TIRASPOL, January 29, (ITAR-TASS). The self-proclaimed Transdniestrian republic will continue following “the tactics of small steps” at the talks with Moldova to solve socioeconomic problems and strengthen mutual trust, the republic’s leader Yevgeny Shevchuk said at a meeting with Radojko Bogojevic, special representative of the chairoperson-in-office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in Tiraspol.
“We will continue our efforts towards further progress as part of the approved tactics of small steps because the improvement of the quality of life remains an unchangeable priority for Transdniestria at the talks,” he said.
Shevchuk rejected the idea of discussing Transdniestria’s legal status within Moldova in the 5+2 format (Moldova, Transdniestria, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia, Ukraine and observers from the United States and the European Union).
“If someone wants the political issue of status to be put up for discussion, he actually wants the talks to be stopped,” Shevchuk said.
He believes that the tactics of small steps have not been used to a full extent yet. “Some proposals put forth by Transdniestria could be implemented through the 5+2 format. These include passenger and cargo road transportation, unblocking of Transdniestrian exports, operation of the bridge in the Bychok-Gura-Bykului area, and some others,” he said.
During the visit to Moldova, Bogojevic met with Deputy Foreign Minister Valeriu Chiveri on January 27, and with President Nicolae Timofti, Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration and Chief Negotiator Eugen Carpov on January 28.
On January 29, the delegation travelled to Tiraspol to meet with Transdniestrian leader Yevgeny Shevchuk and Transdniestrian Chief Negotiator Nina Shtanski.
On January 30, Bogojevic will meet with Speaker of the Parliament Igor Corman as well as with civil society representatives.
Bogojevic said five rounds of talks between Transdniestria and Moldova would be held during Switzerland’s presidency in the OSCE. He also plans to visit Moscow on January 31 as part of the preparations for the upcoming new round of talks to be held in February. The Serbian diplomat said Moscow “is an important member of the 5+2 format.”
Last year, the sides met four times in Lvov, Odessa, Vienna and Kiev. No progress was reached mainly due to diametrically opposing positions: Chisinau suggested discussing political issues, including the future status of Transdniestria within Moldova, while Tiraspol said it was premature and insisted on addressing economic and social issues in order to build mutual confidence.
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.
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.
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.
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 Transdniestrian 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 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.
The previous round of the 5+2 talks was held in Brussels in October of this year. It followed a high-level meeting between Leanca and Shevchuk.