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CHISINAU, February 28 (Itar-Tass) —— A next round of talks on the Transdniestrian settlement in the format Five Plus Two (Moldova, Transdniestria, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia, Ukraine and observers from the United States and the European Union) opens in the Irish capital Dublin on Tuesday.
According to experts, the Dublin meeting will not touch upon issues of the status of the self-proclaimed Transdiestrian republic and the change of the peacekeeper format.
“We offer our partner the tactics of small but real steps in the areas of economics, transport, and communications. We believe this is what may minimize artificial obstacles hampering economic development and communication between both banks of the Dniester River. It means that a real platform of trust for further, more complicated political discussions may be formed,” Transdienstrian leader Yevgeny Shevchuk said in an interview with Itar-Tass.
According to Shevchuk, Chisinau and Tiraspol have mutually exclusive approaches to the problem of the Transdniestrian settlement. On the one hand, it is a law of Transdniestria’s special status within Moldova passed in 2005 without Tiraspol’s consent. On the other hand, it is a referendum of 2006, where as many as 97 percent of Transdniestrian residents spoke in favour of independence from Moldova and closer relations with Russia. Shevchuk also expressed the hope that Moldova would finally overcome its political crisis, when its parliament is failing to elect a president of the republic. “Then we will know who is the chief policy-maker in Moldova,” he said.
“The issue of the format of the peacekeeper mission will be raised later within the framework of a more comprehensive approach, although some participants in the negotiating process, such as the United States, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have expressed their interest to discuss this subject,” said Yevgeny Karpov, Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister in charge of reintegration issues. According to Karpov, Chisinau plans to present a new settlement strategy, which centers round the concept of a broad autonomy status of the Transdniestrian region within independent and sovereign Moldova.
Moldova’s authorities are showing optimism about the forthcoming meeting after Transdniestia’s new leader, Yevgeny Shevchuk, has made a number of steps towards normalization of relations with Chisinau. Transdniestria has lifted 100-percent duties on Moldovan goods, has simplified customs and border regimes. From February 20112, two Moldovan television channels are broadcast in Transdniestria.
“Now Tiraspol is waiting for steps from Chisinau,” Transdniestrian Foreign Minister Nina Shtanski said before leaving for Dublin.
The Dublin meeting will be the second one after almost a six-years’ break in the negotiating process. Talks in the Five Plus Two format were suspended in February 2006 after the Moldovan delegation accused Tiraspol of intractability and withdrew from the talks. Thanks’ to Russia’s efforts, the dialogue was resumed in April 2008, when the former president of Moldova and Transdniestria finally met. Later however the process was again stalled because of the unstable political situation in Chsinau. Since then, only unofficial meeting on the Transdniestrian settlement have been held. The last two such meetings, in Moscow and in Vilnius, decided to resume the talks in a full format.
It is expected that the Dublin meeting to be chaired by Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transdniestrian settlement process Erwan Fouere will be opened by by Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore.