24/7 Tass 37a
TIRASPOL, July 24 (Itar-Tass) —— The Russian military presence in Transdniestria is an element of the forming collective security system in Europe, Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov said at the Friday meeting, which marked the 19th anniversary of the deployment of the Russian force in the conflict zone.
“The main achievement is that no blood has been spilled here for all these years. The Russian authority provides peace on the Dniester River banks. The peoples of Transdniestria and Moldova have always had respect for soldiers of great Russia,” he noted. “Since the times of Peter the Great and Alexander Suvorov, Russian soldiers have been the heralds of freedom and the guarantors of peace and stability. Local residents have never viewed [Russian soldiers] as invaders or forces of occupation,” he said.
The Russian and Moldovan presidents signed the agreement “On Principles of the Peace Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transdniestrian Region of the Republic of Moldova” in Moscow on July 21, 1992. The agreement started the peacekeeping operation in the region. The joint peacekeeping force is providing peace and stability in Transdniestria. The force is made of 335 servicemen of Russia, 453 servicemen of Moldova, 490 servicemen of Transdniestria and ten military observers of Ukraine. The peacekeeping operation is unique, as there has not been a single outbreak of violence and not a single person has died all through the operation period. The lull enables Chisinau and Tiraspol to discuss the peace settlement of the conflict.
The Russian contingent had 2,400 servicemen in 1992. Yet it was reduced to two battalions in 1997 and Russia unilaterally cut its contingent to 500 servicemen in 1998 in compliance with the Odessa agreements. Transdniestrian authorities insist that the number of Russian servicemen must be increased, while Moldova proposes to replace the peacekeepers with civilian observers.
Transdniestrian settlement negotiations in the 5+2 format were stopped in February 2006, and the direct dialog between Chisinau and Tiraspol resumed two years later with the assistance of Russia. The first meeting of then Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov took place in April 2008 after a seven-year break. The process was suspended again because of the political instability in Moldova, which was making abortive attempts to elect the president. Only working consultations are still taking place.
Moldova has been unstable since the then opposition displeased with the victory of the Party of Communists, which had been in office for eight years, started protests. The protests developed into riots and attacks on the parliament and the presidential residence. The national administration changed, but the chief of state has not been elected since then. The elections were boycotted in turn by the then opposition and the Party of Communists. The Alliance unites the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party, which hold 59 parliament seats out of 101. There are 42 Communist deputies in the current parliament. It takes 61 votes to elect the president.