DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,
I have the honour to join you and deliver my first speech from the most important tribune of the United Nations.
The accession of the Republic of Moldova to the UN, its active participation in all the institutions of the Organization, as well as the possibility of sharing here the most important ideas, wishes and problems, is among the outstanding achievements of the people of the Republic of Moldova since 1991.
To begin with, I would like to congratulate Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande on his election as President of the 74thsession of the UN General Assembly and to wish him much success in fulfilling his mandate.
I also express my appreciation to Mrs. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés for the wonderful work she has done as President of the previous session.
I will avail of the opportunity to hold my speech in front of you in order to assure you of the full support by the Republic of Moldova for all the initiatives and projects launched by the UN lately – actions designed to solve the most complicated problems that humanity faces within this tumultuous beginning of the century.
At the same time, I also take advantage of this opportunity to highlight the most pressing challenges that Republic of Moldova is facing with at this stage, but also our vision regarding possible ways to solve them.
As is widely known that we are living in times when the magnitude and number of lasting crises is constantly increasing. Military conflicts and humanitarian crises, climate change and environmental degradation, exaggerated consumption of natural resources and economic imbalances, forced and encouraged migration are real threats in the process of building a prosperous and peaceful world, as it is set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Against this background, the role of the United Nations, as guarantor of international peace and security, but also as a global platform for identifying common solutions to existing and emerging challenges, is paramount. In this way, we express support to the UN Secretary General for the agenda of ambitious reforms in progress. We also reaffirm our support to preventive diplomacy, promoted by Mr. Antόnio Guterres, aiming at preventing crises and conflicts.
Just a decade away from 2030, we find, with regret, that poverty, hunger, inequality, and social exclusion continue to affect lives and globally feed new conflicts. The Republic of Moldova joins the joint appeal launched at the recent High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development Goals, which calls on the international community to accelerate efforts for achieving the 2030 Agenda Goals.
Through the 2030 Agenda, we are committed to promote sustainable development based on respect for human rights.
As in the past, the Republic of Moldova is determined to continue its contribution to fulfilling the important mandates of the Human Rights Council.
In this context, referring briefly to one of the aspects of social issues, I would like to mention that ensuring gender equality and empowering women are crucial elements for accelerating sustainable development by boosting economic growth, the well-being of families, communities, as well as of the state as a whole. Lately, the Republic of Moldova has made remarkable progress in enhancing the role of women in the decision-making process. Women head the Parliament and Government of the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Autonomy of Gagauzia, and they also represent 65% of the members of Government and 25% of the members of national Parliament. Nor do we forget about the crucial role of women in any modern society – that of mother and preserver of family hearth. Namely in order to focus the state’s attention to the necessity of protecting and stimulating the creation and preservation of families, we have decreed the year 2019 as the Family Year in the Republic of Moldova.
Climate change is a direct threat to humankind, and the effects of this phenomenon are perceived worldwide, affecting ecosystems, national economies, and healthcare systems. In addition, of course, these phenomena affect my country, too.
The Republic of Moldova expresses its solidarity with Mr. Guterres’ call to intensify efforts to halt the phenomenon of climate change.
We are firmly convinced that the complex problems facing the peoples of the world can only be solved through joint international efforts. The realities of the period we are going through denote that even internal issues cannot be settled exclusively with solitary efforts of a nation.
Quite often, such problems can only be solved with the help of international partners, and this is especially the case of small countries.
The example of the Republic of Moldova is representative in this regard and is relevant, to large extent, for many states of the world.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
Over 28 years since the Declaration of our Independence, my country’s profile has some dramatic characteristics. During this period, the number of new-borns has decreased by three times, the population remaining in the country decreased by 30%, and some economic indicators have not even returned to the level of 1990.
About one million citizens, i.e. more than half of the economically active population, work abroad. The massive depopulation of the country has become a major problem and a real threat for the state sustainability. The enormous investments of our society in human capital and in education of the labour force have practically no economic feedback, the country loses the competition for the labour force, and our people create benefit and pay taxes elsewhere.
The origin of these bleak developments is, of course, a complex one, from poor governance and endemic corruption in recent years, to failures in economic or inter-ethnic policies.
However, from this tribune of the United Nations, I will highlight one of the major factors, in my opinion. It is about the positioning, the place of the Republic of Moldova and of other regional states in the puzzle of policies and strategic interests of the main world powers. I dislike using military terms and certainly, it is not the most relevant comparison, but a similarity to the term terra nullius from the perspective of geopolitical confrontations in the region can be easily noticed.
I should remark that although since the military conflict on Nistru River in 1992 no shell exploded in our territory, the confrontation between major geopolitical players for a better positioning in the region has never ceased. Over all these years, there has been no consensus between the great powers regarding the Republic of Moldova.
Our country is a multi-ethnic state and, by virtue of historical developments of the last centuries, the geopolitical preferences of our population are divided almost equally between East and West, between the Russian Federation and the West.
This essential feature, but also a constant one for a long time ahead, has reduced to zero the effects of uninspired and even adventurous strategies of attracting Moldova in alliances against others. Once our politicians and national elites got involved in such actions, the country had to pay a high price for it. First, there was blood and disintegration following the armed conflict in Transnistrian region of the country, then it was economic and social degradation already over several decades.
Unfortunately, throughout the 28 years of independence of the Republic of Moldova, the diametrically opposed geopolitical preferences were the basis of the split of Moldovan society, a fact speculated with much ability by different political forces exclusively in the interests extraneous to our people.
This is why, as President of the Republic of Moldova, I make use of every opportunity to request the de facto recognition and observance of my country’s neutrality status, which is also enshrined in our country’s Constitution.
We do not want to be treated as neutral territory anymore; this is something different from a neutral state.
Any attempt to question this status is an unfriendly act against the people of the Republic of Moldova, since such approaches deepen the internal dissensions of the country even more dramatically.
Moreover, they jeopardize any chance of advancing in the settlement of Transnistrian problem and, implicitly, in enhancing the security throughout the region. Our objective and absolute priority for solving the Transnistrian problem is achievable only if the military neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova is preserved.
From this tribune, several times the calls were made for withdrawal of foreign military troops and ammunition from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
I want to welcome the latest initiatives of the Russian Federation, expressed during the recent visit to Moldova by Russian Defence Minister Shoygu and during the official visit of Moldovan Foreign Minister Popescu to Moscow, to resume the disposal process of foreign ammunition stored in Transnistrian region of my country.
This important step, for the first time since 2003, can become crucial for reaching a geopolitical consensus for the political settlement of Transnistrian dispute and for the enhancement of regional security.
Unlike other frozen conflicts, the Transnistrian case does not have interethnic, religious or other implications, which are particularly difficult to be settled. Moreover, nowadays there is no hatred between ordinary inhabitants on both banks of Nistru river, who interact daily in a peaceful and friendly way. At the base of the conflict were the myopic policies promoted by the leaders of that time, aggravated by the effects generated by dismantling the former USSR in early 1990s. The national elites of that time were not capable enough to face the challenges, and the situation deteriorated into armed conflict.
Currently, we witness a strong predisposition among common population to identify a mutually acceptable solution to this frozen conflict. The recent progress in the effort to converge the Nistru banks, materialized through various humanitarian, economic and social projects, further strengthened this desire.
All these aspects, taken together, represent, in our opinion, a good chance for great diplomats to make a decisive contribution to the settlement of this frozen conflict and to create a positive precedent for solving other tens of such cases throughout the world.
Availing of this opportunity, I want to express my gratitude to all the participants in the Permanent Conference for Political Issues in the negotiation process for Transnistrian settlement, known as "5+2 negotiation format". I reaffirm our confidence that this format of negotiations is the most recommended arrangement to find the solution acceptable to all in this problem of major importance for Moldova. Exactly in this format, the special status of Transnistrian region is to be debated and agreed within a sovereign and territorially integrated Moldova, within the internationally recognized borders, with full guarantee of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We also rely on the format in identifying possibilities for the support eventually rendered by our foreign partners in the post-settlement phase of Transnistrian problem.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
Since June 8, 2019, the Republic of Moldova is governed by a parliamentary coalition consisting of political parties that represent the vast majority of the country's population. It is a unique case for the Republic of Moldova, when two political forces with diametrically opposed doctrines and geopolitical preferences joined forces to govern and solve the country's pressing problems. However, what is important and unprecedented for our region is that this internal consensus is strengthened also by the common position of the main development partners of the Republic of Moldova and of the great world powers, including the Russian Federation, United States, and European Union.
It is an exclusive case in the international politics, when geopolitical forces have united their efforts against a criminal regime, which had captured a whole state.
This very rare situation and conjuncture of agreement both on domestic and external stage feeds our hopes for a real progress on the path of the very necessary internal reforms, such as the justice reform and the fight against corruption, as well as on the way of solving the Transnistrian problem.
One of the consolidating elements of the current governing coalition in the Republic of Moldova is the awareness of the importance and the willingness to promote a balanced foreign policy with all strategic partners of the country.
The exponents of both political parties in the parliamentary majority have already established a constructive dialogue with the Eastern and Western partners, and this essentially increases our chances for obtaining the external support we need. There is a common approach regarding the need to respect all the political and economic agreements signed by the Republic of Moldova, including the Association Agreement with EU and the cooperation within the CIS.
A distinguished place on our agenda is given to the relations with the two neighbouring countries and friends of the Republic of Moldova – Romania and Ukraine.
Faced with similar problems, we see in deepening our humanitarian, economic, political and social relations an enormous development potential for the benefit of citizens.
The main challenge, both before the new governing coalition and before the big geopolitical forces that have supported the democratic changes in Chisinau, is whether we will really show the sufficient political maturity to go further than just removing the state from the captivity of oligarchs.
I am firmly convinced that this unprecedented internal and external consensus could and should be used by all of us to make real changes in the quality of citizens’ life, to find a solution to Transnistrian problem, to give a new chance to the Republic of Moldova.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
The Republic of Moldova is a multi-ethnic country inhabited by representatives of about 125 ethnic groups.
A third of the population consider themselves Russian-speaking. The Russian language, one of the six official languages of the United Nations, has the status of a language of interethnic communication in Moldova.
As President of the Republic of Moldova, I consider that the main task of the recently formed parliamentary majority, supported by eighty percent of the country's population, as well as by our Western and Eastern strategic partners, is to create a single legal democratic neutral multi-ethnic state where a decent life and confidence in the future is guaranteed to every inhabitant.
We will be friends and will interact with all our partners. The “either-or” policy, which in recent years has been pursued by a number of major powers with respect to the Republic of Moldova, has clearly shown its fallacy and inadequacy.
I am supporter of the concept of a united Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, while Moldova as a European state will play a particular role in this process.
I want to emphasize once again that as the head of state I am an active supporter of a balanced foreign policy of the Republic of Moldova and I am ready to comprehensively promote mutually beneficial cooperation with all UN member states with which we have established diplomatic relations.
For Moldovan people, as well as for the peoples of other countries –members of the United Nations, peace is the main value. We strive to ensure peaceful coexistence with our neighbours and development partners.
Our intention is to strengthen the stability and security of the Republic of Moldova, to maintain the constitutional status of permanent neutrality of our state and to strive for its recognition at international level, following the model of countries such as Austria.
In this context, the example of military neutrality of certain states like Austria can be relevant as a pattern for the Republic of Moldova, too.
The neutrality however does not mean isolation; Moldova thus will go on strengthening its multilateral cooperation with Russia, United States, European Union, its neighbours and other states.
I believe the key to our success is the promotion of the concept of international recognition of the military neutrality of the Republic of Moldova along with the completion of removal and disposal of ammunition left in the territory of the Republic of Moldova since the Soviet era, with full and final completion of the withdrawal of foreign troops from the state, which I have the honour to represent at this high tribune.
Upon reaching the final political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict there will be no need of a peacekeeping mission in our territory.
At the end of my speech, I want to emphasize once again the importance of maintaining the consensus of main geopolitical actors regarding the Republic of Moldova.
Only under such circumstances do the chances of solving the severe problems facing my country shall increase, including the Transnistrian problem.
I am very confident that such an effort and support from the Russian Federation and the West could radically change the profile of my country, which I was talking about with so much concern at the beginning of this intervention.
I reaffirm the commitment of the Republic of Moldova to UN approaches to the main problems the humankind faces now. The Republic of Moldova remains firmly committed to observing the principles of the UN Charter and the vision of sustainable development, anchored in the 2030 Agenda.
Our determination bases on the full awareness about the imperative nature of the solidarity among nations in the face of modern challenges.
We are few hundred peoples and countries, but we have one home, one planet, which we must take care of together, regardless of our place under the sun.
Thank you for your attention!