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CHISINAU, September 6 (Itar-Tass) —— Moldovan Premier Vlad Filat will meet with leader of the unrecognized Dniester region Igor Smirnov in the German city of Bad Reichenhall this weekend.
The Moldovan premier told reporters on Tuesday that the meeting would be held in the framework of the conference on confidence building between Chisinau and Tiraspol organized on Germany’s initiative. The conference will be attended by experts in conflict settlement represented in the five plus two format (Moldova, Dniester region, OSCE, Russia, Ukraine and observers from United States and EU).
“The conference is aimed at confidence building and preparation for the resumption of the official talks in the five plus two format.
The next unofficial consultations in this format are due in Moscow on September 22,” the Moldovan premier said. He expressed the hope that it would be possible to unblock the situation at the meeting and to begin the official talks on the settlement of the Dniester conflict. “It is important to continue the dialogue and to find solutions of matters of the country’s unification,” he said.
He pointed out that consent to participate in the conference in Germany was received from all the parties, including the Tiraspol leader, who did not participate in such functions for over ten years.”
Sources in the administration of the head of the Dniester region confirmed to Itar-Tass that Smirnov would take part in the meeting.
Filat said that a visa had been issued to Smirnov at the request of the Moldovan government as an exception from measures for restriction on travel the EU imposed in 2003.
Filat and Smirnov had unofficial meetings twice at international football matches in Tiraspol. The press described these meetings as “football diplomacy.”
The official meeting between the Moldovan premier and the head of the Dniester region will be the first one since 2008 when the Tiraspol leader resumed the talks with Vladimir Voronin, then Moldovan president.
The negotiating process on the Dniester settlement in the five plus two format was disrupted in February 2006. The resumption of the direct dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol became possible two years since with Russia’s assistance, when in April 2008 Voronin and Smirnov had their first meeting after a break of seven years.
But then the process was stalled because of the political situation in Moldova where head of state cannot be elected for the second year. Only working consultations on matters of the Dniester settlement were held since then. Sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry noted earlier after a regular round of such consultations in Moscow that “because of serious discrepancies in the positions of Chisinau and Tiraspol the decision on the official resumption of the talks has not been achieved.”
“The Moscow meeting was suspended so that its participants could consult the capitals. It will be resumed in Moscow in agreed upon time,” sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry said.