Progress but no breakthrough on breakaway Moldova region

3rd October 2013, Comments 0 comments

Seven-party talks over Moldova's simmering dispute with breakaway Transdniestr took place in Brussels on Thursday, making some progress but with negotiations to continue.

"We are more and more optimistic," said Andrei Deshchytsia of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) at the close of a day of talks.

Talks to broker an end to the dispute resumed in 2011 after a six-year suspension in the "5+2" format -- including Moldova, Transdniestr, Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, plus the European Union and United States as observers.

On Thursday the focus was on freedom of movement and how to trace "borders" along the Dniestr river, but no breakthrough was announced. Talks will continue at working-group level, negotiators for both sides told a news conference.

Mainly Russian-speaking Transdniestr broke from predominantly Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1991 as the latter split from the crumbling Soviet Union, with a 1991-1992 armed conflict costing some 700 lives.

The sliver of territory along the River Dniestr has over 550,000 residents, and Russian peacekeepers have been stationed there since July 1992.

It has never achieved international recognition and remained largely lawless, becoming a security worry for Europe due to its porous borders and heavy presence of arms.

Moldova, sandwiched between EU member Romania and ex-Soviet Ukraine, has a population of some four million people.

The Transdniestr conflict has been a hurdle to its efforts to join the EU.

© 2013 AFP

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