Talks aimed at resolving the conflict over Moldova's separatist region of Transdniester have made "substantial progress," according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The OSCE said in a statement that representatives from Moldova and Transniester attending talks in Vienna on November 27 "confirmed progress on several of the eight issues previously identified... and made a commitment to finalize the remaining issues at the beginning of next year."
The meeting held in the Austrian capital in the so-called 5+2 format was also attended by representatives from the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union.
Transdniester declared independence from then-Soviet Moldova in 1990. Moldovan forces and Moscow-backed Transdniester fought a short war in 1992 over fears that newly independent Moldova would seek reunification with neighboring Romania. The conflict ended with a cease-fire agreement after Russian troops in the region intervened on the side of the separatists.
Some 1,400 Russian troops remain in Transdniester guarding Soviet-era arms depots. Transdniester's independence is recognized by no country, but Moscow has been unofficially backing the separatist regime.
The OSCE statement, which was issued on November 28, quoted Wolf Dietrich Heim, special representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office, as saying that the sides "further solidified the agreements on several social and economic issues signed in recent days."
"There is a clear understanding among the participants that the remaining issues will be addressed and swiftly implemented," he added.
As a result of the talks, the sides signed a protocol outlining the "recent significant agreements on the ground" and referring to the next steps in the negotiations.
It cited “the signed agreements on apostilization of educational documents issued in [Transniester], organization of interaction in the field of telecommunications, ensuring the functioning of the Moldova-administered Latin Script Schools, use of farmlands in Dubasari region, as well as the opening of the bridge across the Dniester/Nistru River between villages Gura Bicului and Bychok."