PRAGUE -- Moldova's integration into the European Union is the best way to resolve the dispute over the country's breakaway Transdniester region, Moldovan Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca has told RFE/RL.
Leanca said at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague that as living conditions in Moldova proper improve as a result of increased interaction with Europe, pressure will mount on the leadership in Transdniester to end the dispute that has divided the country since 1990.
He said "the closer we get to the European Union, the more involved the EU is in dealing with this subject, the better are the chances to identify a solution to the conflict."
"When we have better roads, when we have better jobs, better education, and when Moldovan passports will be good enough to travel without visas in the EU, of course, the interest of those who live on the left bank [in Transdniester] to rejoin the rest of the country will increase," Leanca said. "And hopefully there will also be [grassroots]pressure...on their leadership, which might, hopefully, change as a result of their December [presidential] election."
Leanca added that he is pleased the Transdniester issue has moved to the European Union's "high agenda," saying that Western leaders now routinely raise the question in meetings with their counterparts in Moscow.
Transdniester -- which has a majority population of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians -- declared independence in 1990 and fought a brief war against Moldovan forces in 1992.
The territory's sovereignty is not recognized by any country but it has de facto independence. There are some 1,200 Russian troops stationed in Transdniester, which has a pro-Moscow government.