RFE/RL: We understand from statements by the Moldovan government and press that you have again appealed for the "five-plus-two" format for talks on Transdniester to be relaunched; that you said the Russian troops must be pulled out of Transdniester; and that you discussed the replacement of the UN "blue helmets" there with other peacekeepers. If such messages are repeatedly not taken into account, might not one think the messenger, David Kramer, is in a sort of embarrassing situation, because nobody listens to him, nobody hears him?
David Kramer: The positions that you just described about the resumption of "five-plus-two,"
withdrawal of Russian forces, internationalizing the peacekeeping force, are all important principles of U.S. policy and I think are worth repeating on a regular basis. In fact, I would worry about the opposite -- if we stopped talking about those things that people would misread into that, that we were no longer standing by those principles. And I would add to that list a solution to Transdniestria that respects Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the promotion of democratic and [economic] reform throughout the entire region.
And we are also accompanying our rhetoric, our principles, with action by trying to engage more with the population in Transdniestria. Because our problem has never been with the people who live in the Transdniestrian part of Moldova. In fact, the United States is a friend of the people who live there. And Ambassador [to Moldova Michael] Kirby and the entire U.S. Embassy here in Chisinau is representing the United States for all of Moldova. So I think even though there has not been a resumption of "five-plus-two" since February of 2006, it is imperative that we continue to speak out on principles, and it is also important that we back up those principles with actions that we can take and that we can control.
RFE/RL: Did the freezing of Russian participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty complicate the dialogue with Moscow on the resolution of the Transdniester issue?
Kramer: The Russians announced their intention to suspend, and that suspension, if nothing changes, will happen on December 12. We had a meeting with Russian officials in Washington on Tuesday [July 31] in which I participated and we stressed to them our hope that Russia would remain within the treaty. We also reaffirmed our commitment to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty, but we were also clear that ratification by the United States and other NATO allies could only come in parallel with Russia’s fulfillment of commitments made in Istanbul in 1999. We reiterated in the meeting on Tuesday our willingness to be creative in helping Russia meet those commitments, including through an idea we have already discussed, internationalizing the peacekeeping force.
We do think that positive movement on fulfillment of Istanbul would also facilitate a solution to the Transdniestria problem. And we think these issues are very closely interconnected. So I think it is in everyone's interest to do what we can to keep Russia in compliance with the treaty. To fulfill the commitments made in 1999, which, by the way, include not only removal of Russian forces from Moldova, but the removal of munitions from Kolbasna. And I think if we can get movement on both of those issues, we will also see movement on a solution to the problem of Transdniestria. I think it's too early to say whether our task is more difficult than it has been before. It wasn't easy before, but I think the United States, together with our allies, and together with Moldova, can rise to this challenge. And we hope to work in a cooperative spirit with our Russian colleagues on this issue.
RFE/RL: Are the Russians more willing to discuss a possible international peacekeeping force?
Kramer: I think it's probably at this point premature to describe the Russian position, we are still in the middle of discussions with them on this issue. But let me say that when we raised this issue on Tuesday [July 31] in Washington, in our discussions with the Russians, it was not the first time they heard this idea from us. There has not been the movement so far that we would like to see, but we by no means have reached the end of this process.