Source Pravda.Ru

Moldova asks OSCE to make Russia withdraw its troops from country

Moldova's foreign minister called on Europe's top security organization Tuesday to put pressure on Russia to withdraw its troops from Moldova. Andrei Stratan, who met with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe chairman Dmitrij Rupel, urged the organization to discuss Moldova's problems at its annual meeting in December.

He said Russia refuses to abide by a 1999 agreement with the OSCE to withdraw its 1,500 troops from Moldova. The Kremlin missed a 2003 deadline to withdraw the troops, hurting its relations with the Moldovan government.

Rupel, also Slovenia's foreign minister, also discussed a separatist crisis in the eastern Moldovan province of Trans-Dniester. The two officials said they hoped renewed talks between Moldova and Trans-Dniester during Oct. 27-28 would help find a solution to the conflict.

"For the OSCE, any acceptable solution has to fully respect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, while providing a special status for Moldova's Trans-Dniester region," Rupel said.

He added that the OSCE might not send monitors or recognize elections organized by Trans-Dniester authorities, which have plan a vote for December. "The current situation in Trans-Dniester regarding freedom of speech and the press, or political pluralism, does not create an atmosphere conducive for democratic elections in the region," he said.

The OSCE is one of the mediators in the talks, alongside Russia and Ukraine. The United States and the European Union would also take part in the meetings as observers.

During the visit, Rupel also met Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin and Trans-Dniester leader Igor Smirnov.

Pro-Russian Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1992 after a short war that left 1,500 people dead.

The province is not recognized internationally, but receives strong support from Russia, which considers it a strategic location for its troops in Eastern Europe.

T.E.

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