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Transdniestria acting FM says hybrid war is being waged against republic

February 19, 2016, 13:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The republic considers calls for changing the format of the peacekeeping operation in the region inconsistent

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MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. A hybrid war is waged against Transdniestria, and the region faces immense pressure, acting foreign minister Vitaly Ignatiev told a press conference on Friday.

"We are in a very difficult situation today. We haven’t experienced such immense pressure since the start of the 1990s when we proclaimed independence," Ignatiev said adding that "at least there is no military pressure."

"A hybrid war is being waged against Transdniestria. The attention of the international community and Russia as guarantor of peace are very important to us," he noted.

"Against this backdrop, Moldova is increasing pressure by opening criminal cases against our citizens, including entrepreneurs and officials, there are already more than 200 cases," Ignatiev said.

"The negotiations process is in a systemic crisis, Moldova dodges dialogue, political meetings are sabotaged," he added.

Resumption of talks depends on Moldova

The resumption of talks in the 5+2 format on Transdniestrian settlement depend on Moldova’s readiness for compromises, acting foreign minister Vitaly Ignatiev told a press conference on Friday.

"Special Representative of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Chairperson-in-Officer Cord Meier-Klodt made a visit recently, we also held a meeting with Sergey Gubarev (Russia’s representative on Transdniestrian settlement) and discussed prospects of resuming talks," Ignatiev said answering a TASS question.

"There is not dialogue paradigm now. Moldova is opening criminal cases against our citizens, including against leaders of separate expert groups. Eleven expert groups have low dynamics. Our task is to boost it," he added.

"Our main task is to work closely so that the process has substantive basis. Molodova does not demonstrate negotiability and sabotages the mechanism. The possibility of resuming comprehensive dialogue will depend on the readiness of the Moldovan side to solve practical issues at all levels and move toward looking for compromises," Ignatiev noted.

Talks in an expanded format of 5+2 (involving Moldova and Transdniestria as parties to the conflict, OSCE as a mediator, Russia and Ukraine as guarantors and the European Union and the United States as observers) were suspended in 2014. Relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol cooled after Transdniestria’s leader Yevgeny Shevchuk accused Moldova and Ukraine of coordinated pressure on Transdniestria and the policy of economic sanctions.

Transdniestria’s statehood important for promoting Russian interests

Chairman of the Supreme Council of the unrecognized Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic Vadim Krasnoselsky said at a meeting with Russian senators on Friday that Transdniestria’s statehood is of great importance for the promotion of Russia’s interests in the region.

"As long as Transdniestria maintains its statehood, Russia will have an opportunity, figuratively speaking, to exert influence on the neighboring regions from Transdniestria," he said. According to Krasnoselsky, these include such countries as Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and even Turkey. "If we lose our statehood, Russia will lose the opportunity is has today," he said.

"I have always called on politicians of any rank to refrain from any kind of autonomy and incorporation into unified Moldova. This is a dangerous way of the actual elimination of our statehood," Krasnoselsky said. He noted that today Moldova was "a burning house." "Moldova is unstable, so one should be careful when placing one’s stakes on Moldovan politicians," he said, adding that Transdniestria was "a different story," since the unrecognized republic had the "national idea" uniting all citizens based on the desire for independence and close cooperation with Russia.

Calls for changing format of peacekeeping operation inconsistent

According to Joint Control Commission (JCC) Transdniestrian co-chairman Oleg Belyakov, the republic considers calls for changing the format of the peacekeeping operation in the region to be inconsistent.

"Statements made by Moldova, other countries, that the format of the peacekeeping mission should be changed, are inconsistent," Belaykov said. "If peacekeeping forces leave the secure zone, armed units will immediately appear there," he added.

"Any changes to the operation format are possible only after the complete settlement of the conflict. Moldova actively works in this direction (on making changes to the operation’s format)," he concluded.

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 around the breakaway republic.

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