Dear President Cassis,
Thank you for having me at the launch of the Effective Development Cooperation Summit. I am humbled to be in a room full of individuals, representing states, organizations, communities, civil society, the private sector - people who are committed to making progress in poverty reduction and human development in their respective countries and across the globe.
Yet how come when there is so much will, means, and resources available, we are still off-track in achieving a better living for the majority of our people, we are slow in achieving SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).What are we missing?
As we are faced with ever more complex challenges, how can we increase the effectiveness of the development tools we will use to address them?
These questions have answers. They might be different depending on where we stand, but we have them. What we need is more solidarity, trust, a more open dialogue with each other.
We need development solutions that are better tailored to the challenges faced by different countries. We need to work closer and better together.
I’d like to share with you three recent experiences of my country, the Republic of Moldova, in how we deal with unprecedented and interlinked challenges that, alone, we are not prepared to face despite the strong political will to change things for the better for our citizens.
First - the pandemic.
The world, as we know it, was put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic. Countries struggled to keep the sanitary crisis in check and get vaccines for their citizens, while the world economy took a massive hit, its consequences we can still feel today.
In December 2020, when the world was already providing vaccines to their first line responders and to the most vulnerable, there was no light at the end of the tunnel for Moldova.
Immediately after we came to power, my team and I made extensive efforts to secure vaccine deliveries to our country of under 3 million people, a market of no interest to vaccine producers during a time of scarce supply and fierce competition for the jab.
But we called persistently on our international partners - and they delivered. In an act of extraordinary solidarity, Moldova got a first batch of vaccines from neighboring and friendly Romania, in February 2021.
Soon after, we were the first country in Europe to receive a vaccine donation via the COVAX platform. Thanks to our strong determination and relationship of trust that we built with our international partners, we were able to start vaccination in Moldova in March 2021, and save many lives.
Second - the war.
In February 2022, as many countries were still grappling with the effects of the pandemic, Russia attacked the very core of the international rules-based order - the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country, Ukraine, our neighbor and friend. This brutal, unjust and unprovoked war also profoundly affects my country.
On the morning of February 24, thousands of Ukrainians - mostly women, children and elderly - started lining up at our border, fleeing from the Russian bombs that were falling on their homes. This was the first refugee crisis we had to deal with in our history. Moldovans and international organizations were unprepared for what was to come.
But the Moldovan people followed their intrinsic values and instincts. They opened up their hearts and homes to help all Ukrainians who needed shelter.
Central institutions, local governments and communities, our diaspora, civil society, development partners and the private sector mobilized and worked closely together to put in place proper mechanisms to welcome all who needed a roof and a hot meal.
That system was not ideal. It wasn’t always as rapid as we envisioned it. But it worked. It worked because the government, civil society, and our international partners and donors trusted each other. And because, from day one, the Government was transparent and comprehensive about their needs regarding refugee assistance and about the use of resources.
Nearly 700 thousand Ukrainians passed through Moldova since the beginning of this war. For a population of 2.6 million people this is more than a quarter of our population. Over 80 thousand of them are still in Moldova today. Half of them are children. Many of them live with regular Moldovan families.
Donors funded programs to help integrate refugees by facilitating employment, learning Romanian language, ensuring access to online education for Ukrainian children and other measures.
Transparency and trust also helped us step up our cooperation in the field of security with our international partners, primarily with the European Union and its member states. Our border guards now work alongside Frontex officers to secure our borders and prevent human, arms and drugs trafficking stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Third - the energy crisis.
As Moldova now braces for a hard winter caused by an unprecedented energy crisis, we are working side by side with our partners to handle this challenge. We want to ensure that our citizens have affordable access to gas, heating, and electricity this winter.
For this, the government put together in record time a credible system of identifying those most vulnerable who need government support. This was instrumental in setting up a credible Energy Vulnerability Reduction Fund to help compensate for the excessively high energy costs incurred by our citizens due to the anomalies on the spot market.
The Energy Vulnerability Fund helps us address the energy crisis. Friends like the EU, Germany, France, Sweden, the United States, and others offered loans, grants, and direct budget support to help Moldova get through this winter. We are grateful for their generous help.
In April, Germany together with France and Romania, set up a unique solidarity mechanism - the Moldova Support Platform, which brings together partners and friends to help Moldova overcome the multiple crises triggered by the war.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During the last two years, my team and I have done everything possible to regain the trust of our international partners that previous corrupt governments managed to lose. Working together, side by side, to tackle these interlinked challenges, has made our development cooperation more effective, with impact reaching every citizen. During all this time, we maintained a transparent and open dialogue with our partners, backed by a strong political will to consolidate democracy and help our citizens live better lives.
The experiences that strengthened our international partnerships also convinced member states of the European Union to grant us June the candidate status to join the EU.
Today, the Moldovan Government is committed to implementing reforms for EU integration, including reform of public administration which will improve the capacity of national systems.
We will continue reducing transaction costs for development aid.
We also promote regular information sharing between Government, development partners, civil society and private sector as key to improved coordination and effective partnerships.
We want to improve the efficiency of the assistance provided, by inviting civil society and the private sector to participate in determining the priorities of development assistance and its monitoring, and by making information about assistance transparent and accessible.
Moldova is working towards a future in the community of European nations, as a part of the free world. The country is changing - that’s what our citizens expect from their government, and that’s what we strive to deliver.
In a world of ever more complex challenges, doing it alone is not an option. Moldova is committed to a democratic path of development. And in this transformation, we count on the help of our partners. Champions of reform need support if they are to continue on their path and inspire others. Champions of democracy need the consistent support of their international partners.
I call on the international community to continue its support to Ukraine, to help it prevail and remain part of the free world. As the country defends its independence and fights to restore its territorial integrity, Ukrainians also defend our freedom. They defend the whole of Europe.
Switzerland, our host today, has been by our side for the last three decades to help develop our country, build our local infrastructure, support educational and cultural projects, and fund projects to empower our youth. President Cassis, Moldovans are grateful for this generous assistance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For years, Moldova missed opportunities to develop in a sustainable, transparent and accountable manner. Today we are committed to our own progress, and we are determined to advance our national development agenda in a responsible and transparent manner.
In this effort, we count on the help and support of our friends in the international community. To them I say: today you have a partner you can trust in Chisinau.
On behalf of the Moldovan people, I express my gratitude to all our international partners for the help and solidarity offered during utmost difficult times.
Your aid makes a big difference for my country - helping us advance on needed reforms, strengthen our institutions, introduce new services for the most vulnerable, promote progressive policies in the economy or the environment, and change our citizens’ lives for the better.