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Medvedev Merkel talks open new opportunities for Transdniester settlement

Tiraspol, the capital of the unrecognized Republic of Transdniester

Moldova should use Russia’s and Germany’s attention to the Transdniester problem as a chance to find new ways of resolving the territorial dispute, Moldova’s deputy FM has said.

Andrey Popov, deputy minister of foreign affairs and European integration of Moldova, was commenting on Tuesday’s talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover. He recalled that while speaking at a joint-conference after the meeting, Merkel mentioned the Transdniester settlement as being among the topics discussed at the gathering.

“The issue has been on the agenda for the talks between the two leaders for over a year. It opens new opportunities for the resolution of the problem and we should use them,” Popov said, as cited by Itar-Tass.

The Moldovan diplomat made reference to Germany’s calls for “the mobilization of international efforts to solve the Transdniester problem with the active and constructive participation of the EU and Russia”, which would be based on the principle of Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

However, the diplomat believes that following the Hannover meeting, chances of resuming talks regarding a Transdniester settlement are still slim. The talks that took place in the “5+2” format, which included the parties to the conflict, Moldova and Transdniester, with Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE as mediators, and the US and the EU as observers, were broken at the end of February 2006. Two years later, Chisinau and Tiraspol managed to resume the dialogue with Moscow’s assistance. The process stalled again following the uprising in Moldova, as a result of which the former Soviet republic has had no president for two years.

In order to return to the negotiating table in the previous format, the sides will have to iron out some differences.

“The decision should be made by all the participants of the “5+2” talks,” Popov stressed, adding that as far as he knows, Transdniester’s leadership is unwilling to renew negotiations. The Moldovan diplomat also noted that “Russia has many channels for influencing” Transdniester.

Moldova would only succeed in the talks if it “does its homework”, Popov added. “It should take steps towards considerable modernization and Europeanization by strengthening confidence-building measures with Transdniester,” the deputy minister observed.

Meanwhile, the leader of the unrecognized republic, Igor Smirnov, at a recent meeting with the head of the EU delegation to Moldova, Dirk Schuebel said that so far, no conditions for the “5+2” have been created, though they are necessary in order to agree on regulations.

“We should keep working actively. There should be continuity in any affair, including the process of negotiating on the basis of equality,” he said on Tuesday, as cited by RIA Novosti. “The Moldovan side does not like it,” he went on, adding that the negotiations should continue since it would only be in that context that they could prevent people’s deaths and make the economy work.

“For a start, we should set some guidelines, and then we will see,” though Smirnov was quick to add that “the Moldovan side does not adhere to the previously reached agreements.”

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