Renegade Moldova province: "Kosovo is model for conflict resolution"

Other News Materials 19 February 2008 19:34 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The leadership of the renegade Moldovan province Transnistria on Tuesday hailed international recognition of Kosovo's statehood as proof of "a new model for conflict resolution," signalling a hardening of negotiating positions in one of Europe's most frozen conflicts.

Sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine, Russian-speaking Transnistria seceded from Romanian-speaking Moldova after a civil war ending in 1992. Despite de facto Transnistrian indepedence, no country has recognised Transnistria as separate from Moldova.

A statement from the politburo of Repulic of Transnistria described Kosovo's declaration of independence, and widespread international acceptance of the declaration despite Serbian objections, as a precedent applying to the conflict from Moldova.

"There is no other alternative, but an early recognition of Transnistria as an independant state by the international community," the announcement read in part. "The Kosovo model should be used in the resolution of all (similar) conflicts."

The Transnistrian announcement was made public more than 48 hours after Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia, in the wake of reportedly intense discussions within the Transnistrian rulership.

The hard-liners within the unofficial state's politburo apparently won out, observers said, as the politburo declaration for the first time publicly rejected outright the possibility of Transnistria's return to Moldovan sovereignty.

Moldova's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday rejected Kossovo's independence out of hand, calling it "a dangerous precedent ... with no application to our region."

Transnistria and Moldovan diplomats have been locked for years in talks on reunification, an idea supported particularly by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and less so by the Kremlin.

Negotiations have stalled over the issues of partial Transnistrian autonomy under a new Moldovan constitution, and whether or not Russia should continue its troop deployment in Transnistria.

Kosovo's independence seemingly ended the last pretence by Transnistria's authoritarian Igor Smirnov of seeking a resolution of the confict via reunification talks with Chisinau.

"Full and unabridged independence (for Transnistria) can be the only resolution that can bring peace and stability to our region," the statement concluded.

Transnistria, an overwhelmingly Slavic enclave in ethnically Romanian Moldova, has long been an outspoken supporter of Serbia, and opponent of NATO political and military operations in the Balkans.

The Tiraspol statement nonetheless accepted Kossovo's indpendence as a fait accompli, blaming NATO for dismembering Serbia, and adding that "since the law of the strongest is the only one that applies ... and will become a serious factor for the destabilisation of Europe...it should apply to Transnistria."