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Chisinau vows to solve problems of villagers who want to join Transdniestria

Earlier hundreds of people from Dorotskoye, located in Transdniestria but subordinated to Moldova, had suggested holding a referendum on accession to the breakaway region

CHISINAU, April 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The government of Moldova has promised to urgently solve the problems of people living in the village of Dorotskoye on the left bank of the Dniester River who want to hold a referendum and join the breakaway region of Transdniestria.

“The government will address the pressing problems of Dorotskoye on a priority basis. These questions will also be discussed at a meeting between Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Yevgeny Karpov and Transdniestria chief negotiator Nina Shtanski,” Georgy Balan, head of the Moldovan Bureau of Reintegration, said on Thursday, April 10.

Earlier several hundred people from Dorotskoye, located in Transdniestria but subordinated to Moldova, had suggested holding a referendum on accession to the breakaway region. Experts say the move is economically motivated: electricity, gas and utility prices are lower and pensions and other social allowances are bigger in Transdniestria. Many Moldovans, especially elderly people, are moving to Transdniestria. This has prompted the latter to tighten its immigration rules.

Another reason is that the village located on the separation line between Moldova and Transdniestria has often been in the centre of conflicts between them. The problem of villagers’ movement was settled only in 2006 by giving them temporary registration in Transdniestria after interference of mediators from Russia, Ukraine and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Transdniestria talks

Meanwhile, 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 Karpov on April 7.

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. Karpov said the MPs had been too busy and promised that this issue would be considered this week.

Transdniestria leader Yevgeny 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 history of the conflict

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.