CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldova's Parliament has called on international partners negotiating a settlement with a breakaway republic to stop separatists from seizing territory in eastern Moldova.
Lawmakers adopted a statement late Friday urging the U.S., the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to "resolve the situation in Trans-Dniester through political and peaceful means, respecting democratic...principles."
Trans-Dniester, wedged between Moldova and Ukraine, is a narrow strip of land separated by from the rest of Moldova by the River Dniester. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940 when it was annexed to the Soviet Union, but Trans-Dniester was never part of Romania.
Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1990 because of fears that Moldova planned to reunite with neighboring Romania. A war broke out in 1992, leaving 1,500 dead. In 2005, the EU and the U.S. joined Ukraine and Russia as negotiators to seek a solution for the situation.
Last week separatist leader Yevgeny Shevchuk signed legislation that would expand the region to include eight Moldovan villages, saying he would do everything possible to make sure the legislation came into effect.
Moldovan Defense Minister Vitalie Marinuta said the army would respond to any attack on its territory, adding he did not think the situation would escalate into an armed conflict. Trans-Dniester is not recognized internationally but is supported by Russia.
Russia opposes Moldova signing an association agreement with the EU in November, and Moldovan analysts say Moscow is seeking to destabilize the situation in one of Europe's poorest countries.