Meeting with Russian president Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin on February 25, Moldovan president Petru Lucinschi called for accelerating the talks to settle the Transdniester issue in the course of this year and for finalizing the arrangements to withdraw Russian troops from Moldova. Lucinschi urged implementation of the plan, unveiled last week by Russian Defense Council secretary Yuri Baturin, to halve the number of Russian troops in Moldova to 2,500 by the end of 1997.
Lucinschi insisted that Moldova’s constitution and its neutral status rule out the stationing of any foreign troops. He also stressed the need to settle Transdniester’s political status within Moldova and to dissolve Tiraspol’s army before the last Russian troops and arms stockpiles are withdrawn. That sequence is necessary in order to prevent Transdniester’s 5,000 to 7,000-strong army from seizing Russian arsenals and tightening its grip on the region after the Russian troops leave.
On the vexing issue of the Russian-Moldovan interstate treaty, signed in 1990 but unratified by Russia, Lucinschi proposed abandoning that outdated agreement and negotiating a new one that would reflect present conditions and meet international legal standards. He also encouraged Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to finance cultural programs for the Russian diaspora in Moldova and scholarships for that diaspora’s youth. (Basapress, Flux, Russian agencies, February 25-26)
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