is a precedent for the problem in Transdniestria, the problem in Abkhazia, the problem in South Ossetia, and the problem in Nagorno-Karabakh. They are different kinds of conflicts.
RFE/RL: Russia recently announced that it intends to withdraw from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. How will Transdniester factor into possible future negotiations on a revised or new treaty, considering that Russia has not met commitments it made in Istanbul in 1999 to withdraw troops from Moldova and Georgia?
Kirby: They are making almost all the progress they need to make in Georgia -- that's going very well for removing the troops. The big issue is Moldova. And sitting here in Moldova...I hear from the government all the time: "Please get your troops out." ...From the Moldovan standpoint, and we support Moldova on this: "Russia, take your troops home. Take the weapons home too, don't leave those behind."
RFE/RL: When will it be appropriate to bring up Russia's failure to withdraw its troops from Moldova?
Kirby: It's always the right time to talk about that. I mean, Moldova is an independent, sovereign country that has chosen not to have foreign troops stationed on its territory. I don't think it is ever a bad time to remind people that Moldova wants foreign troops out of its territory -- especially those that are not invited to stick around.
RFE/RL: What were your impressions of the June 17 local elections in Moldova?
Kirby: I wouldn't say that democracy in Moldova is perfect, but I will say that I was impressed by the fact that a lot of voters voted, that a lot of candidates were able to get their message across, and that the results, I think, seemed to have reflected the will of the Moldovan voters.
RFE/RL: Do you think GUAM has a long-term future in the region?
Michael Kirby: We encourage people to talk when they have good reason to talk to each other, and this [GUAM] provided the four countries [Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova] an opportunity to talk about things in common. In terms of if it has a long-term future, we think it's a useful forum for the four countries to talk about things in common.