Lavrov criticizes attempts to sabotage "frozen" conflict talks

MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian foreign minister criticized Thursday what he termed as attempts to hamper negotiations on two self-proclaimed republics at the center of long-running disputes in the former Soviet Union.

"We are concerned about systematic attempts to undermine the existing negotiation formats in Transdnestr [in Moldova] and South Ossetia [in Georgia], to sabotage their work, and at the same time present these formats as incapable of producing results," Sergei Lavrov told Russian television.

He said that the talks had stalled because the authorities in Moldova and Georgia were unwilling to implement the decisions adopted by negotiators, which caused legitimate concerns among international intermediaries, including Russia, the European Union and the United States.

"We hope that our partners [in negotiations] will follow the same working principles as we do - mutual trust, transparency, predictability - and will certainly follow the existing agreements, which allowed us to build peacekeeping mechanisms and prevented new bloodshed in the former Soviet republics in the last 12 years," Lavrov said.

The two regions broke away from their respective central authorities in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ceasefire agreements in the early 1990s brought an end to the bloodshed then, but no final treaties on their statuses have been concluded.

Tension around the situation in Transdnestr has flared in the last few days after Moldova imposed new customs regulations, outlined in a joint communique adopted by the prime ministers of Ukraine and Moldova on December 30, 2005, and endorsed by the Ukrainian Cabinet in a March 1 decree, required all Transdnestr goods bound for Ukraine to bear an official Moldovan stamp. Officials in Tiraspol and Moscow have said the move represents an economic blockade of the breakaway region.

Meanwhile, relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have deteriorated since the start of the year over a series of incidents involving Russian peacekeepers stationed in the zone of the conflict with South Ossetia.

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