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Moldova interested in normalizing relations with Russia — foreign minister

Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu said that Chisinau wants to "return to the stable level of economic and political relations" with Russia

BUCHAREST, August 26. /TASS/. Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu spoke in favor of normalizing Moldovan-Russian relations ahead of his visit to Moscow on September 12.

"A lot of negative things have accumulated in Moldovan-Russian relations over the last years and even decades," Popescu told TASS in an exlusive interview on Monday. "We are interested in discussing these problems in order to normalize relations with Russia, to return to the stable level of economic and political relations," he added.

"When Moldova signed an agreement on association with the European Union five years ago, Russia suspended the operation of free trade zone in Moldovan-Russian relations," Popescu reminded. "However, we see that there are other countries that simultaneously enjoy free trade zones with Russia and the EU — for instance, Serbia and Israel, and Russia does not impose restrictions on trade with them," he noted.

"The problems of re-exporting exist in commercial relations among all countries in the world, and they are being resolved in the routine mode. If Russia has questions about specific goods, we are ready to discuss them. That's why we want to un-block trade relations with Russia and think that our free trade zone with the European Union does not represent a problem for our bilateral trade relations with Russia," he said.

"Of course, there is a controversial issue of Transnistria and Russian troops being stationed in Moldova," the foreign minister continued. "The government will insist that Russian troops cannot be stationed on the territory of Moldova if it contradicts Moldova's laws and sovereign right to decide what countries can station their troops on its territory," he added.

"The Moldovan government stands for resolving the Transnistrian conflict but is categorically against federalization, against returning to the principles in the memorandum by [Dmitry] Kozak from 2003 as a basis for resolving the Transnistrian problem," he stressed. "We think that those principles cannot ensure a functional stable government. Another important principle of resolving the Transnistrian problem lies in the fact that it cannot be resolved in the framework of bilateral Moldovan-Russian relations, but should instead be considered exclusively in the '5+2' format with participation of Ukraine, EU, and US," he noted.

The foreign minister said that Chisinau's relations with EU and NATO do not hamper successful development of ties with Russia. "To be honest, I do not see a contradiction here. Russia has great relations with many member countries of EU and NATO. Moldova wants to integrate into the EU and at the same time maintain good relations with Russia - just like many EU member countries maintain good relations with Russia," he added.