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Two-day round of Dniester settlement talks to begin in Vienna

July 16, 2013, 8:52 UTC+3

According to a source, the meeting is not expected to be easy, because significant differences persist between the key players

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VIENNA, July 16 (Itar-Tass) - Another round of the Trans-Dniester settlement talks in the “5 +2” format with the participation of Moldova, the Trans-Dniester Republic, Russia, Ukraine and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as observers from the European Union and the United States is beginning in Vienna on Tuesday.

A source close to the negotiations told Itar-Tass that “the meeting is not expected to be easy, because significant differences persist between the key players.”

The preparation for the negotiations is also complicated by the fact that Chisinau offers to begin the discussions on the future status of the Trans-Dniester region. Tiraspol believes it is premature and insists on putting on the agenda first of all the confidence-building issues. In addition, the parties periodically unilaterally introduce measures restricting the freedom of movement of citizens living on both sides of the Dniester River. Andrii Deshchytsia, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Conflicts, earlier noted during a recent visit to Tiraspol that the parties “have an excellent opportunity to solve the problem at a meeting of the political representatives and to discuss it during the negotiations in the 5 +2 format.”

Russian diplomats have expressed their negative attitude to the attempts to take unilateral action. Thus, Russian Ambassador at Large Sergei Gubarev stressed that “the main issue that must be addressed today is to strengthen confidence-building measures between the two banks of the Dniester River.” It would be naive to believe that “the problems that have accumulated over the past 20 years can be solved in a few months,” he stated.

It is noteworthy in this context that the previous round of talks, held in Odessa in May, also brought no progress in the settlement issue. The intermediaries recommended Chisinau and Tiraspol to intensify contacts at the level of political representatives. But these efforts failed. Moreover, tensions intensified between the parties in the run-up to the Vienna meeting after Moldova that seeks to liberalise the visa regime with the EU, started to set up migration control posts on the administrative border. Leader of the Trans-Dniester Republic Yevgeny Shevchuk denounced these steps, which, in his opinion, carry a certain risk to the region’s residents most of whom have Russian and Ukrainian passports.

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