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    MOLDOVA'S REBELLIOUS PROVINCE SEEKS STATUS EQUAL TO CHISINAU IN A UNITED FEDERATIVE STATE

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    TIRASPOL, January 31 (RIA Novosti correspondent Vladimir Sandutsa) - Tiraspol is ready to hold talks with Chisinau on establishing, in the long term, a federal state on a negotiable basis, Transdniestria's leader Igor Smirnov told a group of US journalists.

    According to him, Moldova's refusal to sign the Memorandum, drawn up by Russia at the request of Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin, leads to further procrastination in settling the Transdniestria conflict.

    "I can clearly discern behind this (the last-minute refusal to sign the Memorandum) vested interests of some foreign countries," Smirnov said.

    (Moscow, being one of the five participants (together with Ukraine, OSCE, Moldova and Transdniestria) in the Transdniestria settlement process, worked out a Memorandum which took full account of the conflicting parties' interests in the framework of the planned asymmetrical federation. However, yielding to the pressure of Moldova's nationalist youth organizations and following OSCE recommendations (OSCE's role in the events remains obscure to this day), Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin refused to sign the Memorandum at the last moment, even though Russia's President Vladimir Putin on the previous day had referred to the signing of the Memorandum as an accomplished fact and a significant victory of commonsense).

    In the new conditions, Tiraspol will insist on including more stringent security guarantees for both parties in the final document regulating the Transdniestria conflict settlement.

    "We already had a war in the 1990s, with numerous casualties on both sides. As a result, the economies of the Transdniestrian Republic and Moldova have been developing independently over the past 13 years," the Transdniestria leader stressed.

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