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    PEACEKEEPING MISSION TO TRANSNISTRIA IS STILL RELEVANT, RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS SAY

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    TIRASPOL, July 31 (RIA Novosti's Vladimir Sandutsa) - The peacekeeping mission to the breakaway Moldovan republic of Transdniestria remains relevant to this day, believes the Russian Charge d'Affaires ad interim to Moldova, Yuri Mordvintsev.

    Speaking at a rally to mark the peacekeeping mission's 12th anniversary in the Transdniestrian capital of Tiraspol Saturday, he pointed out that peace in the region had been possible to sustain all those years thanks precisely to coordinated actions by Russian, Moldovan and Transdniestrian military contingents, in partnership with representatives of Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    At the same time, the Russian diplomat expressed concern over the fact that tensions in the region had now heightened somewhat. He warned that further exacerbation of the Transdniestria vs. Moldova confrontation may destabilize the situation in the region, affecting the everyday life of people on both sides of the Dniester River, adding to the feeling of estrangement and hindering reconciliation.

    Mr. Mordvintsev pointed out the danger and inefficiency of the use of force to settle the Transdniestrian conflict, cautioning the sides against letting the situation spiral out of control and appealing to their political wisdom.

    "Everything possible must be done to avoid further exacerbation of the confrontation and to bring the negotiating process back on the constructive track through the search of mutually acceptable solutions to the challenges" facing those involved in the conflict, he pointed out.

    Speaking on behalf of the Russian government, Mr. Mordvintsev called on the sides to abstain from destructive steps, but to try to get back to the negotiating table. The time-tested five-party format, as well as other efficient negotiating schemes, should be consolidated and streamlined, not destroyed, he stressed. He also said that Russia was willing to assist Moldova and Transdniestria in meeting each other halfway.

    The conflict between Moldova and its industrially developed province of Transdniestria, with a predominantly Russian population, broke out in the early 1990s, as the government of the former Soviet republic took a course toward reintegration with Romania. This led to armed hostilities and a civilian bloodshed in 1992. Fighting was the most fierce in the city of Bendery.

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