President: Transdniester deserves independence more than Kosovo
Transdniestria's democratically elected president Igor Smirnov said on Thursday that his republic has better grounds for independence than Kosovo, news agency RIA Novosti reported.
" - For us, the Kosovo precedent is an important factor, but not the only key factor. Historical and legal factors, and reality itself suggest that we have more right to independence," Smirnov told a news conference, adding that the republic complied with all requirements for sovereign statehood under international law. Transdniestria will maintain its claim to sovereignty regardless of what happens in Kosovo.
The Transdniestrian president also said that the international community should develop universal rules and principles for conflict settlement if it wanted to ensure safety, stability and certainty.
" - It is time Moldova realized this. Then more progress would be achieved on many issues," Smirnov said in direct reference to the refusal by Moldova to recognize Transdniestria's right to self-determination.
The failed state of Moldova, Europe's poorest country, is currently under the rule of a Communist government headed by former Soviet general Vladimir Voronin. Its regime refuses to give the people of Transdniestria the right to a free and democratic vote on its own future.
In advocating independence for his people, Transdniestria's Igor Smirnov is taking a stand for democracy. Transdniestria voted in 2006 for independence in a free and fair election where 94% preferred sovereign statehood rather than subjugation to Moldovan rule. Voters cast their ballots for the right to self-determination, and "we must respect the will of the voters" said Igor Smirnov shortly after the pro-freedom result.
In 1991, Igor Smirnov spent time as a political prisoner when he was arrested and transferred to Moldova for his leadership role in Transdniestria's independence declaration one year earlier. He was released after massive protests by the Transdniestrian people, and received a hero's welcome upon his return to Tiraspol, the capital of Transdniestria.
Igor Smirnov is the son of an activist who was jailed for "crimes against the state" under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Unlike Moldova, Transdniestria has a majority Slavic population and Russian is the most widely spoken language. On 2 September 1990, during the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Transdniestria (officially Pridnestrovie) proclaimed its independence from what was then the Moldavian SSR inside the Soviet Union. Nearly one year later, on 27 August 1991, Moldova itself declared independence. The current Republic of Moldova has never included Transdniestria since it was founded, and Transdniestria was also never part of any independent Moldovan state at any time in the past.