Dear citizens, dear people,
On this important day for all of us, I wanted to talk to you about Moldova. That it is beautiful, that it is dear to us. That it exists through its beautiful people.
And I asked the children. They feel better. Because they filter what they see, what they feel through a pure heart, unclouded by today's problems and tomorrow's worries.
In their eyes, Moldova is good, without the bills piled up in the drawer, without wilted corn on the hill, without drought or energy crisis.
In their small eyes, Moldova is big. Like the hills where parents go to prune the vines, when you put your hand to your eyes, and it seems endless.
It’s loving. Like a mother when she strokes your forehead and laughs. And she's home, Mama.
It’s simple. Like the long-awaited rain. It touches the ground, and brings life.
It’s warm. Like bread out of the oven, as only Grandma knows how to make it.
Children feel better. Here's what the children wrote to me about home, about Moldova.
"When my mother braids my hair before school - that's what home means to me," Maria writes.
"Home means a safe place, where you grew up, where you are with your loved ones," says Evelina.
"When I can go to play and don't have to hide in the basement because of bombs," writes Vasilii.
"I'm a lucky child," writes Nelly. "I have a good place to live, a happy family, a house, bread on the table, and all the best."
Children know very well what they want. And adults want what children want. We just put it in more complicated words: freedom, democracy, welfare, respect for human rights, equal opportunities, justice, security.
In fact, we want to be happy.
And the chance to be happy can only be fulfilled once our natural needs are met. When you go to bed without the fear that a shell might fall on the house where your loved ones sleep.
When no mother has to take her children away from home, to another country, to protect them. When fathers go to work, not to war.
When you can speak your mind without suffering for it. When you don't go to jail for advocating for peace and opposing war. Or for criticizing the government.
When you don't have to whisper in your own house. When your state defends you and helps you. When your state values the life of each and every one of its citizens.
Yes, you will say, and when we have enough money to live with dignity. That is true. But for people to earn good wages, the country must be strong and democratic. Strong - so that it can defend its citizens from those who would do them harm. And democratic - so it can take care of the needs of its citizens.
Only in a democratic country can people choose what is best for them. Only in a free country does the state work for the people.
We only understand the importance of freedom when we lose it. Like health. We must take care of both. A free and democratic society will never allow a handful of people to get unjustly rich on the backs of the citizens. Or for thieves to go unpunished. Or for anyone to abuse their children. In a democracy people are equally valued and equally respected.
A free person, a free nation will choose for itself a better life, not a worse one. A country without freedom is held at the mercy of authoritarian rulers. No one has ever become prosperous locked up in prison.
Moldovans know this and have defended their freedom many times: in the early 1990s, in 2009, in 2015, and in 2019. Because they want to live as they see fit, to decide their own fate. Moldovans want the freedom to live in peace and well-being in their own country. Moldova is a free country. That is our strength.
Often, those on the frontlines who fight for freedom never get to enjoy it. They pay the highest price. They fought for freedom. We live it. And sometimes we forget that they have sacrificed their lives for freedom. We owe it to them to defend it. Against the populists, against the corrupt, and against liars. Let us cherish freedom and build wealth on it. For all.
Russia's unjust war against Ukraine clearly shows us the price of freedom. For six months, our Ukrainian neighbours have been defending their home, standing up for their freedom with the gun in hand and, unfortunately, at the cost of their own lives. Their lives and those of their children. Because they want to live free in their own country, to decide their own future and fate.
We hurried to help our Ukrainian neighbours. We have shared the little we have with them, we have opened our homes and our hearts to the frightened women, children and elders who sought refuge in our country as bombs fell on their homes in Ukraine. A whole world has seen us for what we are: a small country with a big heart.
We condemn war because we condemn murder. We condemn war because we love life. We love peace.
Until recently, for many of us, war was only in the stories of grandparents and parents, who told them with trembling voices, with horror in our eyes, with deep cutting pain. Now war is no longer a story, it is near us. It shook our lives, our security, our future.
Uncertainty grows, and with it weariness. Even when something good happens, it is overshadowed by worry. War means crisis and poverty.
But these hardships will not discourage us. On the contrary, they can bring us closer, they can strengthen us. For that is what we are - we close ranks in times of need. When the sky pours down and the house is flooded with water, we do not sit on the porch to mourn, we do not throw down our hands. We get to work.
Moldova knows what it wants. Just as her children know what they want. Moldovans don't need anyone to tell them what they want and how to live. We chose freedom. Not as a nice word engraved on a chalkboard, but as a clear desire to decide our own fate. To defend our dignity and our rights. To live happily at home.
We need help to make our dreams come true. And we ask for this help from the democratic world, from countries that respect their own citizens and want all the nations to live together in peace and good understanding.
This year, Moldova became a candidate country for membership to the European Union. Moldova can become stronger, more capable of defending its citizens, only in the family of European countries. Moldova can preserve and strengthen its democracy only in the EU. Moldova can ensure the well-being of its citizens by following a European model of development, which values freedom, honesty, work and respect for the rule of law.
European integration means concrete things, which can be felt by each of us. Two thirds of our exports go to EU countries. This year, even more Moldovan products can reach the European market duty-free. Moldovan carriers can move freely within the EU. We are connected to the European electricity grid.
The European Union helped us last winter to pay our high gas and heating bills and it does so again this winter. The EU helps us strengthen the rule of law, encourage businesses to create more jobs for our people, and invest in the infrastructure of our towns and villages.
We've been through a lot this year - but we're not alone. The government has no other concern today but to defend the interests of its people, changing the lives of Moldovan citizens for the better.
And in the upcoming period, authorities will give a helping hand to all those who need support. We will help low-income families. We will be there for the elderly. We will stand by people who work honestly. We will overcome, we will do everything we can to make it through the cold season. We will do everything that stays in our power to keep peace and security for all people in Moldova.
With trust, patience, cooperation and sustained efforts, building on the good relations we have with our friends and partners, we will find solutions to overcome all these difficulties.
And I am confident that we will succeed. Because we have chosen to succeed. When we chose freedom, when we chose to be part of the European family, we chose to succeed. We chose to matter. Because that is what a democratic European state is all about - a state where people matter and come first. You matter, your family matters. Your wishes matter. When you have a different opinion it matters. Your achievements matter.
I want every citizen to know: we are proud of you. We are proud of every child and young person who studies hard and has the courage to follow their dream. We are proud of every person who works honestly or contributes in other ways to the common good. In this way, we all contribute to the development and prosperity of our country. We are proud of the people of this country.
We are proud of Serghei Tarnovschi, Irina Rângaci, Anastasia Nichita, Victor Ciobanu, Denis Vieru, Zalina Marghieva, Cătălin Spânu - we are proud of all the athletes who often train in harsh conditions, but manage to bring glory to Moldova in the world.
We are proud of Nicolae Secrieru, Valentin Ilco, Alexei Martâniuc, Vlad Varzaru, Nicolae Levineț and Vladimir Melnic - the team of engineers who have built a satellite at the Technical University, here in our country, and managed to launch it into orbit, putting Moldova on the global map of space research.
We are proud of Ivan Schițco, Andrei Macovei, Vladimir Hamițevici, Iulian Baltag, Dragoș Cereș - the chess players who brough Moldova the 6th place in the world Olympic chess rankings, on a par with the United States and India.
We are proud of Valentina Naforniță, Marcel Lazăr, Adriano Marian, world-renowned for their talent, who have the inspiration to bring music closer to people, through projects with thousands of spectators.
Moldova is proud of all its people: teachers and farmers, entrepreneurs and civil servants, police officers and doctors, engineers and artists.
Fellow citizens, dear friends!
Today we all celebrate the main national holiday of the Republic of Moldova, our motherland, our common home.
Much has changed over the past year. We have seen how fragile human life can be. We have seen hundreds of thousands of people who fled to our country looking for shelter. We have seen the whole Republic of Moldova - all of the people of the Republic of Moldova! - help those who were left homeless. And today our main dream is to restore peace. A common peace - for all people.
On the birthday of the Republic of Moldova, I would like to wish us unity. Yes, we are all different. We have different views on life, different voices, we speak different languages. But we're all humans first of all. And we all want to live in a free world, under a peaceful sky, in peace and prosperity.
Let us appreciate what we have. In thirty-one years of independence, we learned the importance of freedom. We learned to decide for ourselves how to live our lives. We see the price of freedom when it is taken away from others.
Moldova's main wealth is its people. Our people deserve a better life. And our task is to make sure that every person can live and grow freely, in their own country. To build an open and honest society in Moldova. To build a state that we will be proud of.
I am certain that we will succeed because I trust in the resilience and wisdom of our people. Let us have faith in ourselves. Let's not stop in the middle of the road, no matter how hard it is. Let's carry on and leave a free country to our children. A country where they can shape their own destiny, in their own home, and reap the rewards.
And if anyone asks: "What good are freedom and democracy to you if prices are rising and it is harder to live?", we will answer with confidence: our freedom makes us stronger. It gives us voice, dignity and power. It makes us stand up for ourselves, without fear, and make decisions according to our own interests, not according to the dictates of someone foreign. By being free, we have courage, we have choice - and we have a community of friends who stand by us.
The war will end, and we will emerge from these crises stronger, wiser, and more resilient. And we will continue on our path of building a free and democratic Moldova, a good home for its people.
Life in Moldova is what we make of it, together. "Other countries may be good, but home is better," Valeria wrote to me. Let's follow 5th grader Nelly's call: "Let's do everything, take every effort, to turn Moldova into Paradise".