OSCE envoy expected in Moldova amid rising tensions in Transnistria

OSCE envoy expected in Moldova amid rising tensions in Transnistria
Russian peacekeepers at a border crossing between Transnistria and Moldova near Lake Dubossary.
By bne IntelliNews September 6, 2017

The special envoy of the Austrian presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Wolf Dietrich Heim, will pay a visit to Chisinau and Tiraspol on September 6-8, jurnal.md reported. 

The visit was prompted by the rising tensions between the central authorities and the Moldovan separatist republic of Transnistria.

In Chisinau, Heim will meet Foreign Affairs Minister Andrei Galbur and Minister for Integration Gheorghe Balan. He will also meet representatives of the other parties involved in the 5+2 negotiations: Russia, Ukraine (mediators), and the EU and US (observers).

The negotiations under 5+2 format on the settlement of the situation in Transnistria have been in limbo again since last year, after a round of talks took place in 2016. The situation has gradually deteriorated since last year, as the ruling coalition took a vocal pro-EU stance and pursued measures to take control over the whole territory of the country. The first step was in the foreign trade area, where in partnership with Ukraine, Moldova is taking control over the border previously controlled by separatist Transnistria.

Tensions further increased in August, when the Moldovan authorities asked the UN to discuss the implementation of a past resolution requiring Russian troops (except for peacemakers) to leave Moldova. The Moldovan permanent representative at the UN, Victor Moraru, recently asked the organisation to include on its agenda the topic of the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway territory of Transnistria, Moldpress reported on August 23.

There will be war in Transnistria again if the Russian peacekeeping troops leave the region, the president of the self-declared separatist republic Vadim Krasnoselsky stated in an interview with Russian daily Izvestia on August 23, quoted by deschide.md. Neither Transnistria nor Russia treats the peacekeeping and regular army troops differently, in fact they frequently rotate troops from one entity to the other.

Moldova has asked Russia to withdraw the 14th Army (GOTR) troops left by Russia since the communist period. Moldova’s foreign affairs ministry clarified in a statement quoted by deschide.md that the country’s request to the UN refers only to GOTR troops and not to the peacekeeping troops. However, Moldova’s government had previously voiced its intention to ask for the  Russian peacekeeping troops to be replaced by independent UN troops.

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