Moldova calls Kosovo independence "worrying"

Other News Materials 18 February 2008 20:18 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The government of Moldova on Monday called Kosovo's recent declaration of independence "worrying" and "a dangerous precedent," the Interfax news agency reported.

The Romanian-speaking former Soviet republic Moldova lost control of roughly one-third of its territory, the Russian-speaking province of Transnistria, in a civil war ending in 1992.

"The possibility of (international support) of Kosovo's declaration of independence is a cause of deep concern to the Republic of Moldova," a statement made public by the Foreign Ministry said in part.

It was the first official reaction by Chisinau to Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Transnistria's authoritarian leadership has long argued that if Kosovo should be independent, so should Transnistria.

The NATO nations' argument that Kosovo is a special case and so its separation from Serbia should not apply to other breakaway regions is, in the opinion of the Moldovan government, dangerous and destabilising, according to the statement.

"In spite of however unique the Kosovo problem might be, its 'resolution' is not only a unilateral violation of the territorial integrity of Serbia, but a serious factor for the destabilisation of Europe, and a dangerous stimulus for separatist movements in other conflict zones," the statement said.

Moldova's Communist government has long touted Moldova as a potential European Union candidate with a free market economy and European values. The Foreign Ministry statement was one of the harshest criticisms of EU and NATO policy by Chisinau in a half- decade.

Moldova's opposition parties in a rare show of solidarity with the Communist leadership also criticised Kosovo's declaration of independence, without exception on grounds it would give impetus to Transnistria's efforts to separate from Moldova.

Moldova and Transnistria have been locked in talks of a return of Transnistria to Moldovan sovereignty since 1994.

Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have attempted to broker the conflict, but differences of opinion on the need for Russian troops in Transnistria, and the terms of Transnistria's return to Moldovan control, have stalled the talks for years. "This is a sui generis case," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

His comment came just hours before officials in the Georgian breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia announced that they would soon be following Kosovo's lead.

Ministers held a first round of talks in the morning and were due to return to the Kosovo issue later, after lunchtime discussions focussing on the Middle East and Myanmar.