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Moldova Awaits Russian Reaction To Transdniester's Appeal

Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration Natalia Gherman
Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration Natalia Gherman
CHISINAU -- Moldova's government says it is still waiting for a "very clear" Russian reaction to a recent appeal by lawmakers in the breakaway region of Transdniester for recognition.

Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman made the comments in an interview with RFE/RL in Chisinau on April 18.

On April 16, Transdniester’s lawmakers urged President Vladimir Putin, Russia's parliament, the UN, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to recognize the mainly Russian-speaking region's independence.

Transdniester -- whose population is mostly Slavic -- asserted its demand for independence from Moldova in a 2006 referendum.

It has had nominal independence since a brief war with Moldova in 1992.

Gherman said Moldova took "careful note" of Putin’s comments about Transdniester on April 17, when he said the people of the disputed region should have the right to decide their own fate.

Gherman appealed to all sides on the issue to refrain from unilateral statements or actions that could jeopardize the negotiation process for a settlement of the Transdniester conflict.

Attempts to resolve the issue in a "5+2" format (Moldovan, Ukrainian, Russian, Transdniestrian, and OSCE officials in negotiations plus the United States and European Union as observers) began in 2011 but have failed to make progress.

The next talks are scheduled for May.

Moldova also faces problems with its semiautonomous Gagauzia region.

On February 2, Gagauzia held a referendum in which voters overwhelmingly expressed a desire to seek closer ties with Russia and voiced opposition to EU integration.

With Chisinau at odds with the governments in these two regions, Gherman said the Moldovan government is "facing some important challenges."

She said the recent "attention and the show of support and solidarity" from Western leaders that have converged upon Chisinau since Russia's occupation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula are "highly valued."


Gherman said the Moldovan parliament this week initiated a four-month-long project to monitor the Russian-language media in Moldova amid reports that it is biased against the Moldovan government and propagandistic.

She said, beginning last summer, that there has been a noticeable change in the Russian-language media based in Moldova in which it promotes Eurasian integration, the joining of the Moscow-led Customs Union, and criticizes Chisinau's efforts to move closer to Europe.

But Gherman said integration with the EU nonetheless remains "an absolute priority of internal and external policy" for the Moldovan government.

She said Moldova expects to sign an Association Agreement with the EU in June.

Gherman also said that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), of which Ukraine and Moldova are members, has failed to function in light of the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

She said Moldova is watching carefully as the Ukrainian parliament reevaluates its membership in the CIS, adding that Chisinau must also make a "thorough analysis and evaluation" of what has happened within the CIS during the Ukraine crisis and Moldova's role in the organization.

"What is our contribution [to the CIS]; what is the response of the organization to our needs?" she asked.

-- Based on reporting from Moldova by RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson
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