Open Letter to the President of Pridnestrovia
Dear President Krasnoselsky,
I am a British citizen who has come to Pridnestrovia as part of a tour around Eastern Europe during the Russia-Ukraine war, at a time when hostilities have been underway for approximately one month. Ukraine is one of Pridnestrovia's two neighbours, the other being Moldova, and I have come to Pridnestrovia to explore the effect that the war in Ukraine has been having upon the Bessarabian region more broadly. I am familiar with South Ukraine, in particular the cities of Odessa, Nikolaev and Kherson, and I am interested in what will happen to those cities in the Ukrainian conflict and how this will affect all of Pridnestrovia, Moldova and Budzhak.
Pridnestrovia is not recognised by Her Majesty's Government as an independent state and the United Kingdom has no diplomatic representation in Pridnestrovia. Therefore I want to express my gratitude for the warmth you, your government and your people have shown to me in permitting me to visit and allowing me to travel round Pridnestrovia freely and without hindrance. I have a number of observations I would like to make about Pridnestrovia, and I am grateful for having the opportunity to be able to make them.
I realise you are trying to create a Monaco of Eastern Europe in Tiraspol. I have seen your investments in banks, consumer products, nightlife and hotels quite sufficiently to understand your intentions. And frankly I wish you the best of luck.
1. I came to visit Pridnestrovia previously, under the government of your predecessor Igor Smirnov. Since that period, Transnistria has seen remarkable development and it is apparent that this is principally due to your tenure. In my assessment, you have taken Tiraspol's natural commercial opportunities - the transit of gas and energy-based financing associated with it - and developed that into the financial basis for the entire economy.
2. I am particularly impressed with the Tiraspoltransgas commercial model, and the widespread banking facilities that this sort of commercial success has allowed to develop in the capital.
3. Off the back of these commercial successes, you seek to develop Pridnestrovia as an international sporting destination, and you have invested (and continue to invest) very substantial quantities of capital into that project.
4. You realise that you are short of hotel rooms, a problem that will limit further economic growth if Tiraspol is to seek to develop further as a financial, commodities and sporting economic centre. You rightly invest in hotel and other construction projects to improve Pridnestrovia's infrastructure during a period of relative quiet as travel, tourism and commerce are all deterred when you are so close to the proximate conflict in Ukraine. It goes without saying that it is in Pridnestrovia's interests that this conflict be resolved as quickly as possible, as no economy, irrespective of how sound its base, can survive an indefinite quiet period of the kind associated with war in the territory of a neighbour.
5. I am impressed with the gradualist model of opening a post-Soviet economy: rather than permit the state assets previously held in the public trust to be sold off in crooked auctions, as happened in much of the former Soviet Union, Pridnestrovia, mainly through the advantage of being able to take its time, has moved away from communism and towards a market economy using a corporate state model, in which a handful of corporate entities manage several sectors between them.
6. You have wisely ensured that an adequate proportion of Pridnestrovia's incoming wealth from her economic activities be apportioned to the consumer sector, including restaurants, bars, entertainment, electronics and household improvements, thereby providing your population with a sense of gradual but inevitable economic progress and increase in their standards of living.
7. Indeed if I were to identify one economic problem Pridnestrovia is burdened with that is distinct and notable, I would identify that problem as full employment. Your workforce is basically fully occupied. This in itself limits further economic development, because you need more people in order to invest in and work upon more projects.
8. Pridnestrovia had suffered from some depopulation during the period prior to your Presidency; although I have not seen the contemporary statistics I doubt that the depopulation will be reversed by the return of people who left. That tends not to happen; once people leave a place for economic reasons, they do not return. Therefore if you are looking to expand your population in order to expand your workforce, you might see crisis movements of people from your neighbour as an opportunity to attract them to a superior life. Life in Pridnestrovia is undoubtedly superior to that in southern Ukraine, and people ought to be attracted to it. Of course you want to make sure that the most educated and experienced professionals are amongst those who take up an offer of residence here, out of all the columns of refugees that have and will continue to pass so close to Pridnestrovia as they seek to depart Ukraine for a better life.
9. The majority of those people will end up in territories substantially less well off than Pridnestrovia on a per capita basis, including Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania. The best of the people transiting from Ukraine and through the region might be of interest to Pridnestrovia, and you might wish to think how to attract their attentions.
10. There is a package of civil liberties developments you could easily enact to meet European Union stated standards, that would buy you a substantial quantity of good will with Berlin, Brussels and London and without costing you much. Your regulations relating to homosexuality, Romanian language schools and the right to demonstrate are three examples. You have little to lose from permitting pluralism; you are popular.
11. Your police and security forces, already very professional for such a small and isolated territory, could undertake joint training with EU accession officials. You can do this without applying for EU membership: just as a show of good will.
12. You should advertise your territory as a growing centre for rule of law in disputes relating to banking and energy disputes. Your courts are a reasonably good start.
13. Be more open about your electoral processes. You are going to win the elections even with foreign observers; you are popular. Moreover you run elections (and courts) better than your Moldovan counterparts.
14. Publish a full map of the contested territory, in agreement with your Moldovan counterparts (or at least initiate this process).
15. Draw red lines: no net contributions to the state Moldovan budget save in specific areas agreed in advance such as joint refugee assistance.
16. Abolish the Pridnestrovian ruble and adopt the Euro as your official currency. This can be part of a process of normalisation with the European Union. Your fiscal policy is strong enough that you can do this without cost. You will sweep the carpet away from under the Moldovans' feet if you do this.
17. Invest more in education. Create a Pridnestrovia in which, like Monaco or Luxembourg, everyone speaks at least three major languages (Russian, English and French).
18. You need to get your airport working. Start with one Turkish Airlines flight a week to Istanbul. Undercut the prices of Chisinau airport, taking advantage of its closure. Invest in an international terminal. Like Monaco, invest in a heliport for the wealthy to use in short hops from Chisinau and Odessa.
19. Introduce a flexible immigration scheme for the wealthy, offering residence permits and golden passport schemes.
20. Build luxury apartments as well as hotels. As Pridnestrovia becomes more popular, people will want to stay for longer.
21. Work hard to grow your restaurants and nightlife. Invite foreign restaurant chains; the food needs substantial improvement. Invite a prestigious nightclub chain such as Pacha to town. Invite the trendy DJ's to play at Pridnestrovia's nightclubs. Make it easy for people to come to see them. Create a network of international buses or other cheap transport for young people to visit. If you bring young people, those people will one day get wealthy and come back with their money.
22. Leave your formal dispute with Moldova on ice, with the discreet support of Moscow; but invite informal diplomatic missions, such as Honorary Consuls, to town in exchange for purely formal concessions. My country currently advises against all travel to Pridnestrovia. Reverse that policy with a bit of delicate diplomacy.
23. Pridnestrovia is cool. Market and brand it internationally as a cool place, with the assistance of the best international public relations agents that are expensive but that you can afford to retain.
24. Tell the world how successful you are. Show the world your accounts. Broadcast to the world your eccentric Soviet buildings and your fascinating historical cultural heritage. Add signs for tourists. Encourage services like Showaround, in which young Pridnestrovians introduce foreigners to their land. Invite some influencers - wealthy famous foreigners, particularly in the sports field - to advertise Pridnestovia for you.
25. As you grow, keep peace with, and encourage the best relations with, all your neighbours.
26. Do not forget the ordinary people of Pridnestrovia. Continue to give them jobs and To show them the benefits of the distribution of wealth.
You have a virtually unprecedented opportunity to present Pridnestrovia to the world as an impeccable balance between Europe's East and West. Take it!
Very truly yours,