CHISINAU -- Moldova's acting President Marian Lupu says he is encouraged by pledges from the new leader of the country's breakaway Transdniester region to ease border controls, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Yevgeny Shevchuk, who won a runoff presidential election in Transdniester
on December 25, said that as of January 1 people living in the separatist region would not have their documents checked by border guards as they cross into Moldova proper.
But according to the Moldovan television station Publika, Shevchuk said that Moldovan citizens coming into Transdniester would still be checked until Chisinau allowed for an easier flow of goods coming from Transdniester.
Lupu called Shevchuk's statement "encouraging," adding that he hoped the new leader would keep his word.
Eugen Carpov, a Moldovan cabinet minister in charge of resolving the Transdniester conflict, has said an easing of border checks would create a better understanding between people living in Transdniester and Moldova proper.
Shevchuk, a former speaker of the breakaway region's parliament, prevailed in two elections this month over Transdniester's veteran leader, Igor Smirnov, and Moscow's favorite to replace Smirnov, Anatoly Kaminsky.
Transdniester broke away from Moldova in 1990 and fought a short but bloody war two years later on fears that the Romanian-speaking majority in Moldova would seek reunification with Romania.
The majority of the some 550,000 people living in Transdniester are ethnic Slavs and speak Russian.
Negotiations mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to resolve the "frozen conflict" were stalled for almost six years, but resumed earlier this month in Vilnius.