Accessibility links

Breaking News

Moldovan Talks With Separatists Canceled

CHISINAU (Reuters) -- A new round of talks to resolve Moldova's 18-year-old separatist rebellion have been canceled, with the government and separatist leaders each blaming the other.

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and Igor Smirnov, self-styled president of the separatist Transdniester region, held their first talks in seven years last April and were to have met again on September 25.

Transdniester, a strip of land on the border of Ukraine populated by Russian-speakers, broke away in 1990 in Soviet times on fears that Moldova, once part of Romania, could one day rejoin its western neighbor.

That never occurred, but the two sides fought a brief war in 1992, and are now separated by Russian troops who have remained in the ex-Soviet state despite promises to leave.

The region remains one of four "frozen conflicts" on the territory of the former Soviet Union and years of talks brokered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have made little progress.

Transdniester has no international recognition, though its leaders have been encouraged by Russia's move to recognize Georgia's rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after last month's brief war with Georgia. Russia says it will continue to press for a diplomatic solution in Moldova.

Both Moldova and Transdniester said the proposed new meeting collapsed when the two sides failed to agree on a venue.

Transdniestrian officials wanted the talks to take place in Bendery -- on the rebel area's border with Moldova proper -- the site of the first set of talks. Moldovan officials proposed alternative locations inside Moldova.

"Transdniester's position is that the meeting must take place in Bendery, first and foremost as this was what had been agreed," the rebel region's presidency said on its website. It said it was too early to propose a new date for a meeting.

Moldovan media quoted Reintegration Minister Vasile Sova as saying the separatist region had insisted on Bendery as a venue in order to torpedo the talks.