Tucked away in a far corner of Europe is one of the stranger places of the world - the self-recognized republic of Trans-Dniester. Actually a thin sliver of the former Soviet republic of Moldova, the territory of Trans-Dniester fought a brief war for independence in 1990. Trans-Dniester's claim of independence was never recognized by any other nations. A cease-fire has been in place since 1992.
Now Trans-Dniester and Moldova have again begun peace talks, something that has not happened since 2001. The leaders of both sides are hoping to build trust and improve security, though specific goals have not been outlined.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Trans-Dniester has retained many of the trappings of the Soviet Union. It maintains a local version of the KGB, while keeping the Soviet-era hammer and sickle emblem on its flag, passports and money. Its population is largely Russian, rather than Moldovian, one of the reasons why the region has sought its independence. The European Union has long been concerned over Trans-Dniester because of a thriving black market economy and a massive stockpile of Soviet-era munitions maintained at several military bases.
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