Moldovan Foreign Minister Tells Moscow Chisinau Will Not Revise Deals With EU, NATO

September 11, 2019 15:39 GMT

Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Popescu has said during a visit to Moscow that the government in Chisinau will not revise its agreements with the European Union and NATO.

Popescu made the remark during talks on September 11 with Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the foreign committee of the Russian parliament’s upper chamber. He also said that Moldova does not plan to revise its agreement on free trade with former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Moldova, a former Soviet republic and the poorest country in Europe, has been seeking to join the EU and NATO for years. Moscow has been trying instead to convince former Soviet republics to join the Kremlin-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

Earlier on September 11, after Popescu met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Moldovan foreign minister told journalists that Russia’s support for separatists in Moldova’s breakaway Transdniester region remains the main issue of contention in relations between Chisinau and Moscow. “Russia’s military presence in the Transdniester region of the Republic of Moldova contradicts the principle of neutrality fixed in our country’s constitution and I stressed [during the talks] that the withdrawal of the Russian troops remains one of the highest priorities for the Republic of Moldova,” Popescu said.

Lavrov described his talks with Popescu as “good and business-like negotiations.” Lavrov also welcomed what he said was “Moldova’s eagerness to activate a dialogue” with Russia. Pro-Russian separatists in Transdniester declared independence from Moldova in 1990 amid concerns that officials in Chisinau would seek reunification with Romania as the Soviet Union fell apart.

The separatists fought a war against government forces two years later in which about 1,000 people were killed. The conflict has been frozen since Russian troops stationed in Transdniester during the Soviet era intervened on the side of the separatists.

About 1,400 Russian troops remain in Transdniester where they are guarding Soviet-era arms depots. Moscow has resisted numerous calls over the years to withdraw its troops. Transdniester’s independence has not been acknowledged by any internationally recognized country. But Moscow has been unofficially backing the separatists’ self-declared government.

(C) RFE/RL 2019

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