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MOSCOW, February 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Restoring trust between Chisinau and Tiraspol, not putting pressure on the sides, is the key to resolving the Transdniestrian conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, February 12.
“We are convinced that the position of the Russian Federation is justified in that the problems accumulated over the 20 years of the Dniester conflict can only be resolved by meticulously restoring trust between Chisinau and Tiraspol. And the mission of the parties to the talks, including observers, is to promote this process in a constructive manner, not to try to exert politicised pressure on either side by adopting such resolutions,” the ministry said, referring to the European Parliament’s resolution on the right to education in Transdniestria passed several days ago.
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 earlier.
“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 Organization 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.
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.
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.
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.