We are meeting here today having witnessed a historic step, which shows that we can make a difference when we stand together, especially in times of crises.
Moldova is now officially a candidate for EU membership. I think not everyone would have imagined such a step three months ago.
Madam President, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. It was your young and democratic government that made this possible for the people of your country. This is a crucial achievement. We were at a crossroads and we took the right direction, even though there were some discussions at the beginning. But this is what politics is all about: making decisions in difficult times.
The European Council thus followed the appraisal by the Commission, which stated that “Moldova is a European State committed to respecting and promoting the values on which the European Union is founded”.
Of course, this is only the beginning of a challenging process.
But, above all, it sends a signal – to the Moldovan people, to all Europeans, to those who believe in international law and the peace project of the European Union: Moldova’s future lies in Europe. We share the same values; we share the same hopes. And we share the same destiny.
I can assure you that Germany will be right by your side. We are in this for the long run.
Our message today is the same one we had three months ago, at our first Support Conference in Berlin: Moldova does not stand alone.
We want to emphasise that we can make a difference if we stand together. Because, frankly speaking, Moldova was in a very critical situation. When I visited your country, we discussed what it would mean if you did not have an energy supply, what it would mean if Russia was going to use hybrid warfare to make your country collapse.
Ladies and gentlemen, the suffering of the Ukrainian people has continued in the past few months. And so has the enormous pressure on Moldova. We are aware of the challenges your country is facing, and we are here to address them.
Moldova, with only 2.5 million inhabitants, is still hosting more than 70,000 Ukrainian refugees.
Moldova is playing an instrumental role in exporting grain from Ukraine, by opening its rail lines, its roads and its port infrastructure. This not only helps Ukraine and its farmers, but also contributes to global food security.
Moldova is feeling the economic shockwaves of the war. Its vital economic links to Ukraine and Russia have been disrupted:
businesses are unable to export their goods, energy prices are rising dramatically, and supply chains have been interrupted. And a 29 percent inflation rate is something many of us can hardly imagine. Moldovan migrant workers in Russia are struggling to support their families back home.
That is why we must double down on our efforts to support Moldova – as agreed at the first Moldova Support Conference in Berlin in April. The three central goals of the Moldova Platform remain unchanged:
First, we will keep mobilising support for Moldova – politically and financially. I am happy to announce that Germany is scaling up its efforts. We are planning to provide a substantial grant, totalling up to 77 million euro, for development cooperation with Moldova. What is more, because we have heard what you said three months ago, we need direct budget support. I know that this is not easy for many countries, also for mine, and we have a special procedure for this. We have to get the approval of our parliament to make this possible. But we are ready to do so. The 77 million euro include a 40 million grant for Moldova’s Energy Vulnerability Reduction Programme – a direct grant to support the poorest families in your country in particular. I’m delighted to announce this, but we can only do this together. So I call on each and every country to see if direct budget support is possible.
Second, Germany will contribute additional funds to support refugees and host communities in Moldova. What we heard from you at the first conference is still valid: you need support so children can go to school in the winter, in heated buildings. We will specifically address the needs of displaced women and girls in the region – because women are especially vulnerable in this war. We thank all our partners for their commitments made at the first conference in Berlin, and we call on them to continue their support.
Third, we need to keep looking beyond short-term “emergency support” and also address Moldova’s longer-term needs. This includes a transition to renewable energies so the country can become more energy independent. We are also supporting public administration reform and the fight against corruption. All of these measures will contribute to achieving our common goal: improving the living standards of the people of Moldova.
We have worked on these measures in five working groups in recent months. This is another thing that sets this platform apart. It is not only about words, but this conference is about action, about change on the ground. I’d like to thank our teams and everyone involved for their hard work. I’m looking forward to hearing about the outcomes of their discussions during the subsequent session. We welcome the idea of adding a working group on Public Administration and Public Finance Management.
I would like to thank Minister Aurescu and his team for organising this important event. I would also like to thank France and all of the delegations present – and, of course, the Moldovan Government.
Our message remains: Moldova does not stand alone.