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STRASBOURG, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Moldova is seeking to improve relations with Russia despite some unresolved problems, President Nicolae Timofti said at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Wednesday, October 3.
Timofti is in Strasbourg as a special guest of Europe’s oldest political organisation.
“We are open to bilateral talks in order to solve existing problems. Russia is our major trade partner,” the president said.
There are a large number of Russian citizens living in the country, he added.
“The leadership of the republic takes all these circumstances into account,” Timofti said.
Diplomatic relations between Russia and Moldova were established on April 6, 1992. On November 19, 2001, the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, which entered into force on May 13, 2002. Up to date, Russia and Moldova have signed about 150 bilateral documents, agreements and protocols on cooperation in various areas.
Russia is the largest investor and trade partner of Moldova and accounts for 22 percent of its foreign trade turnover. Russia supplies mineral resources (75.1 percent), food and agricultural produce (7.8 percent), chemical industry products (5.4 percent), machinery, equipment and means of transportation (5 percent) and buys Moldova's apples (23.4 percent), wine (19.2 percent), textile and textile products (9.7 percent), sugar (9.4 percent), and canned food (9.1 percent).
Moldovan power industry depends on Russian natural gas supplies by 84 percent. Gazprom supplies about 3 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Moldova annually. In the third quarter of 2012 the average purchasing price of Russian natural gas was 400 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres. Moldova's overall debt for natural gas (excluding Transdniestria) in 2011 was 2.5 billion U.S. dollars.
Timofti believes that the main stumbling block in relations between Russia and Moldova is the Russian military bases in Transdniestria. “We have no bilateral agreement with regard to the presence of these forces. They must be withdrawn immediately, which will facilitate peace in the region,” he said.
In his opinion, “there is no ethnic implication” in the Transdniestria conflict, “only the political factor”.
On Tuesday, the PACE approved, by a majority of votes, a report on Russia, which advises Moscow to complete the withdrawal of the remaining troops and their equipment from Moldova without delay.
Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the region in July 1992 after the presidents of Moldova and Russia had signed in Moscow an agreement on the peaceful settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, thus putting an end to the fratricidal war that had claimed over a thousand lives and left tens of thousands wounded and refugees.
Since then, they have been guarding peace in the region together with their Moldovans and Transdniestrian colleagues. No armed clashes or deaths of peaceful citizen have been reported in the region during this period.
The limited group of Russian troops (LGRT) and Russian peacekeepers are staying in the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic in accordance with the Agreement on the Principles of Peaceful Settlement of the Moldovan-Transdniestrian Conflict that was signed in 1992 by the heads of Russia and the Republic of Moldova in the presence of the president of Transdniestria. The joint statement of the presidents of Moldova, Transdniestria and Russia signed on March 18, 2009 noted the stabilising role of the Russian peacekeeping mission in the region and the advisability for its transformation into a peace-safeguarding operation under the auspices of the OSCE only after the Transdniestrian settlement. The LGRT guards the remains of arms depots that were built during the Second World War and that began to be moved out in 2000. This process was later stopped by the Transdniestrian authorities following a deep stalemate in the Moldovan-Transdniestrian conflict.