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A federalisation plan for the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, Part #3


In our first and second articles on this subject, we have set out the political elements for a reconciliation between the Republic of Moldova and the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic. This essay assumes the reader's familiarity with these two prior essays, plus the additional materials we have published about this subject that are linked to in our earlier two articles referenced above.


Now we set out the legal details. Because federalisation is a lawyers' job.


  1. There are two documents we have to reconcile to achieve our objective. One is the constitution of the Republic of Moldova, which appears here: https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Moldova_2016?lang=en. The other is the constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, which appears here: https://mid.gospmr.org/en/constitution#:~:text=The%20Constitution%20of%20the%20Pridnestrovian%20Moldavian%20Republic%20is%20of%20highest,of%20the%20Pridnestrovian%20Moldavian%20Republic.

  2. The former document is drafted by German jurists. The latter is drafted by US jurists. This is obvious from the styles. The former reads like Germany's Grundgesetz (founding law); the latter reads like the US (or even New York) constitution.

  3. To establish modes of cooperation between Chisinau and Tiraspol is a lawyer's job, not a soldier's one. There is no desire between Chisinau and Tiraspol to spill blood. Everything can be worked out by negotiations and agreement.

  4. Nothing in the constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic says that it is a separate country from Moldova. So the constitution of the PMR does not actually need to be changed. This is a major advantage to begin negotiations.

  5. Article 1(1) of the PMR Constitution says 'The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is a sovereign, independent, democratic, legal state'. But it does not say that is is a separate legal state from the Republic of Moldova. What Article 1(1) does is to assert the PMR's sovereignty. But many entities that are connected to or related with other states have the rexognised right to assert their sovereignty (i.e. their right to govern themselves); and this is consistent with their having legal relations with states recognised by the United Nations. The most obvious example is the 50 states comprising the United States, all of whom in different ways assert their sovereignty.

  6. Another example is the United States of Mexico, which fits the same conceptual logic impeccably.

  7. In short, lots of UN members have more than one sovereign within their borders. Moldova has three: Chisinau, Gagauzia and the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic.

  8. All they need to do is to agree on arrangements to share their sovereignty in sophisticated ways that work to their mutual benefit.

  9. The good news is that the constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic is a fine document, setting out an admirable regime for the distribution of powers and for the protection of fundamental human rights.

  10. Wo don't think the constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic needs to be changed at all in order that a mutually satisfactory federalisation arrangement be reached with Chisinau and Gagauzia, as a three-way arrangement.

  11. Moreover neither does the constitution of the Republic of Moldova. That is because its drafters expressly anticipated peaceful federalisation of sovereign entities with Chisinau.

  12. Article 110(2) of the constitution of the Republic of Moldova provides: "Places on the left bank of the Dniester river may be assigned special forms and conditions of autonomy according to the special statutory provisions adopted by organic law."

  13. In non-lawyers' language, this means that any federalisation arrangement with the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic may be recognised as consistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova.

  14. Therefore we have huge flexibility in tailor-making a constitutional settlement between Chisinau and Tiraspol. Here is what we propose.

  15. In a subconatitutional agreement, or 'organic law' as the Moldovan jurists would call it, a number of matters are to be regulated.

  16. The first, easiest and most important, is abolition of the trite and wasteful borders. They achieve nothing save a sense of differentiation and paranoia.

  17. Gas supplies should be regulated in some generic language. It is a sensitive issue and not appropriate for legal detail.

  18. The Pridnestrovian ruble should be formally recognised, using delicate diplomatic-legal language. Each currency should be legal tender in the other jurisdiction.

  19. Pridnestrovia should be encouraged to beef up its banking regulation, in coordination with (not dictate from) the relevant Moldovan regulators.

  20. The same is true of Pridnestrovian government spending; the PMR should be encouraged to establish a 'Court of Auditors' (one EU standard model for this type of regulation of government expenditure) that cooperates with, but does not (initially) take instructions from, the Court of Auditors in Chisinau.

  21. The right of the PMR to conduct its own tax affairs should be recognised in generic language.

  22. The formal participation of the PMR in international organisations should be recognised in initially generic language.

  23. An agreement on mobile telephony and internet connections should be made, to prevail over the absurdity that each territory has its own mobile telephony arrangements.

  24. Provision should be made for mutual recognition of official documents issued by each jurisdiction in the other, subject to common standards (such as passports and driving licences).

  25. The use of the Russian ruble in western Tiraspol should be agreed to be phased out over a period of say six months. Russian businesses such as doctors, notaries etcetera will be allowed to remain in Tiraspol pursuant to Pridnestrovian regulatory legislation but they must charge in Pridnestrovian rubles (that will remain fully exchangeable against the Russian ruble in banks).

  26. Cooperation between police and internal security forces should be formally recognised, in particular to bring in the Pridnestrovian KGB from the cold of international law enforcement cooperation.

  27. The Shevchenko Transnistria State University should be placed upon a statutory footing by the Parliament or the Republic of Moldova.

  28. Pridnestrovia should adopt a policy that its legal system and court hearings are transparent and open to the public.

  29. An action plan between the two jurisdictions will make provision for the proper development of Tiraspol airport as a secondary commercial hub (without military use).

  30. Chisinau and Tiraspol airspace should be subject to a common air traffic control jurisdiction (surely that in Chisinau International Airport; there is no other in either territory).

  31. Pridnestrovia should relax its regime of regulatimg the use of private property for tourist or commercial purposes, and share a common hotel rating system with the Republic of Moldova.

  32. The PMR should agree to fly the Moldovan flag adjacently to its own flag on public buildings wherever it is habitual for the national flag to be flown. Moldova should agree to fly the Pridnestrovian flag on certain appropriate buildings adjacent to the Moldovan flag.

  33. An internationally financed project for the restoration of Tiraspol beach should be supported by both parties.

  34. All Russian government employees and military staff members based in Pridnestrovia wil be given a grace period of six months within which to apply for Moldovan citizenship (which will be automatically gra.ted) or to leave peacefully for the territory of the Russian Federation.

  35. Rights of 'hot pursuit' by each jurisdiction"s police forces into the territory of the other, where criminals are at risk of getting away just by crossing a frontier, should be mutually agreed. So should exchange of intelligence and security information relating to common threats; and a scheme of expedites extradition from each jurisdiction to the other should be established. In time paired police officials (one Moldovan, one PMR) should be arranged to combat common legal and security threats in porous frontier regions such as around Bender.

  36. The two ports (Giurgiulesti and Bilhorod-Dnystrovski) should be mutually recognised with arrangements for their sharing and common participation. It does not matter what the Ukrainians think about this. We just need to get something down in writing.

  37. An agreement should be reached upon duty free arrangements between Tiraspol and Chisinau. It is prepsterous that there are theoretical taxes between the two, particularly given that nobody pays them (smuggling is endemic).

  38. Provision should be made for representation of the peoples of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic in the parliamentary system of the Republic of Moldova, with the xonsequent right to vote of Pridnestrovian citizens in Moldovan elections (something they have already, because the greater majority of them hold Moldovan passports as well as Pridnestrovian passports).

  39. A generic formulation should be included for international oversight of national Moldovan elections in the PMR forthwith; and oversight of PMR domestic elections to follow in due course.

  40. Provision should be made for the sale of any newspaper or television channel freely circulating in one jurisdiction, to circulate freely in the other. This way, the various citizens of the two jurisdictions will be able to choose what they read and watch.

  41. Express provision should be made that Pridnestrovians can hold other nationalities than Moldovan. (They all do, anyway, so there is no harm in recognising an irreversible reality.)

  42. An agreement should be reached on what to do with Pridnestrovian passports, currently a redundant item because nobody recognises them except Pridnestrovia. They should be subsumes as a class of Moldovan passports, with close cooperation between the two passport offices.

  43. An agreement should be reached that in due course the PMR may agree to subject itself to the jurisdiction of the Moldovan Constitutional Court, once it is satisfied that its interests are represented in the court's composition; otherwise all Pridnestrovian judicial institutions can remain in place.

  44. Russian must be given greater formal standing as a language in the Moldovan Constitution. This is the price of perpetual peace.

  45. Pridnestrovia must strip out some of its criminal legislation that falls below European standards, such as the criminalisation of homosexuality or the availability of the death penalty. Pridnestrovia needs stronger anti-discrimination laws.

  46. The borders between Pridnestrovia and Ukraine should be jointly managed by Pridnestrovian and Moldovan customs and immigration officers, working in pairs (one from each side), to secure the integrity of the border with Ukraine which may remain highly unstable if the war in Ukraine is to continue for an extended period. Once the war in Ukraine does come to an end, it is in Chisinau's and Tiraspol's joint interests that a robust common position be taken with the Ukrainian authorities about the operation of and check upon the border (i.e. suppressing corruption and capricious behaviour on the Ukrainian side).

  47. Where international or domestic sanctions are adopted by the lawful authorities of the Republic of Moldova, those sanctions will come into force in the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic upon a vote of the latter's National Assembly; provided that if after a period of 30 days there has been no such vote, then those sanctions will utomaticslly have the force of law in the PMR save where, prior to the expiry of the 30-day period,a vote of not less than two thirds of the latter's National Assembly declares those sanctions measures not to be in the vital national interests of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic.

  48. Future agreements may be reached between Chisinau and Tiraspol on further steps towards political and economic integration; but we should not push too hard initially to determine what they are. When will Sheriff supermarkets in Pridnestrovia be able to open branches in the rest of Moldova? We don't know; but not quite yet. A commercial level playing field must be established first.Bit that is the work of technical committees, who can be properly tasked after the agreement is executed.

  49. EU regionalism funds should be made available contingent upon a Chisinau-Tirasppl agreement to improve Pridneestrovia's defunct infrastructure, in particular highway construction (most PMR roads still have cracks or craters in them from the passage of tanks during the 1992 conflict) and also in the form of water factories. The tap water in Tiraspol stinks and is undrinkable These things are easy to rectify in so small a territorial unit.

  50. Debates over borders will not be entertained, given that we are abolishing border posts and correlative excise duties. The issue can just evaporate gradually.

  51. Full respect will be afforded to national memorials and objects of cultural interest in each jurisdiction.

  52. A committee will be agreed to be formed that ever further integrates Pridnestrovian sporting institutions (including but by no means exclusively FC Sheriff Tiraspol) into the Moldovan national network. After all, Sheriff Tiraspol has the finest stadium in the entire region. It should be exploited to the full through cooperation with Chisinau and abroad, not left to stand fallow as is its current fate.

  53. The Pridnestrovian Armed Forces will be permitted to remain as a domestic national guard organisation, provided that their movements are confined to the territory of the PMR. The security forces of the Republic of Moldova will not enter the PMR save pursuant to mutually agreed principles and instances of 'hot pursuit', discussed above.

  54. A protocol should be agreed for discussions between the parties leading to an agreement upon the establishment of a jointly owned and managed sovereign wealth fund that invests conservatively and exists to assist the three jurisdictions in the Republic of Moldova in times of economic stress or domestic or international crisis it wil be agreed that the fund may not be used to invest in any of Moldova's neighbours or contrary to international sanctions; and hence that its investment parameters are truly independent

  55. All negotiated agreements reached upon the foregoing issues should be recorded in materially (if not formally) identical laws of both the Republic of Moldova and the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic. Because their legal traditions are so different (Moldova Germanic; Pridnestrovia American-Russian), an exercise in reconciliation of the two drafts will need to be undertaken with the assistance of international juristis experienced in constitutional comparative law.


We have aimed to sketch the principal tenets of a permanent peace agreement between Chisinau and Tiraspol. Of course a great amount of the devil lies in the details. Not all our proposals may survive; other proposals may be introduced; some of our proposals may end up being driven in a different way. The important point, if a deal is to last, is that the domestic actors feel they have ownership of the process; and that the international community role is kept modest and constructive, gently mediating the parties to come together to find constructive solutions to their actual problems in these economically difficult times.


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