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CHISINAU, May 24. /TASS/. Moldova’s decision to take control of the Transnistrian section of the border with Ukraine, which has strained relations with Tiraspol, cannot be a subject for discussion at the conflict settlement talks in the 5+2 format, Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister Gheorghe Balan and Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process, Wolf Dietrich Heim, said at joint briefing on Wednesday.
"It is a matter of bilateral Moldovan-Ukrainian relations. It is not a subject for the 5+2 negotiating format and has nothing to do with the settlement of the Transnistrian problem. I think most of the OSCE countries share this position," Balan said.
The OSCE representative suggested an awareness campaign be organized in Transnistria to allay worries. He also said that this issue was beyond the agenda of the 5+2-format talks.
Tiraspol is afraid that by deploying its military at the eastern border Chisinau is seeking to establish control over Transnistria’s foreign trade and exert pressure on the republic. Notably, no Russian peacekeepers are deployed at this border section and hence clashes between Moldova’s and Transnistria’s law enforcers cannot be ruled out, Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky warned and called for an emergency meeting in the 5+2 format.
The Moldovan government said earlier that the first joint border checkpoint will be opened before the yearend near the settlement of Kuchurgany. If it is done successfully, Chisinau will use this experience at other Ukrainian checkpoints along the Transnistrian border section.
The Russian foreign ministry expressed concern over strains between Moldova and Transnistria and also called for a new round of the 5+2 talks.
Transnistria, a largely Russian-speaking region, broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its relations with Moldova’s central government in Chisinau have been highly mixed and extremely tense at times ever since then. In 1992 and 1993, tensions erupted into a bloody armed conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides.
The fratricidal war was stopped after a peace agreement was signed in Moscow in 1992 and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict area. Negotiations on the conflict’s peaceful settlement known as the 5+2 format talks (involving Moldova and Transnistria as parties to the conflict, Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE as mediators and the United States and the European Union as observers) started after that.