Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti has called on the European Union to maintain sanctions on Russia, saying Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region was the Kremlin's "first experiment" with fueling separatist conflict.
Meeting with visiting Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on June 10, Timofti said that, long before the Ukraine crisis, which provoked the sanctions on Russia, Moscow backed independence efforts in Transdniester, and it continues to hinder Moldova's efforts to integrate with the European Union.
"Russia's interest in preserving its influence in this zone is a serious obstacle on the way to Moldova's rapprochement with the European Union," and that is why U.S. and EU sanctions are needed and should stay in place, he said, according to a statement from his office.
Timofti said Russia has continued to support Transdniester's separatist efforts. The breakaway region declared independence from Moldova in 1990 but has not been widely recognized as a state.
Moreover, Russia appears to be behind attempts to spread a separatist policy elsewhere in the country even today, Timofti's press service quoted him as saying.
Timofti stressed the need to withdraw Russian soldiers and weapons from Transdniester in compliance with commitments made in a summit declaration by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1999.