Russia drew the attention of Moldova’s authorities to the need to abandon discriminatory actions against Russian-language mass media, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday at a news conference on the results of the negotiations with Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicolae Popescu.
"We agreed to take measures to abandon violations of visa-free travel and the use of banning and restrictive measures against the citizens of our countries. We pointed out the need to ensure journalists’ rights, the freedom of professional activity and prevention of discriminative policy against the media. Moldova’s previous government carried out such actions against Russian-language mass media," TASS quoted him as saying.
Moldova’s authorities repeatedly rejected entry to the country for Russian performers, political experts, public figures and journalists, including those from NTV, REN TV and other mass media. In light of this, the Russian Foreign Ministry handed a note of protest to Moldovan Ambassador to Russia Andrei Neguta.
Russia hopes that the Moldovan authorities will not permit artificial restrictions on the use of the Russian language, Sergey Lavrov stated at the news conference on Wednesday.
"We raised the issue of the need for taking measures to preserve the status of the Russian language in Moldova. Our counterparts took this into consideration. I hope that this will allow for preventing artificial reduction of the space for the Russian speakers and Russians in Moldova," he said.
The issue of language is very sensitive in Moldova. In 1989, the people of Transnistria and Gagauzia demanded legalizing Russian as a second official language, which was used by nearly 90% of the country’s population and was the main one for one in three residents. That controversy resulted in a conflict in Gagauzia and war in Transnistria and caused a split in the country.
Support for Moldova's policy
Russia has reaffirmed its support of Moldova’s non-aligned status and the efforts of Moldovan officials to maintain political stability, the Russian foreign minister said on the outcomes of the talks with his Moldovan counterpart.
"We have reaffirmed our Moldovan colleagues that Russia’s priority in bilateral relations is the support of the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, its non-aligned status, the support of the national government’s efforts on ensuring stability in domestic policy and reinforcing inter-ethnic trust. In these conditions, we can develop and strengthen multifaceted Russian-Moldovan relations with maximum efficiency based on pragmatism and mutual benefit," Lavrov said.
Russia welcomes Moldova’s stance to step up dialogue and expresses willingness to resolve the outstanding issues on the basis of the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between the countries, Sergey Lavrov told the news conference on Wednesday.
"We had great business-like talks, we share an opinion that the latest internal political processes in Moldova open up possibilities to step up the bilateral relations. Mr. Popescu underlined that the republic’s new government is interested in advancing cooperation with Russia," Lavrov said. "We welcome this attitude and are willing to reciprocate, ready to find ways to resolve the issues that have accumulated."
According to the Russian minister, Moscow is willing to sort out these issues "based on great groundwork." "I mean the 2001 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation which is still very much relevant," Lavrov explained.