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Transdniester Travel Ban Surprises EU Diplomats


EU envoy Kalman Mizsei
EU envoy Kalman Mizsei
CHISINAU -- Two European diplomats say they were both surprised and dismayed by a travel ban imposed on them, and on a U.S. diplomat, by the leader of Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester.

The EU's special envoy to Moldova, Kalman Mizsei, and the Czech ambassador to Moldova, Petr Kypr, told RFE/RL's Moldovan Service that such decisions can only harm negotiations over the status of Transdniester.

Mizsei said the logic behind the ban is "hard to comprehend."

Kypr said that by imposing the ban, the self-styled president of Transdniester, Igor Smirnov, "is only trying to make himself more important and more visible."

The ban also affected the U.S. ambassador to Chisinau, Asif Chaudhry.

Smirnov imposed the ban on March 24 in response to the recent extension -- through February 2010 -- of an EU travel ban on Transdniestrian officials.

The ban prompted Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin to cancel talks with Smirnov that had been scheduled for March 25.

A Moldovan government statement said Voronin canceled the talks "because the Transdniester administration is not ready to respect its obligations and continue the dialogue."

Voronin and Smirnov last week held a three-way meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow to discuss jump-starting the 19-year-old dispute.

The sides signed a joint statement calling for a resumption of stalled international peace talks on Transdniester's status.