Minister Colonna, Minister Asselborn, Minister Cassis,
Dear colleagues who have travelled to our capital and those of you who are based here,
Dear friends who stand with us,
It is a great pleasure to see so many of you today in Chisinau.
Thank you for all that you are doing for Moldova to keep going and keep getting stronger. The challenges show no sign of diminishing although we are now much more prepared and much better at navigating them.
Moldova values your support. Moldovans value your support.
We see the help that you give us as the deepest show of your solidarity, and proof that we are part of one European family.
Just as important as the money and technical support that you offer is the sense that you are there for us as we tackle adversity.
In particular, I would like to give my thanks, on behalf of all Moldovans, to Romania, Germany and France for championing the Moldova Support Platform in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
The MSP brought together all of our friends just when we needed immediate relief. It helped us in so many ways.
It helped us maintain peace, stability and social cohesion as the war was raging next door.
It helped us address the humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees arrived. Our welcome earned us recognition as a small country with a big heart.
It helped us get through a difficult winter, keep the lights and heat on, and protect the vulnerable from high energy prices, while Russia used gas as a weapon against us.
It helped us keep our economy functioning.
And very importantly, it helped us stay focussed on reforms and EU accession. So, many, many thanks.
We have a word in Romanian – clacă. It’s an old tradition in our country – when neighbours or friends come together to help one another with labour intensive tasks like harvesting a crop or building a house. It is a process where community spirit is much in evidence. The way you came together for us was exactly that – clacă.
This 4th Ministerial Conference of the Moldova Support Platform has heard much during the day about our plans to recover the economy, mitigate the negative impact of the war next door and prepare for EU accession.
I also want to tell you that, while the challenges remain serious, our resilience continues to strengthen. In many ways, we are in a better position than when we last met in Paris almost a year ago.
We are more prepared for this winter. Russia’s energy blackmail failed. Our infrastructure is equipped to receive gas from various sources, we have back-up storage, and a system to ease the burden of high energy prices for the vulnerable. We are building new electricity lines with Romania and setting ambitious goals for investment in renewables.
Russia’s brutal, unprovoked war, which it unleashed on Ukraine, has damaged our economy. While our hearts bleed for the terrible suffering of our Ukrainian neighbours, Moldova is paying a price too – not in lost human lives but in lost progress. Inflation, which peaked at almost 35% last year, is down to below ten percent. It is still too high and too painful for our struggling citizens, but it is moving in the right direction.
The credit ratings agency, Moody’s, has upgraded our economic outlook from negative to stable. Fresh financing is available for small and medium-sized enterprises.
We are cutting the red tape and seeking new markets for our private sector. More and more of our exports go to the EU and thanks to the free trade agreement with the EFTA countries, our companies are set for new trade opportunities.
We are building up defences, investing in cyber security, and learning to counter disinformation. Today we are much more agile in fending off hybrid attacks. I am grateful to those of you who are contributing to these endeavours.
Moldova is also strengthening its democratic and social resilience. We carry on reforming the justice system and making efforts to defeat corruption. Part of this effort has enabled us to reduce the malign interference of oligarchs – many of them Russian proxies.
On corruption perception, measured by Transparency International, we improved by 24 places in the past two years, our best score in a decade. On the Rule of Law Index, part of the World Justice Project, we have advanced by 14 places since 2020.
Each of those successes means a stronger Moldova and gives us hope. But we are not complacent about these gains. We know they will be under attack again in our local elections next month. Russia and its proxies are trying to use illegal money, smuggled into our country illegally, to illegally buy votes, bribe citizens and corrupt our democracy.
We will be fighting back. We are fighting back.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While we are more resilient, we are still not in a position to overcome the challenges alone.
As we are moving away from the need for immediate relief, we are focusing on long term goals.
You have heard today about our plans to invest in major infrastructure projects and boost residential energy efficiency, among others.
New roads and railways will take our citizens and produce to the EU and will also serve as Solidarity Lanes to take out Ukrainian grain and other goods, through Moldova. One day they will also support the reconstruction of Ukraine.
Residential energy efficiency in practical terms means that households will consume less energy and will pay less in bills. It is a significant step towards improving energy security and will enable us to accelerate our green transition.
Both endeavours aim to Russia-proof our economy and integrate Moldova deeper with the European Union.
For the past year and a half, as a candidate country for EU accession, we have been working hard to implement reforms outlined by the European Commission. This December, in Brussels, we hope the European Council will decide to open accession negotiations with us. We aim to be ready to join the European Union by 2030. We hope the EU will be ready to welcome us too.
I am never tired of saying: Moldova’s EU membership is not just a political choice, it is the only way to protect our liberty, peace and democracy. But it is also an investment in Europe’s collective security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Moldova might be a small country, but we are growing our role as a contributor to regional security.
About a week ago I set out my vision for ensuring Moldova’s national security. It includes a commitment to strengthening democracy and to building a prosperous European country, as well as ensuring that all citizens —and our economy—are protected by a modern security sector.
We are acutely aware of the concerns among investors over our proximity to Russia’s war, but I want to emphasise that Moldova is not standing idly by. We are working on our security agenda, in cooperation with our strategic partners.
Our aim is clear: to safeguard Moldova, protect all people living in Moldova, protect our democracy, our economy, our infrastructure, ensure the safety of local and foreign investments.
We understand the gravity of the challenges that lie ahead, but we are resolute in our determination to overcome them—together with you.
We still believe in the tradition of clacă —everybody coming together to help a neighbour.
We won’t weaken our resolve and we know you won’t either.
Doamnelor și domnilor,
Platforma de sprijin pentru Moldova, organizată în acest an la Chișinău, vine cu un îndemn ferm pentru țările puternice și libere ale lumii să creadă în puterea noastră de a ne dezvolta, să ne sprijine în acest demers, să investească aici și să participe la transformarea Moldovei și la conectarea noastră deplină la Uniunea Europeană.
Cu ajutorul prietenilor Moldovei, am reușit lucruri care păreau irealizabile cu câțiva ani în urmă:
instituțiile noastre sunt pregătite să asigure ordinea și securitatea în țară,
cumpărăm gaze naturale din mai multe surse și nu mai permitem să fim șantajați prin intermediul resurselor energetice,
alocăm bani pentru cei mai vulnerabili,
sprijinim deschiderea afacerilor, modernizăm cu pași rapizi rețeaua rutieră și avem planuri mari, bine puse la punct, pe care le-ați auzit astăzi.
Planul nostru este să păstrăm pacea acasă, să asigurăm condiții de viață europene în localitățile noastre, să avem drumuri moderne în toată țara, cale ferată europeană, poduri care să ne conecteze la România și Uniunea Europeană.
Vrem ca lumea întreagă să știe - Moldova este o țară sigură, liberă să-și decidă viitorul, care înțelege gravitatea provocărilor ce ne stau în față și știe cum să le depășească în beneficiul cetățenilor săi.
Sprijinul mare primit în ultimii ani ne arată nu doar că moldovenii sunt europeni și merită să fie parte a Uniunii Europene, ci că suntem și bineveniți. Le-am vorbit azi partenerilor noștri cu mândrie despre obiceiul care definește neamul nostru - claca.
Noi știm, încă din bătrâni, că nimeni de unul singur nu reușește să facă lucruri mărețe. Noi credem în puterea comunității și ceea ce vrem să creăm acum împreună cu Uniunea Europeană este o comunitate care va construi și va dezvolta Moldova, ca într-o mare clacă.
Mulțumesc. Thank you.