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Transdniestria talks cancelled over Moldova’s failure to keep promise

CHISINAU, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. The future of Transdniestria (a region seeking independence from Moldova) is with Russia and it will need a “civilised divorce” with Moldova, the self-proclaimed republic’s leader Yevgeny Shevchuk said on Monday, April 7.

“Our dream is prosperous and independent Transdniestria together with Russia. We are urging Moldovan politicians to take a responsible step and formalise legally the actual state of affairs, that is, recognise Transdniestria. We can separate in the same manner the Czech Republic and Slovakia did,” Shevchuk said in an address to the people of Transdniestria amid mounting tensions in neighbouring Ukraine.

He believes such a divorce would give each party an opportunity “to travel its own road, which is fair”. “The leadership of Moldova can make the decision to move its own way towards the European Union, NATO or Romania,” Shevchuk said, adding that this would benefit everyone, including Transdniestria where people are “tired of surviving”.

He accused Western leaders of pursuing the policy of double standards by not recognising the opinion of people in Transdniestria who voted for independence from Moldova and for integration with Russia.

Shevchuk expressed hope that relations with Ukraine would normalise and that Kiev would ease its border crossing rules which were recently tightened. He thanked the leadership of Russia for humanitarian aid to his republic.

Meanwhile, Transdniestria’s chief negotiator Nina Shtanski announced that the next round of Transdniestria talks scheduled to be held in Vienna on April 10-11 would not take place because of Moldova’s failure to keep its promise

“Chisinau did not keep its promise to cancel Tax Code rules that imposed excise duties on import from Transdniestrian producers. They are destructive for the region’s economy and put us in a situation where constructive dialogue can hardly be imagined. We suggested postponing the talks to allow our Moldovan partners to focus on the resolution of this issue,” Shtanski said after a meeting with Eugen Carpov, Moldovan deputy prime minister responsible for integration.

She stressed that “there is no reason at this point to consider terminating the talks or withdrawing from them”.

In February 2013, the Moldovan authorities promised to abolish the excise duties on Transdniestrian import within a month, but the Moldovan parliament failed to work out a solution. Carpov said the MPs had been too busy and promised that this issue would be considered this week.

Shevchuk said Transdniestria would continue following “the tactics of small steps” at the talks with Moldova to solve socioeconomic problems and strengthen mutual trust.

“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 Organisation 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.

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.