The Dniestr/Nistru River has long been an artery both uniting and dividing the north-western part of the wider Black Sea region. As early as 5700 BC the river marked the transition between the Pontic Steppe and the farmlands of Old Europe. Ancient fortresses, some dating back to the Bronze Age, show the continuing importance of the river in history. The Ottoman Empire constructed the largest of these, in Bender (the old Turkish word for port), in the 1530s, and for three years in the early 1700s King Charles XII of Sweden ruled his empire from the Bender Fortress.
The OSCE Mission to Moldova strives to turn what has been a dividing line of conflict into a thoroughfare of confidence and trust. The mission has brought together people from both banks of the Dniestr/Nistru to challenge hostile stereotypes and build mutual understanding and friendship.