Good morning! It is a pleasure to join you all today! Though I wish I could be there in person, I am grateful for the opportunity to connect to this important conference from my home in Chisinau.
Thank you, Ambassador Ursu for your words highlighting the strength of the US-Moldova partnership. I was so glad we got the chance to meet before you headed to the United States as Moldova’s new Ambassador, and I am so pleased to know that you’re on the ground doing the good work of diplomacy already! I also wish to thank Prime Minister Gavrilita and AID Administrator Power for their remarks at this conference today.
I am honored to serve as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova. Over the last 30 years the U.S. and Moldova have built a strong partnership based on shared values and common aspirations. This partnership has been critical in addressing immediate challenges facing our countries while also looking forward to help Moldova build a democratic, prosperous, and secure future.
During our three decades of partnership, the United States has provided nearly $2 billion in assistance to Moldova, investing in everything from roads and infrastructure to academics and even fashion. We have implemented countless strategic projects across all sectors of Moldova, helping to modernize agriculture, fight corruption, strengthen the information technology sector, and support independent media growth. We are also incredibly proud of our people-to-people programs. Since 1992, more than 5,000 Moldovans have traveled to the United States and hundreds of Americans have come to Moldova through exchange programs. We have worked in partnership with the government to show that we stand with Moldova, and we look forward to the continuation of our strong and critical partnership for decades to come.
Our partnership was never more vital than in February of this year when Moldova began to feel the effects of Russia’s brutal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Moldova earned the admiration of the world as a small country with a big heart as it welcomed more than 500,000 refugees who found safe haven here. The United States stood shoulder to shoulder with Moldova from the earliest days of the crisis, providing millions in immediate assistance to meet the needs of the refugees. We’ve since pivoted to supporting the long-term work of organizations like the UNHCR and others in their assistance to those forced to flee Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
While we work with Moldova to address its acute challenges, the United States continues to support democratic development and reforms toward harmonizing Moldovan and EU law. Moldovan voters rejected the country’s legacy of entrenched political corruption. Supporting the Moldovan people and media to hold their government accountable will make Moldova a model partner and an example for the region and the world of an effective and vibrant democracy committed to the rule of law.
We promote deeper and diverse trade, investment, and energy cooperation in Moldova. Improving the business climate, decreasing energy reliance on Russia, and reducing corruption can increase opportunities for American companies – as well as Moldovan entrepreneurs and workers – to benefit from this transformation. This includes strengthening Moldova’s finance and banking sectors, improving its cybersecurity capabilities, and developing high-value exports in key industries to global markets.
At the moment when it matters most, USAID is collaborating with the the government on the critical area of energy security to strengthen and diversify Moldova’s energy sector.
USAID is also expanding global market integration of transformative economic sectors in Moldova, strengthening local governments to be more effective, transparent, and accountable to citizens, and improving productivity and standards to integrate Moldova into European and international markets.
In happy news for me here in Chisinau, today is National Wine Day, and I had the pleasure to visit the festival earlier today. We are proud that USAID has supported Moldova’s wine industry for 17 years, and in that time we’ve seen tremendous growth in the industry. Now more than 80 percent of the wine Moldova produces is exported, and it’s not just going to traditional markets, it’s reaching 71 countries! I hope you all can pick up some Moldovan wine at a local shop today for a small taste of home!
The United States has also donated millions of dollars of equipment to build the capacity of Moldovan law enforcement to keep the country safe, including vehicles and secure communications equipment for the Customs Service and Border Police, and IT equipment for the Cybercrime Unit and Forensics Unit. We are also focused on supporting the government’s justice sector anticorruption reform agenda, including the pre-vetting of the Superior Council of Magistrates and Superior Council of Prosecutors and the vetting of judges and prosecutors. We will also help strengthen the capacity of the anticorruption agencies to prosecute high-level corruption.
Another clear sign of our commitment to Moldova is our Peace Corps program. Since 1993, Peace Corps Moldova has hosted over 1,500 Peace Corps volunteers. These volunteers have supported communities on projects in education, health, and community economic development. During the pandemic we had to suspend our volunteer placements but getting volunteers back has been one of my highest priorities and we hope to have them back in 2023. In the meantime, Peace Corps staff has been providing professional development training to teachers and community-based organizations.
The United States is also proud of our military partnership with Moldova with several security cooperation programs to help Moldova build its capacity to defend its constitutional neutrality. The State Partnership Program with the North Carolina National Guard has been a particularly meaningful connection between our two peoples. The United States has provided over $81M worth of Foreign Military Financing and $34M worth of humanitarian assistance through our defense partnership.
Our countries have an important shared history. We have been incredibly successful together over the last 30 years, and I am excited to see where our partnership will take both the United States and Moldova in the next 30 years and beyond. Thank you.