CHISINAU -- Moldova's government is again demanding that Russia agree to transform its peacekeeping mission in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniester into a civil one with an international mandate, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
The demand from Chisinau came after an 18-year-old Moldovan was shot dead
by a Russian officer at the Vadul lui Voda checkpoint at the bridge over the Dniester River on January 1. The river marks the boundary between Moldova and Transdniester.
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on January 2 to lodge a formal protest.
Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister for European Reintegration Eugen Carpov told RFE/RL on January 3 that such tragic incidents could be avoided if the operational structure of the current peacekeeping mission was changed.
"First of all, we need a demilitarized operational framework," he said. "Military ammunition is not necessary anymore. We need a civil peacekeeping mission which would help bring together the banks of the Dniester River."
"We need to implement a functioning international operation model for this mission, like the 5+2 formula
for the political settlement of the Transdniester issue, so that the peacekeeping mission also becomes an international operation."
Moldovan Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca has also demanded changing the peacekeeping contingent into a civilian operation. He told RFE/RL that negotiations on this issue have not yet yielded results.
The so-called peacekeeping force comprises three separate military contingents from Moldova, Russia, and the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic.
Russian, Transdniestrian Reluctance
That operational model was adopted as a result of the 1992 cease-fire treaty between Moldova and Russia that ended fierce fighting in 1991-92 in which some 700 people died.
The three contingents are roughly the same size and total approximately 1,500 soldiers.
Their mandate is to control the "security zone," a narrow strip along the Dniester River which separates the warring forces.
The Moldovan government and its international partners engaged in trying to resolve the Transdniester conflict have for years demanded the transformation of the current peacekeepers into a civil operation with an international mandate.
Russia and the authorities of the self-proclaimed Transdniester region both reject that demand.
Moldova considers the Russian troops stationed in Transdniester to be illegal.
Transdniester, a strip of land along Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine, declared independence from what was then the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990.
No UN member state has recognized Transdniester's declaration of sovereignty.
About 60 percent of the more than 500,000 people living in Transdniester are ethnic Russians or Ukrainians.