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Ukrainian Plan to settle Transdnister dispute discussed for two days in Vinnitsa

Moldova and secessionist Transdniester attended a round of talks on 16 and 17 May in the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa. Representatives of the OSCE, Ukraine and Russia, which are part of the Transdniester negotiations framework, were also present at the Vinnitsa talks, where the Ukrainian delegation presented in detail president Yushchenko’s plan to settle the 13-year-old conflict.

William Hill, the OSCE's ambassador to Moldova, told RFE/RL that both Moldova and Ukraine lobbied to include the U.S. and EU in future negotiations. It is unclear whether Transdniester supports the proposal. Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan told RFE/RL that his government has forwarded official invitations to the European Union, the United States, and also Romania to join the negotiations.

Stratan added the European Union has already responded favorably. "This demonstrates once again that the EU intends to offer assistance to Moldova and to find the mechanism for the peaceful solution of the Transdniestrian dispute." – Stratan said.

The new seven-point plan was put forward by Ukrainian President Yushchenko during a 22 April GUUAM summit in Chisinau. The plan calls for a multiparty system and free and fair elections in Transdniester.

OSCE Ambassador Hill noted that main sticking point between the two sides remains Tiraspol's refusal to accept being part of Moldova.

"You clearly need a clear acknowledgement from the left bank that Transdniester is a part of Moldova and that we are not talking about two separate states here," Hill said. "What we are talking about is a division of powers and the provision of adequate rights of local self-government to a region of a recognized state -- and finding acceptable agreement on this is crucial. The issue of democratization in Transdniester is also crucial."

The Yushchenko plan also proposes international monitoring of the Transdniester section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and of arms factories in the separatist region.