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Moldova forced into buying NATO weapons — president

Dodon stressed that Moldova was a neutral country

CHISINAU, March 1. /TASS/. Moldovan President Igor Dodon has condemned the government’s plans of defense purchases from NATO, adding that they were a result of pressure from abroad.

Dodon stressed that Moldova was a neutral country. "The task of buying unnecessary weapons for the Moldovan army was set before the government from abroad," he said.

"We will hold a Security Council session to discuss Defense Minister Eugen Sturza’s proposal to buy lethal weapons, although no money for the purspose has been allotted in the country’s budget, and the government has been complaining about the lack of financing for schools, hospitals, road maintenance, increase in salaries and pensions and other social needs," the president went on.

Dodon, who is to visit Berlin on Thursday, said he intended to discuss issues of security, Moldova’s neutrality and Transnistrian settlement during his visit.

"The EU association agreement, signed by the government, is very vague on matters of defense and security. At the same time, those matters are important for Moldova, which needs to preserve and strengthen our neutrality. As the head of state, elected by the people, as the commander-in-chief, I oppose our country’s membership in NATO and other military blocs and participation of our soldiers and officers in military operations abroad," he said.

Dodon believes that this stance will help Moldova to solve its decades-long Transnistrian issue.

"If Chisinau decides to join NATO, the possibility of solving the Transnistrian problem will be lost. Moldova, in its turn, has no chance to preserve its statehood if it fails to unite," he said, adding that the majority of Moldovan citizens support their country’s neutral status, and only about 19% favor NATO membership.

"If politicians in the West and in the East use us in their fight against each other, it destabilize our country and may even cause an armed conflict, similar to Transnistria in early 90s and in Ukraine recently. This, in its turn, will lead to a situation in which Moldova ceases to exist as a state," he said.

He expressed hope for positive result of the Transnistrian settlement process in the "five plus two" format involving OSCE, Russian and Ukrainian mediators and observers from the United States and the European Union.

"I’m convinced that the current period of confrontation between the West and Russia will be over sooner or later. And the sides will have to build bridges and demonstrate the possibility of coming to an agreement. Of all ‘frozen’ conflicts on the post-Soviet space, the Transnistrian one is the closest to being solved," the Moldovan leader said.

He expressed hope that "the Transnistrian problem may soon appear on the agenda of big players."

"I’ve been raising this issue all the time during meetings with the president of Russia and at talks with EU leaders. I also expect to raise it at meetings with officials during my visit to Germany, which has come up with a series of initiatives in latest years, allowing to resume the stalled negotiations proves," Dodon said.