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Moldova hopes to resume Transnistrian settlement talks soon - deputy PM

September 08, 22:48 UTC+3 CHISINAU

The latest such meeting took place in Berlin in 2016 after a two-year break

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CHISINAU, September 8. /TASS/. Moldova hopes that talks on the Transnistrian settlement in the 5+2 format will be resumed soon, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Affairs Gheorghe Balan said on Friday at a meeting with Foreign Minister of the unrecognized republic of Transnistria Vitaly Ignatiev in Bender.

The two officials discussed issues envisaged by the Berlin protocol. "These include resumption of telephone communication, registration of Transnistrian car number plates, schools with teaching in Romanian, Moldovan residents’ land plots in Dubasari, as well as free movement of people and cargoes, resumption of railway communication in the north and evacuation of toxic substances from Transnistria," he said.

According to Balan, the talks with Tiraspol have yielded a possibility of a compromise in three issues, namely telephone communications, access for Moldovan citizens to their land plots and Moldovan language schools in Transnistria.

"Special working groups will address these issues. If we manage to find a mutually acceptable solution, a new round of talks in the 5+2 format will be organized," he stressed.

He also said that the Moldovan government is working on a bill to harmonize Moldova’s policy on settling the Transnistrian conflict. "A unified approach of the Moldovan authorities to this problem will help reach concrete results at talks with Transnistria in future," Balan explained.

Tiraspol pins hopes on talks

The Transnistrian foreign minister, in turn, blamed the European watchdog OSCE for a pause in the 5+2 talks. "Everything depends on the current chairperson-in-office, as the Moldovan side has no principled objections against such dialogue and, I hope, we will be able to persuade the OSCE colleagues to give us such a possibility. Regrettably, it is difficult for Chisinau and Tiraspol to resolve certain issues unaided," Ignatiev said after a meeting with Wolf-Dietrich Heim, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transnistrian Settlement Process.

Under the protocol, at least six meetings a year are to be held in the 5+2 format. The latest such meeting took place in Berlin in 2016 after a two-year break, and ended up with the signing of a protocol. The parties agreed to settle problems in recognizing documents, as well as establish cooperation in the spheres of telecommunications and communication, give up mutual criminal prosecution of officials. However, the agreements have failed to be implemented in full.

Russia’s foreign ministry calls to resume the 5+2 talks as soon as possible and places responsibility for delays on the OSCE.

Moldova’s Transnistrian quagmire

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 peace settlement known as the 5+2 format talks (Moldova, Transnistria as parties to the conflict, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, Russia and Ukraine as mediators, and the European Union and the United States as observers) started after that.

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