Kyiv, 19 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and the breakaway Transdniester region have signed a joint statement in Kyiv calling on the two conflicting sides in the Transdniester conflict to work toward reuniting in a single state. Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, and the leader of the breakaway Transdniester region, Igor Smirnov, signed the joint statement following a meeting July 16 in Kyiv.
Also signing the document was OSCE representative Kai Eide.
The statement urged Moldova and Transdniester to speed up negotiations on creating a single economic, defense, and legal framework.
But Transdnieste leader Smirnov said there was disagreement on what should be resolved first -- defining the status of Transdniester or forming a unified government.
The statement also said that armaments belonging to the Russian military will be taken out of the Transdniester area in stages but gave no timetable.
Transdniester, a region of 700,000 mostly Russian-speaking people in eastern Moldova, declared independence in 1990 out of fear that Moldova will reunite with neighboring Romania. Transdniester's independence is not recognized by any state and Russian peacekeepers patrol it.
Moldova insists that the region remain an integral part of its territory but is prepared to grant it autonomy.