Dear Mrs. Von der Leyen, dear Ursula,
I am happy to welcome you in Chisinau!
Your visit is a significant one for us. It speaks of the very good dialogue and the very close relations of the Republic of Moldova with the European Union that we have had for a long time, but especially in the last two years, despite the difficult period we are all going through.
A period marked by Russia's war against Ukraine, which is an attack on the entire free world - but which has united us and made us more united than ever.
The global order based on international law was violated with great cynicism and brutality by the Russian Federation on 24 February. Ukrainians today are defending their homeland, their future and their freedom with guns in hand. Millions of women, children and the elderly have found refuge in other countries. We helped them, all those who arrived in the Republic of Moldova, from day one - and from day one we condemned this war.
We respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and do not recognise the Russian Federation's annexation of Ukraine’s eastern territories. We also remain convinced that even greater efforts, global unity and solidarity are needed to force Russia out of Ukraine - this is the only way to restore peace.
Peace in Ukraine is vital for the peace and well-being of the whole continent, and it is essential for us in the Republic of Moldova, where security risks have increased considerably since the beginning of the war.
The war has also brought enormous economic and social damage to our country, which is felt by every citizen. We are facing the most serious energy crisis in the last three decades - a crisis in which energy resources are being used as weapons against democracy. And this 'energy war' is happening not only in the Republic of Moldova.
The authorities are making great efforts to secure the country's energy resources and reduce the burden of energy prices on people and the economy. Society is also making efforts - households, institutions and businesses have reduced their energy consumption. In October, gas consumption fell by 57% and electricity by 14% compared to October last year. However, the situation is still difficult and we can only face the energy crisis together.
European solidarity, including with the neighbouring countries of the European Union, is vital in these times of many crises. Only together, in solidarity, can we get through the coming winter and preserve our freedom and our peaceful and democratic future.
The European Union has always supported us in the most critical moments. In the last two years, marked by consecutive crises, our country has especially felt the support of the European Union.
We are grateful to the European Commission and the Member States for allocating, on 1 August, the first €50 million tranche of the new macro-financial assistance package.
We are grateful for the additional budget support of EUR 75 million, provided in August to meet the increasing expenditure on energy resources. Connecting the Republic of Moldova to EU electricity sources through the ENTSO-E continental electricity grid is a real lifeline in the current situation, when we can no longer buy electricity from Ukraine and Cuciurgan.
Thank you to all EU member countries that have offered us help during this period. And thank you to Romania, due to who we have electricity in our homes today.
We appreciate the assistance provided through the European Peace Facility: €7 million in 2021 to strengthen the medical and demining capabilities of the National Army; and €40 million announced in 2022 for six focus areas - defence logistics, mobility, command and control, cyber defence, air reconnaissance and tactical communications.
We appreciate the EU's support in managing the refugee crisis - and in this context I will mention the humanitarian aid provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism; the deployment of officers of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency - Frontex - in Moldova; and the decision to establish the European Union Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Chisinau.
Further, we are counting on strengthening law enforcement capacities; as well as improving border surveillance and rapid response capabilities; communication and data exchange and analysis; and law enforcement capabilities.
In turn, we are pleased to be able to contribute to the EU Solidarity Lanes Initiative for Ukraine - helping to ensure faster transit of grain, food and other primary goods to and from Ukraine.
Dear Madam President,
Thanks to our European partners, we were able to save more lives during the pandemic and help businesses survive.
Now, when the war has closed several markets for our agricultural producers, the European Union has come to their aid by temporarily increasing the quotas for seven Moldovan agricultural products exported to the EU market. We hope that the next step will be the elimination of these quotas on Moldovan products and the rapid completion of the procedures for authorising the export of our animal products to the EU market, which will help our exporters to integrate further into the European economy.
European programmes are helping to create new businesses and jobs in the country's towns and villages, and through EU-funded infrastructure projects we are modernising the country and improving people's lives.
Just two days ago I attended the inauguration of a segment of road rehabilitated with European support - in Porumbrei, Cimislia. It is just one of hundreds of projects in Moldova with EU funds that contribute to the modernisation of the country.
We are determined to move forward on the path of European integration, which we took a firm step in spring this year when we applied to join the European Union.
I would like to thank you personally, and your colleagues at the European Commission, for the support you have given us in achieving the EU candidate status.
We are firmly committed to the process of reforms to bring the country into the EU, including to meet the recommendations of the European Commission Opinion of 17 June 2022. We are counting on an early assessment in 2023 to launch accession negotiations and on the support of EU Member States in this path. And in parallel with the accession process, the Republic of Moldova will continue to implement the Association Agreement with the European Union.
It is up to all of us how quickly we will open the accession negotiations talks and how soon the day will come when Chisinau will be not only the capital of a candidate country, but a European capital.
We are determined to move towards that day, because we want to bring Moldova into the safe and prosperous area of the European Union. The space where human life and freedom are supreme values, where peace, dialogue and respect are founding principles, and where states are not attacked for the development path they choose.