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United States Disappointed by Latest Transnistria Conflict Talks

22 December 2005

Attributes lack of progress to Transnistrian side's "obstructive attitude"

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States is disappointed at the lack of progress in talks held December 15 and 16 in the latest round of negotiations to settle the conflict over Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.

“There was virtually no progress achieved, due mainly to the obstructive attitude adopted by the Transnistrian side,” Ambassador Julie Finley, the U.S. permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said December 22.

The negotiations resumed October 27-28 after a 15-month hiatus. The United States considered the October round “a small step forward” because the sides were able to reach agreement on such issues as an international assessment mission to evaluate conditions for free and fair elections in Transnistria; the exchange of military information; and setting rough parameters for a factory-monitoring mission in Transnistria. (See related article.)

 “The next round of talks, scheduled for January 26 and 27 in Moldova, will be an opportunity for the sides to reinvigorate their efforts and to demonstrate that they take the negotiations seriously,” Finley told the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, Austria.  “In particular, we call on the Transnistrian side to comply with both the spirit and words of the protocols from the two previous rounds in the 5-plus-2 format and provide complete military data to the OSCE as soon as possible.”

The 5-plus-2 format refers to the five principal participants involved in the negotiations – the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria along with the Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE as mediators – plus the United States and the European Union as observers.

A narrow strip of Moldovan territory between the Dniester River and Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine, Transnistria declared independence in September 1991. Soon after, fighting broke out between the government forces and Transnistrians. The conflict was halted by Russian troops, who remain in the region despite Russian pledges at the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Summit to withdraw them.

Calls for Russia to fulfill its pledge to withdraw its troops from Moldova have accompanied U.S. statements on the conflict for years, and Finley’s statement December 22 was no exception. “Nothing,” she said, “would help the settlement process more tangibly than for the Russian Federation to resume the withdrawal of its forces from Moldovan territory in fulfillment of its 1999 Istanbul Summit commitment.”

The conflict has been complicated by the fact that the Slavic majority in Transnistria speaks Russian or Ukrainian, while the majority on the west side of the Dniester River – formerly part of Romania – speaks Moldovan, a language very similar to Romanian, and was joined with Transnistria to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic only after World War II.

The United States supports a peaceful settlement to the conflict that fully respects Moldova's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, Finley said.

“We look forward to reviewing the OSCE Mission's plan for a mission to assess prospects for free and fair democratic elections in the Transnistrian region, and we hope that early 2006 will see real progress on proposals to monitor Transnistria's military-industrial enterprises and to transform and internationalize the peacekeeping forces,” she said.

For additional information, see a State Department fact sheet on the history of the Transnistrian conflict and U.S. policy in support of a peaceful resolution.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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