Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And Mr. Prime Minister, leaders of the parliament, and Madam Foreign Minister, it’s a great, great privilege for me to be here in Moldova. This is my first visit here, as you know well. Vice President Biden came here in 2011. I think I’m the first Secretary of State to come here since Jim Baker in the 1990s. That’s too long, too much of a gap. So it’s a real privilege for me to be able to be here.
Let me congratulate you and your government on the very important steps that you have taken and are taking. The reforms that you are putting in place, the courage that you are showing and your people are showing to express their determination to align themselves with Europe and with opportunity, to be free to choose where and how you will engage in your economic activity is fundamental. And we applaud you for it.
I know this is a short visit, and I apologize upfront for its brevity. But I would rather come here for part of the day today than miss it altogether. And I think it’s a very important moment for me to be able to come here. I have just come from the meetings of NATO in Brussels. There was a great deal of discussion about the Vilnius meeting and about your signature, your initials on both the Association Agreement as well as on the deep and concentrated free trade agreement. We are convinced that any country ought to be able to make a choice of where it wants to affiliate, where it wants to conduct its economic activities, and in what way at which it conducts its affairs without external interference, and certainly without external pressures that have a profound impact on your people.
So I am here to affirm to you that the United States will stand with you. We are strongly supportive of what you are trying to achieve. We’ve provided some assistance and we will provide more. And we will continue to work with you on this road to your return, if you will, to this affiliation with Europe. And we look forward to it. And I’m very grateful to you for your very generous welcome here today.