President. The next item is the debate on the six motions for a resolution on human rights abuses in Transnistria (Moldova).
Marios Matsakis (ALDE), author. – Mr President, Moldova, and in particular the Transnistrian region, have been the subject of previous resolutions of this House. Since the 1992 conflict in Moldova, which led to the establishment of the separatist and illegitimate regime in the Transnistrian region, there have been numerous and serious violations of the human rights of the affected citizens of Moldova. These violations, which continue to happen today, range from severe limitations of the freedom of speech to arbitrary arrest and detention and use of torture on political opponents and civil rights activists.
Calls by the international community in defence of the human rights of the Moldovian citizens living in Transnistria have, to a large extent, been ignored. Even the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights against Moldova and its allied Russian Federation in respect of violations that have taken place in Transnistria, have been completely ignored by the separatist Transnistrian regime.
We strongly condemn the repression, harassment and persecution of citizens and NGOs currently taking place in Transnistria and which is the work of the totalitarian Transnistrian regime. We call for a rapid settlement of the frozen conflict in that region pointing out adamantly that the territorial integrity of Moldova must never be put in doubt, and that the regime in Tiraspol is illegal and unrecognised, and so it will remain in our eyes and in our decisions.
Since Moldova is located in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, and especially since this country has apparent EU membership aspirations, the EU must continue to be a key player in assisting the Moldovan people to achieve eventually the peace and prosperity they so much deserve in a unified and a conflict-free democratic nation.
Marcin Libicki (UEN), author. – (PL) Mr President, today we are dealing with the sort of unwanted legacy that was left behind after the fall of the Soviet Union. In order to strengthen its internal power, the Soviet Union tried to ensure that there was as much migration within its borders as possible. This is the cause of the problems in all of the former republics, where the Russian minority forms a large part of the local community. It is also the reason behind the problems in the Caucasus, the Baltic states and Transnistria.
However, whereas in those countries the Russian minorities pose a real threat, as they generally side with Russia and, as the heirs of the former Soviet Union, seek Russian support, in Moldova the integrity of the state has, to a large extent, been destroyed because the Russian minority was so large that it led to the creation of a separate territory within Moldova which proclaimed itself the Republic of Transnistria.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have to be aware that this political lawlessness, which the Russian leaders in Transnistria have allowed, is clearly and directly reflected in infringements of basic human rights and the persecution of the Moldavian people (de facto Romanians) and has clearly also led to another kind of lawlessness, as political lawlessness does not stand alone for long and criminal lawlessness soon follows. The numerous gangs that control public life in Moldova as well as the various violations of the law that occur there particularly affect the lives of the inhabitants of this part of the country.
I would simply like to point out that possible future independence, following the example of Kosovo, where the majority is made up of Albanians in an autonomous Serbian territory, could result in the Russian people in the Transnistrian region maintaining their resistance to the rightful Moldovan authorities.
Esko Seppänen (GUE/NGL), author. – (FI) Mr President, Commissioner, to the EU Commissioner for Science and Research I would first like to say that they will still one day undertake scientific ventures in Moldova and Transnistria I am sure, but before then they have to have peace, bread and human rights.
Along with the Balkan region, Europe’s centres of political grievances are Moldova and its enclave, Transnistria. No peaceful solution has been found to stabilise the situation, even though a good deal of external forces with their many international declarations have been helping to seek one.
We are paying special attention to the conclusions of the meetings of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilascu and others versus Moldova and the Russian Federation.
It is only right that here in the European Parliament we should be once again focusing our attention on the need for stability in the region and people’s security, and so ultimately, the prevention of poverty. Poverty leads to the violation of human rights and, in the case of Moldova, large-scale, illegal human trafficking.
Our group’s resolution calls on the Council of the European Union and the Commission to step up efforts to find a solution to the conflict in Transnistria which is acceptable to all parties and makes it the responsibility of all those involved to prevent problems from escalating. We need to get this region, Europe’s poorest, back on its feet.
Maria Petre (PPE-DE), Autor. – Am generat dezbaterea pentru că noi credem că nu trebuie să rămânem fără reacţie în faţa unei realităţi care poate fi un precedent periculos. O hotărâre a Curţii Europene a Drepturilor Omului este ignorată din iulie 2004 până în iulie 2007.
La eliberarea ultimilor doi deţinuţi din grupul Ilaşcu sunt în continuare violate drepturile omului, sunt bătuţi, predaţi poliţiei din Moldova şi împiedicaţi să se întoarcă la domiciliul aflat pe teritoriul transnistrean de către nişte aşa-zise autorităţi nerecunoscute de nimeni. Credem că soluţionarea rapidă şi definitivă a conflictului din Transnistria presupune implicarea mai activă a Comisiei, a Consiliului şi a Parlamentului European. Aspiraţiile europene proclamate de Republica Moldova trebuie însoţite de crearea unui spaţiu al democraţiei şi de respectarea deplină a drepturilor omului pe întreg teritoriul acesteia şi acest subiect trebuie abordat nu doar în procesul de negociere din formula actuală pentru rezolvarea conflictului, ci şi în toate contactele cu oficialii din Moldova şi Federaţia Rusă.
Doar astfel, concluziile summit-ului OSCE de la Istanbul şi ale Consiliului ministerial de la Porto şi hotărârea Curţii Europene a Drepturilor Omului vor fi cu adevărat aplicate.
Marianne Mikko (PSE), author. – (ET) To our knowledge, there are at present no political prisoners in Trans-Dnistria. We may, however, expect to hear of new arrests at any moment.
Valentin Besleag spent two weeks in prison because he wished to stand, as provided for in Moldovan legislation, in the local elections that were held at the beginning of June. The authorities in Tiraspol arrested him for importing election brochures from Moldova, as the illegal regime has prohibited the importation of publications of a political nature from abroad.
The situation is not improving. The authorities in Trans-Dnistria ignored the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, as mentioned above, which acquitted Tudor Petrov Popa and Andrei Ivantoc three years ago. Both fighters for Moldovan territorial integrity were recently released only because the imprisonment assigned by the illegal regime expired. In addition, the dissidents were prohibited from returning to Trans-Dnistria, so that they are essentially in exile.
The European Parliament has repeatedly confirmed its support for the territorial integrity of Moldova. The Trans-Dnistrian regime has no legal basis for existing. The element of cynicism in the situation is all the greater inasmuch as negotiations with a view to solving the conflict were interrupted by the Tiraspol regime more than a year ago.
Russia could perhaps convince the regime to return to the negotiating table, but it does not. Moreover, Russian forces are still on Moldovan/Trans-Dnistrian territory, although the Istanbul decision by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe called for the withdrawal of forces by the end of 2002.
With the accession of Romania to the European Union, Trans-Dnistria is directly on the border of the European Union. It is no longer appropriate for us to continue to adopt the role of observers. The European Union must participate in the negotiations concerning the Trans-Dnistria conflict as an equal partner and as an active party.
Gérard Onesta (Verts/ALE), author. – (FR) Mr President, I dream, ladies and gentlemen, of a Thursday afternoon when here, in plenary, against the backdrop of these emergencies, we will no longer have to speak of the suspicious role played by Russia. When it is not Chechnya, it is Transnistria; when it is not Transnistria, it is the disposing of journalists. I believe that we have a big problem on our doorstep, and that problem is Russia, because, on this matter as on so many others, the solution lies with Moscow. Everyone here, in this House, knows this. I believe that the Commission must put its foot down, because these continuous destabilisation attempts that Russia is making to try to regain the power of its Soviet-era empire are no longer acceptable in the third millennium.
This situation has been going on for almost 15 years now. Fifteen years, that is a huge amount of time! That means that there are entire sections of the population of that country that have known only destabilisation and this authoritarian and self-proclaimed regime. I shall not go into all the human rights violations because other speakers have done so, although, like them, I must point out that action absolutely must be taken in the cases of Mr Tudor Petrov-Popa and of Mr Andrei Ivantoc. Having said that, this matter really must be addressed from an overall perspective.
This is a frozen conflict. I hate that word, as if a conflict could be frozen, as if a conflict were something cold, languishing somewhere in a cupboard. Men and women are suffering because the law is not being upheld. Let us not forget that Moldova is hardly far away; it is on the edge of the European Union. Talking about Transnistria is just like looking across the street. I genuinely call on the Commission to look at what is taking place across the street.
Bernd Posselt, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Bessarabia, cradle of the Republic of Moldova and of the adjacent territories of Ukraine, was a flourishing Europe in miniature, in which Romanians, Ukrainians, Russians and Germans – the family of the incumbent President of the Federal Republic comes from there – as well as Caucasians and many other peoples lived together in peace. This makes it all the more appalling that we are confronted there today with the criminal legacy of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. If that pact had not been made between Hitler and Stalin, that territory would have joined the European Union at the start of this year as part of Romania. We must not forget that, and it means that we have a particular responsibility.
The criminal Stalinist construct known as Transnistria has absolutely nothing to do with what we are seeing in Kosovo. On that count I must take issue for once with my honourable Polish colleague Mr Libicki. Kosovo is a democratic country in which genocide took place, in which the UN and NATO intervened to stop the killing. Comparing that with the situation in the criminal Stalinist construct known as Transnistria is truly a matter of confusing chalk and cheese.
We must dissolve that criminal construct in Transnistria, and we must integrate the area into Europe, step by step. That is our historic responsibility. And in particular we must remind Russia that it made certain commitments at the OSCE summit in Istanbul all of eight years ago, not a single one of which has been honoured to this day. We cannot accept this, and we must do some plain talking to our Russian partners who uphold that construct in Transnistria, because without them that criminal construct would have been consigned to history long ago.
Józef Pinior, on behalf of the PSE Group – (PL) Mr President, the European Parliament is once again dealing with the issue of human rights in Transnistria. I myself have already spoken on this issue on a number of occasions. This territory is in the centre of what we consider as Europe, the centre of the European continent. There is no freedom of information in this territory. None of the liberal and democratic freedoms which we in the European Union take for granted exist. Russia is involved in the region’s affairs, as it is only thanks to the protection of the Russian state that this bizarre situation, this strange territory, this peculiar power is able to maintain itself. I would like to remind you that, this year, Gazprom took over control of Moldova’s national gas company, Moldova Gas.
As a result of Romania’s membership of the European Union, the matter of Transnistria is, at the moment, one of the European Union's basic problems. I appeal to the European Parliament to ask the European Union institutions to properly take this matter in hand. I would like to ask for plans to be drawn up to change this strange and very dangerous situation, which is a threat to peace, democracy and stability on the European continent. Let us take real action to change the situation on the European Union’s borders.
Roberta Alma Anastase (PPE-DE). – Atunci când privim dintr-o perspectivă globală sau regională conflictul îngheţat din Transnistria, obişnuim să spunem că este o zonă generatoare de instabilitate şi insecuritate aflată sub controlul unui regim autoritar şi nelegitim. În viaţa de zi cu zi a oamenilor de acolo, acest lucru se traduce prin a nu putea să mergi la şcoală, prin a nu putea să-ţi vizitezi mama sau prin a trăi într-o lume controlată cu arma la brâu, în care doar cei care vor să vorbească despre ordine şi libertate intră în închisori, sfârşim prin a fi torturaţi chiar de aşa-zisele autorităţi. De aceea, dezbaterea de astăzi este una foarte importantă.
În demersul nostru am pornit de la un exemplu care a ajuns să fie cunoscut întregii lumi, cel al domnilor Ivanţoc şi Popa. Vreau să atrag atenţia că o mulţime tăcută de oameni suferă acolo fără ca noi să le cunoaştem numele sau să le auzim glasurile disperate. Este nevoie ca Uniunea Europeană să se implice profund în soluţionarea definitivă a conflictului transnistrean în conformitate cu standardele internaţionale. Uniunea Europeană trebuie să-şi activeze la maximum toate instrumentele pentru a contribui substanţial la crearea unui veritabil spaţiu de pace şi democraţie în vecinătatea de est, implicit în Transnistria. În viaţa de zi cu zi a oamenilor de acolo, asta se va traduce prin a avea dreptul de a merge la şcoală, să vorbeşti liber, să poţi să-ţi vizitezi mama.
Tadeusz Zwiefka (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, I have the impression that the strange administrative creations which exist in Transnistria are only there to remind us how little it takes to create a situation where infringements of human rights are viewed as the norm and where the modus operandi is based on a lack of respect for the law and the voice of the international community.
If anyone has forgotten or would like to know what the KGB’s version of model Communism looks like, they should go to the Transnistrian region. In spite of the strong efforts of international organisations, nothing has changed for years. Today, Transnistria is the European, if not the global, centre of the illegal arms trade. Weapons are sold to the most volatile parts of the world. It is also a base for trafficking drugs, women and children, with a total lack of respect for the rights of detainees.
If we do not do our duty and try to change the situation, we may well find that attitudes of which we utterly disapprove win the day. I would like to add an amendment to the resolution on which we will be voting. Mr Tudor Popa is mentioned. He was, we are happy to say, recently released. Both parts of his surname are mentioned in the text, namely Petrov-Popa. He does not wish the Russian part of his name to be used, as it was forced upon him by the self-proclaimed authorities in the Transnistria, and his name should therefore read: Tudor Popa.
Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. Mr President, strengthening democracy and the rule of law and ensuring due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are at the very heart of EU-Moldova relations. These are also key elements of the European Union-Moldova Action Plan endorsed in February 2005.
The European Commission monitors closely, on a continuous basis, that these rights and principles are respected by the Moldovan authorities. We discuss these issues regularly and openly with our Moldovan partners and encourage them on every occasion to ensure the full implementation and practice of these key principles for the benefit of Moldovan citizens and European Union-Moldovan relations.
As regards the situation in the Transnistrian region, this region is de facto not under the control of the government in Chisinau. This is to say that the reforms which have taken place in Moldova have not taken place in the Transnistrian region. This also implies that de facto the European Union-Moldova Action Plan and the European Union’s support for the reform process in Moldova have so far not had a real impact on the situation in the Transnistrian region.
The situation in the region regarding democracy, the rule of law and human rights is, therefore, highly problematic. Showing every citizen of Moldova, including those in Transnistria, the benefits of a closer relationship with the European Union, including the implications this has for internal reform and respect for human rights, is an important element of our work. It is a key aspect of our work in the context of the Transnistrian settlement efforts.
The European Union is strongly engaged in the Transnistrian settlement efforts with the aim to contribute to the settlement of this frozen conflict. The result of such a settlement must be based on the principles of Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and on the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
As part of these efforts, we try to increasingly involve in our work NGOs and civil society in the Transnistrian region. To that end, the Commission will also be providing financial assistance under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument with the objective of strengthening civil society in Transnistria.
I should like to thank you for all your comments and that I took note of your views, including the view that the role of the European Union in the settlement talks should be upgraded.
The need for a settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, based on the principles of Moldovan sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, is raised consistently and at all levels by the EU in its contacts with Russia.
Let me reiterate our strong commitment to supporting the reform process in Moldova and its deep involvement in efforts to work towards a settlement of the Transnistrian issue. The objective of these efforts is a reunified Moldova, based on the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
President. – The debate is closed.
The vote will take place at the end of the debate.
Written statement (Rule 142)
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FI) The situation in Transnistria is a serious reminder that there are also flagrant and conspicuous human rights violations within Europe. The indifference of the separatist, authoritarian Transnistrian administration to the rule of law and democracy has been in evidence now for 15 years.
Human rights violations in Transnistria are also an indication that the consequence of the prolonged Government crisis is that no progress is being made in the area of civil rights. Thus it may not be possible for human rights to become established unless the dispute between Moldova and Transnistria is resolved in a permanent and sustainable way. Now things have reached stalemate: the parties have hardened their stand. Human rights are being trampled upon, and the independent media and NGOs are under attack.
Moldova has a right to territorial unity and its entire nation a right to fundamental rights.
Moldova wants to join the Union. Clearly the Transnistrian problem needs to be resolved before the door to integration can finally open.