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TIRASPOL, September 13 (Itar-Tass) - Political envoys have failed to come to agreement on the first meeting between Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and the leader of the unrecognised republic of Transdniestria, Yevgeny Shevchuk.
“The meeting between Shevchuk and Leanca should be substantive. Concrete draft documents have to be prepared for their possible signing,” Transdniestria’s Foreign Minister Nina Shtanski said after a meeting with Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Eugen Carpov on Thursday, September 12.
They are to meet again next week to try to resolve disagreements. “We agreed in principle that there is the need for a meeting between our leaders. We exchanged proposals on the agenda of the talks,” Carpov said.
Russian Ambassador at Large, who attended the meeting, said one of the topics to be discussed at the talks between the Moldovan and Transdniestrian leaders would be an extension of the protocol on railway service between the two banks of the Dniester River.
“I met with Carpov the day before yesterday and I asked him directly what Chisinau thought about an extension of the protocol and received a positive answer,” the Russian diplomat said.
He admitted that the talks were going with difficulty as the sides were only groping for common ground to bring their positions closer and build confidence.
Shtanski and Carpov also agreed to coordinate, until September 19, the agenda of the next round of 5+2 talks to be held in Brussels on October 3.
The Transdniesterian settlement talks in 5+2 format were broken up at the end of February 2006. Chisinau and Tiraspol managed to resume the dialogue with Russia’s assistance two years later at the level of political representatives. They gathered every month to resolve pressing problems of the population of Moldova and the breakaway republic. In March 2009, the negotiations were resumed again after the trilateral meeting of the presidents of Russia, Moldova and Transdniestria. At their meetings in Moscow and Vilnius late last year and in Dublin this year, the parties agreed to resume the talks.
The previous round of the 5+2 talks was held in Vienna in July of this year. The sides agreed to meet again in Brussels in October. The agenda of the 5+2 talks consists of three sets of issues: socioeconomic problems, humanitarian issues and human rights, and comprehensive settlement, including institutional, political and security issues.
Moldovan Premier Leanca said earlier he could meet with Transdniestrian leader Shevchuk in order to step up the dragging talks on the conflict settlement in the region.
“I have insisted from the very outset on the need for a meeting with Yevgeny Shevchuk. We support such meetings. They help solve many questions and the top-level dialogue itself is very important,” Leanca said in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS.
He said the government of Moldova wanted to achieve progress at the talks with Transdniestria on the whole range of social, economic, transport and other issues that could substantially improve the quality of life on both sides of the Dniester.
“We believe that economic development and modernisation will interest Tiraspol as they create new possibilities for people and spur economic growth. Positive dynamics has helped solve many questions but progress is not as obvious as we would like, partly due to the absence of an overall settlement concept. This is one of the reasons why we speak about the need to discuss the status of the Transdniestrian region,” the prime minister noted.
He believes that the Transdniestrian settlement is one of the key issues in Russian-Moldova relations. “The settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict is a complex issue in our relations. There are no and cannot be any anti-Russian intentions in Moldova. We do not visualise ourselves as a geopolitical player or a geopolitical strongpoint. From this point of view, everyone understands that we cannot benefit from being in one or another military-political camp. This is not our game. And we do not play it. There is a provision on neutrality in the Moldovan Constitution. It must be effective and apply to all and any military presence,” Leanca said.
At the same time, he sees no reason to dramatise the Transdniestrian issue. “Let me add that these are not apocalyptic issues as, for example, our opposition portrays them, alleging that we are about to join NATO and are preparing an invasion of Transdniestria or making treacherous plans to divide the country along the Dniester. It’s good that only a few people believe these tales,” he said.
The prime minister stressed the need to find a solution that would allow Russia to open a consulate in Transdniestria where more than 100,000 Russian citizens live. “The opening of consular offices is regulated by international conventions and at this point Moldova cannot ensure their implementation. But this is an important issue and we need to look for solutions, including in the context of political aspects of settlement,” he said.
The Transdniestrian conflict started in March 1992 when the first clashes occurred between Moldovan police and Transdniestrian militia near the city of Dubossary, which were followed by an outbreak of armed hostilities. By summer, it had developed into large-scale fighting in Bendery, where about a thousand people were killed and tens of thousands were wounded and became refugees.
The fratricidal war was stopped after a peace agreement was signed in Moscow in July of the same year and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict area.
Since then, they have been guarding peace and calm in the region, together with their Moldovan and Transdniestria colleagues, thus allowing Chisinau and Tiraspol to conduct negotiations on the settlement of the conflict.