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Moldova calls for withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers

RIA Novosti

02/10/2007 11:43 UNITED NATIONS, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan said Russian peacekeepers in the country's breakaway region of Transdnestr should be replaced with a "multinational civil mission with an international mandate."

During his speech at the 62nd UN General Assembly Monday, the minister said Moldova was concerned about the growing tensions in the security zone and that "continuous violation of the fundamental human rights in the Transdnestrian region and the inefficiency of the existing peacekeeping mechanism" require reforms of peacekeeping operations.

Stratan blamed "separatist leaders" backed by outside forces for the deadlock in the negotiation process, adding that "this is serving as a screen for promoting some political and mafia interests foreign to the people of this region."

"The conflict remains a continuous obstacle in promoting reforms and ensuring social and economic development of our country," the Stratan said.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili called on September 26 for "a comprehensive review of all aspects of the peace process" in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the participation of international peacekeeping forces with "a robust role" in the European Union.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the peacekeeping mandate can be reviewed only by the collective body that issued it. It is the Collective Security Treaty Organization in both cases.

The unrecognized, but de facto independent state of the Transdnestr Moldavian Republic was established in the early 1990s on a narrow valley stretching along the eastern bank of the Dniester River. An armed conflict sparked in 1992, after Moldovan foreign policy shifted from Russia to Romania and the oppression of non-Moldovan minorities began.

According to the 1992 agreement on the principles of peace settlement the security zone is patrolled by peacekeeping contingents from Russia, Moldavia and Transdnestr and a group of Ukrainian military observers.

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