I have to admit that I never quite realized just how advantageous it is for a country to be “not recognized” in this hyper interconnected New World Order.
For five long years, I lived in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, and that city is absolutely crawling with foreign diplomats, ambassadors, representatives, EU bureaucrats, United Nations agencies, and NGOs of every possible description.
Everyone and their brother has an agenda for Moldova, and the country is too poor and too disorganized to ever resist that influence. Every single time anything happens – no matter how small, even if it’s a one-year interim election for mayor, every last one of those fuckers has to stick their oar in.
The big countries like the United States, Britain, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, and Russia make their demands. The EU has its tentacles in every aspect of society, right down to how judges are selected. And the Moldovan economy is entirely dependent on foreign aid (especially from the IMF but also from the EU and Turkey) and required to follow international banking rules, including how to manage its own currency.
No matter who is the president – or the prime minister – or who wins the parliamentary elections in Moldova, there are thousands of powerful, influential, and wealthy foreigners all pushing and pulling, dictating and cajoling, bribing and persuading, and talking, talking, talking until the country’s leaders have almost no time left to do their job, which is to represent the people of Moldova.
Romania, of course, is the same, with the United States now in full control of every political party, the army, the navy, the air force, and all aspects of the economy. Vlad Tepes himself could rise from the grave and not escape the sticky strands of their entanglement.
And so it goes all around the globe. If you’re a “little” country, you’re constantly trying not to get swamped by the bigger players. There’s no hope whatsoever for true independence, only a modicum of autonomy. Even if you’re Switzerland or Luxembourg or Brunei or Singapore, you’re caught in the same web as everybody else.
Under the Radar
Of course, critics of Pridnestrovie always assert that the country is entirely under Russia’s thumb.
Generally speaking, there is some truth to that. Its borders are secure thanks to Russian peacekeepers. The economy is dependent on affordable natural gas from Russia. And supplementary pension payments, investments, and the occasional direct cash transfers from Russia help the government of PMR balance its books.
But think about this – there is no swarm of foreigners here, no embassy cocktail parties, no late-night “interlocutor” sessions, no multilateral business associations, no international trade groups, no multimillion dollar carrots being dangled to extract petroleum or other resources, no bribery, legal manipulations, or threats of force steering PMR government policy.
The country has no foreign debt. Who else can say that?
Pridnestrovie’s ministers and civil servants aren’t being brainwashed by foreign NGOs and “civil society” indoctrination programs. There are no military alliances. There are no purchases of insanely expensive armaments from foreign governments and no kickbacks.
There are no Fulbright scholarships or “leadership training” seminars, paid for and organized by foreigners. There are no think tanks siphoning off university graduates. PMR soldiers are not off in some foreign country, killing unarmed bystanders due to some grand alliance or complex multinational strategy.
And here is where it gets really weird. The government of PMR is, at the end of the day, only accountable to the citizenry.
There are no gated communities here or exclusive neighborhoods for the super rich to hide away in. The leaders of this country meet with ordinary citizens every single day. Ministers drive their own cars to and from work. And the last time the president went to Chisinau, he was driven around in a Skoda.
There is no “revolving door” between government positions and uber wealthy private corporations. There are no lobbyists. There is no way to steal millions and then run off to a private island – because there are no private islands in this country. The first president of PMR is seen in public all the time, and ordinary folks come up and talk to him. It’s no big deal. The country is too small to have elite clans. No matter who you are, somebody knows somebody else who knows you.
In some ways, it’s a bit like one of those really small towns in New England. It’s democracy in an old-fashioned way that just cannot be found on a national level anywhere else (with the possible exception of Somaliland). It’s street level and neighborhood level. The people that you see each day are the same people who make this country function, and the only thing that truly matters at the end of the day is what your neighbors, collectively, want.
And because PMR is largely “under” everyone’s radar, a minuscule country just 20 kilometers wide with no maritime ports, no international cargo hubs, and no airports, it appears on few people’s mental maps.
PMR is just a tiny slice of land nestled in the shadow of much more active neighbors, and so it is largely forgotten, overlooked, and discounted. It’s like one of those cities in Maine which has a number for a name, and the sheriff is also the mayor. You’d have to be pretty darn lost indeed to even find this place.
Haters Gonna Hate
Everyone who doesn’t live here is utterly convinced that Russia calls up the PMR president on a daily basis and tells him how many toothpicks to manufacture. The entire PMR government is supposed to be “deeply corrupt” and all decisions are made behind the scenes, in a smoke-filled room, by shadowy executives at the Sheriff corporation.
But I live here, and I’m telling you this is simply not true. I haven’t met the president yet, but I’ve met plenty of people who work in various aspects of the government, including a deputy minister, and they’re all just regular folks.
In fact, from my perspective, they’re horribly naive and completely unsophisticated. They have almost no idea what the outside world thinks, and they certainly don’t have any complex strategies to deal with the misinformation, propaganda, and the endless stream of fake news produced about this country on an hourly basis.
Most people in PMR don’t even realize that outsiders, any outsiders, even Moldovans in Chisinau, might consider PMR their “enemy.” Nobody here is nursing a burning grudge against anyone else, so it seems inconceivable to them that a person who has never been here might feel hostility towards them.
But I like that. I like the simplicity here. I like the naivete, if that’s the right word to use without sounding like I’m being critical. Because I’m not. I like the people here. And I like how non-recognition allows this country to be independent in a way that few other places on the planet are.
It’s not about PMR having a “perfect” government or “perfect” leaders – it’s about real democracy, where the will of the people actually fucking counts, and not just on Voting Day.
Pridnestrovie has a special kind of freedom that all the money in the world cannot buy. And I, for one, am incredibly grateful that I have had the chance to experience what that’s like.
One thought on “Thank God For Non-Recognition”
Fair enough. It sounds a bit like Mayberry. I live in Focsani and a lot of what I like is the intimacy such a removed place provides. Of course, we have a taste of the negatives you mention and the leadership is party-centric and seem to be rather a circle-jerk.
You do understandably focus on the politics, but what about the cultural aspects? The nightlife. The sports. The theatre and concerts. The festivals. Just wondering.