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US ambassador to OSCE Stephan Minikes on Transnistria and free elections in Moldova

US ambassador to OSCE Stephan Minikes said United States did not deem the Tiraspol leadership representative of the people of Transnistria. That is why, Stepahn Minikes added in an interview with RFE, Washington supported the idea of a democratically elected leadership that would be able to improve the status of the people living in the Moldova Republic.

US ambassador to OSCE Stephan Minikes said in the same interview that a future peace force, if any, would be a multilateral one, would not be led by Russia, would number 300 people at the most and would have a short mandate of one or two years. Its presence might be prolonged, if necessary, but under no circumstances for as long a period of time as stated in the Kozak memorandum.

Asked if President Voronin’s proposal regarding a Stability and Security Pact for Moldova could help to solve the Transnistrean conflict, Ambassador Minikes said the plan was being studied in Washington and as soon as United States had a final point of view in this respect the American Ambassador to Moldova Heather Hodges would speak on the subject.

As for the status of neutrality invoked by President Voronin as a guarantee of Moldova’s security, Stephan Minikes said that it was premature to judge Moldova’s future in relation to NATO or any other aliance.

Referring to next year’s general elections in Moldova, Ambassador Minikes said that it was imperative they should be free, transparent and correct. He added that this implied additional efforts on the part of OSCE since monitoring elections started months prior to the election day. He stressed that opposition parties should have access not only to public mass-media but also to other means of disseminating information: flyers, radio, electronic press. All parties should be free to educate their electorate before the vote.

In this context, Stephan Minikes stressed the importance of sending to Moldova observers of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights long time before the election day. He also mentioned that during his talks with President Voronin, he had insisted on the necessity of free and transparent elections so that the Moldovan electorate may exercise their God-given right of determinating their own future.