Dear President Emmanuel Macron,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends of Moldova,
I am happy to greet you in Paris today, at the third reunion of the Moldova Support Platform. This platform was launched by France, Germany, and Romania, and was joined by many other countries and organizations to help Moldova through a difficult time.
The first two editions, in Berlin and Bucharest, came at a time when Moldova was facing a massive influx of Ukrainian refugees, energy insecurity, economic and social challenges brought by Russia’s unjust war.
We are immensely grateful for your solidarity and the important pledges of support. Through joint efforts, the government was able to maintain peace and stability, continue reforms, advance on our road to the European Union, strengthen our energy resilience, help the most vulnerable, and improve border security.
Along with Ukraine, Moldova is now connected to the European electricity network and we are making progress on building a new electricity connection to Romania. We set up our first gas reserves, significantly cut down our energy consumption - only in October we reduced our consumption of natural gas by 38% and electricity by 16%. We are also working to facilitate renewable energy projects and increase investments in energy efficiency.
We managed to stay on track in difficult circumstances, but the road ahead remains very dangerous. For Ukraine. For Europe. And for us - in Moldova.
We face a dramatic energy crisis, a shrinking economy and extremely high inflation of 35%, a level we haven’t seen since 1999. All these factors drastically hurt households and businesses; our GDP will be 8% smaller than pre-war forecasts.
We are bracing for a harsh winter ahead.
Last month, Russian missiles crossed our airspace. Missile debris fell on our land endangering our people and our peace. Meanwhile, our democracy is under attack by corrupt criminal groups backed by Russia. We are facing a hybrid war on Moldova that seeks to divert us from reforms and European integration.
Moldova also faces an acute energy crisis. The war is endangering the supply of electricity and gas. We are not certain we can find enough volumes to heat and light our homes. And even if we do - the prices are unaffordable for our people and economy. This could jeopardize our social peace and security. I know everyone in Europe pays a very high price for energy. But these same prices have a much more ruinous impact on our country and people.
Just in the past year, the cost of natural gas went up 7 times and the cost of electricity increased 4 times. Many Moldovans will be unable to pay their bills this winter if the government doesn’t step in.
I want to thank our partners and friends who have already pledged their support to help us manage our multiple crises. This winter, we have to spend more on targeted compensations for domestic consumers, to alleviate the shock of high energy prices for those most vulnerable. Similarly, anti-crisis measures to support businesses have been put in place. Your important help will be vital in the coming months.
Amidst these challenges, we continue with our reforms in the justice, economy, security, public administration and social sectors. In the past year, Moldova improved its democracy score and media freedom performance. As an EU candidate country, we are preparing for EU accession talks, and working on the European Commission's recommendations. We’ve exported more goods to the EU than ever before. We are deepening our integration with the EU in the energy sphere, and we are doing our utmost to accelerate our transition to greener energy. We have launched pre-vetting in the justice sector, and a U.S. trained Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor is now spearheading our efforts to bring criminals to justice.
However, Moldova remains Ukraine’s most vulnerable neighbor. As Ukraine defends itself from Russian attacks, it also defends Moldova. It defends the whole of Europe. We stand with Ukraine and are thankful to its people for their bravery and sacrifice.
The international community must do everything to support Ukraine. We must make sure that Ukrainians can resist the barbaric attacks and destruction, and they have a fighting chance against a ruthless and relentless enemy.
Moldova is at the forefront of emerging threats for the EU as a result of the war: smuggling of arms, drugs, goods and people. We are a committed contributor to combating these risks. But we need to enhance our capabilities to protect Moldova and shield the EU from these risks. Our good cooperation with Frontex and Europol, and the opening of a EU security hub in Chisinau this past summer are testimony to our progress toward our shared goals. But the effects of the war will be felt for decades ahead. We need to further strengthen the capacity of our police and law enforcement to deal with the consequences.
Meanwhile, criminal groups that want to destabilize the political situation and topple the government are trying to undermine our efforts in the justice sector. Their attacks are part of the hybrid war waged against Moldova. One such group, which pays people to attend anti-government protests in central Chisinau every week, is funded directly by Russia. Such hostile actions are a retribution for Moldova’s condemnation of the war, our standing with Ukraine, and for our European choice.
We must work together to stop these groups. The United States recently sanctioned some of these individuals. But we need to do more to constrain the capacity of these groups to destabilize Moldova and the region. Therefore, I call on our partners in this platform, including the EU and its member states, to sanction the high level corrupt criminals, who are not only stealing public funds, but are directly threatening the stability and democracy of our countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Moldovans chose democracy, peace, freedom and the EU over autocracy, corruption and war. Our society’s will is strong - but our institutions remain weak. The coming winter months will test Moldova’s resilience to the limit. The only way to succeed is with the backing of our partners.
I thank French President Emmanuel Macron and his team for hosting the third reunion of the Moldova Support Platform in Paris today. Your consistent support has made it easier for Moldova to overcome its many challenges. Most importantly - it helped us put the country on a firm track towards the EU. We are immensely grateful for that.
I also thank the co-chairs Annalena Baerbock, Catherine Colonna and Bogdan Aurescu for their personal commitment to Moldova. I am grateful to all the countries and organizations represented here for their solidarity and concrete support to our people.
The pledges announced here today, will help us move forward with our reforms, keep social peace, maintain stability and continue contributing to a more stable continent.
We are looking forward to hosting this group of friends of Moldova in Chisinau next year, for a next reunion of this Support Platform.
The winter ahead will be difficult and the years ahead will not be easy. For Ukraine. For Moldova. For Europe.
Today, standing here with you in Paris, I am more confident than ever that we will succeed in bringing back peace on our continent. We will succeed in defending our democracies and liberties. I am also confident that Moldova will continue to stand as a proud member of our community of values, will join the European Union and we will continue to work together for a stronger and more peaceful Europe.