On March 12 ForUm had online conference with ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Moldova to Ukraine Ion Stavila.

In the course of the conversation with ForUm's readers, the ambassador spoke about Moldova's plans on EU membership and visa free regime, about unemployment level in the country and about Transdniestrian conflict.

Nazariy Ivanovych: Do you think Ukraine will manage to do something on settlement of Transdniestrian conflict while chairing in the OSCE?

- Of course, we put high hopes on the successful implementation of the Ukrainian chairmanship in the OSCE regarding the settlement of Transdniestrian issue. Ukraine has a big motivation to resolve the Transdniestrian crisis than any other countries that used to chair the OSCE.

Even if the parties fail to make a real breakthrough in the settlement of the Transdniestrian issue this year, at least we will have certain progress in the right direction.

Nana: Recently there was a meeting held in Lviv on settlement of Transdniestrian issue. Have you obtained any results?

- I personally participated in the meeting held in the format "5+2". Unfortunately, we failed to achieve some concrete results, but at least we made certain progress in the development of the dialogue. We prepared a number of documents to solve some economic issues, including free traffic of goods and people between two banks of Dniester. 

Anna Oleksandrivna: Some EU commissioners note significant progress of Moldova on liberalization of visa regime with the EU. When do you expect to get visa free regime? What is the recipe of success of Moldova? What can you recommend the Ukrainian authorities on this issue?

- We always welcome positive comments from EU institutions and our partners on eurointergration progress. Last summer Brussels gave the go-ahead for Moldova to implement the second stage of plan on liberalization of visa regime. For this Moldova fulfilled all the tasks of the first stage, including adoption of more than 40 new laws required for liberalization of visa regime.

Now, with EU financial support, we are carrying out necessary reforms to accomplish the second stage and to get visa free regime already next year.

The recipe of success is simple. It is necessary to fulfill all tasks within the terms, set for Moldova and Ukraine and you will achieve the goal.

Vitaly: How do you cope with representing Moldova in four different countries?

- It is three countries, not four, namely Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is not easy, and my activity in these countries is irregular. I do public relations in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and sometimes take part in conferences. However, I am focused on Ukraine for the moment, because I live here. Moreover, in Ukraine there are more possibilities and opportunities to meet representatives of other countries, to make various visits, to take part in forums and conferences. Besides, the distance between our countries is not that big - 480 kilometers. It is possible to get to the place in five hours.

Petro: I wish Moldova and Ukraine had joint business without any limitations and people could travel to each other without borders.

- Presently, businessmen of Moldova and Ukraine can cooperate in accordance with adopted agreements on free trade. It is a good incentive to revive economic relations between our countries. Moreover, I believe wider opportunities will present themselves after signing the Association agreement between our countries and the EU, which is expected next year. We also expect the signing of Free Trade Area agreement and introduction of visa free regime. It means that both Moldovans and Ukrainians will live in a common European space soon.

Nota: Was Moldova hit badly by the economic crisis? What is the average level of salaries in Moldova now? And the level of unemployment?

- Moldova was hit by the economic crisis as badly as other countries. The crisis worsened the social and economic situation, in particular the construction sphere, while the financial and banking sector was not affected very seriously.

The average salary in Moldova is 200-300 euro. The level of unemployment is high enough. About 800 thousand citizens could not find jobs and had to seek work abroad. At the same time, labour migration has its positive sides. Migrant workers transfer huge money back to Moldova and we use them for social and economic development. We speak about billions of euro.

Oleksiy Vasylenko: Mass media reports say that Moldova actively implements biometric passports. Why did your government decide to introduce e-documents? How much did it cost the budged? And how much does a biometric passport cost a citizen?

- Moldova started issuing biometric passports from January 1, 2011. Old passports are still valid until expire. The decision on e-documents was made within the realization of the Action Plan on liberalization of visa regime with the European Union.

Moldova has less population than Ukraine - about 3.5 million people. Thus, for us it is easy to provide biometric passports for everyone. The cost of the passport depends on the production time - 60 dollars within a month, up to 100 dollars within a day.

Ilona: Both Ukraine and Moldova have labour migration problem. What does your government o to make people stay in the country?

- I already spoke about the numbers  - about 800 thousand people. In most cases, these are young specialists who leave the country for better jobs. For this category of citizens, the government has formed a special bureau on Moldavian Diaspora. The bureau studies the problems our people face abroad and seeks ways to overcome them.

To make our people come home we must create well-paid jobs for them. Unfortunately, the government does not have a solution to this problem. We hope that carrying out strategic programs on social and economic development of the country the problem of labour migration will be solved as well. 

Vlad: Mr. Ambassador, the government of Moldova has resigned. Does it mean the country faces the period of stagnation? Aren't the citizens tired of continuous fights and conflicts of the authorities? Can it disrupt the signing of the Association agreement with the EU?

- As a diplomat, I have a privilege not to comment on internal political situation in my country. However, I am sure the Moldavian political elite will find a decent way out of the situation.

Andriy V: In soviet times, there was pretty busy railway traffic between Ukraine and Moldova. Is it possible to revive the passenger flows and what should be done for this?

- First what is needed to revive the traffic in and via Moldova is the political will and serious economic grounds. The traffic of trains, both passenger and freight, was recently restored through the territory of Transdniestrian region. It is very important considering the complicated political situation in the region.

Andriy: What do you think about mass issuing of Romanian passports to Moldovans?

- Well, I do not know for sure how mass this issuing is, but I am not concerned. The fact is that Moldavian legislation permits multiple citizenships. As far as I understand, our citizens take other citizenships just for travelling, study or work in other countries, not for a change of residence.
What is not normal is that persons living on the territory of Moldova decide to take another citizenship but abandon Moldavian one. It creates problems and difficulties for both, citizens and authorities.

Tibor. Odessa: Many politicians and experts, both foreign and Moldavian, believe that the annexation of Moldova to Romania is a matter of time. Do you think such scenario is inevitable?

- No, I do not. I believe that development of Moldova as an independent state is more advantageous for both, Moldova and Romania. We are more concerned about the border on Prut river, which creates difficulties for free traffic of goods services and people between our countries. However, this border will disappear when Moldova joins the EU. As an independent state Moldova will gain financial support for revival of economy, development of infrastructure, settlement of social tasks.

Mykola: According to you biography, you decision to change the sphere of activity was rather sudden: from a teacher to Foreign Ministry official. How did you do this?

- Well, I thought the change of activity passed rather smoothly. Knowledge of history and interpersonal skills help me a lot in the diplomatic activity. I do not want to seem egocentric, but in my opinion, historical education is the best one for diplomacy.

Tourist: What places in Moldova would you recommend to visit?

- I sure you will not regret visiting famous wine cellars in Cricova and Milestii Mici, monasteries in Capriana and Curchi, the historical museum complex "Orheiul Vechi".


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