My birthday will be on 6 July. Strictly mathematically speaking, I will turn 40 then.
Searching for a way to postpone this event or to prevent it altogether, an ingenious solution came to my mind, thanks to my legal education, my specialization in international public law and my creativity: The 40th anniversary of my date of birth will be legally irrelevant if it will occur in a state that isn’t recognized by anyone in the world. This is the legal equivalent to the biological solution of freezing (now you understand why we talk of “frozen conflicts”).
From my current residence in Romania, it’s not even that far to the next unrecognized state. It only takes a high-speed train journey through the Republic of Moldova, and I will be in the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, also known as Transnistria outside of the country.
Very brief and simplified: When the Soviet Union was in its final stages in 1990, Transnistria declared its independence from Moldova, one of the former Soviet Republics, with the goal of becoming a Soviet Republic of its own within the USSR. In August 1991 the Soviet Union’s break-up could no longer be halted. Moldova declared its independence from the Soviet Union, Transnistria declared its independence from both. With the support of Romania, the Moldovan military tried to conquer Transnistria in 1992. Because the border between both territories runs pretty much along the Dnestr river (which gives its name to the secessionist part), Transnistria was relatively easy to defend. After 5 months of war and about 1,000 dead there was a ceasefire; the border hadn’t really changed much.
And that’s how it remains, even 23 years later. Moldova doesn’t officially recognize Transnistria’s independence, but makes no attempts to conquer it militarily. Transnistria is in actuality independent, with all the characteristics of a state. In 2014 the territory applied to become part of Russia, but hasn’t received an answer yet. Russian troops would already be in the country, practically or threateningly – depending on your point of view – on the Western border of Ukraine, because they somehow forgot to withdraw after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Since then Transnistria is known as the state that most resembles the Soviet Union. Hammer and sickle adorn the flag, the intelligence service is still called KGB, and when my host from Tiraspol e-mailed me, he welcomed me with “Hello comrade”. His house is on Lenin Street, corner of Karl Marx Street. Am I about to time-travel to the past?
After a few days in Transnistria, I will of course also explore Moldova, mainly in the capital city Chișinău. The country seems to be rather split between those who strive towards Europe (either through unification with Romania or accession to the EU) and those who seek closer ties with Russia. Best conditions then for interesting talks and new insights.
If the trick to prevent getting older works, I will develop a business idea based on this and start offering such tours to you.