AMBASSADOR LOGSDON: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It’s great to have you here. If it’s all right with you, I will go ahead and make a couple of opening remarks.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Please.
AMBASSADOR LOGSDON: Introduce you to the experts so you know who we’re talking to, and then ask you to maybe say a word or two.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Wonderful.
AMBASSADOR LOGSDON: And then I’ll have each of them say just a slight bit about what they’re interested in and what they’d like you to know.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Wonderful. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR LOGSDON: Thanks.
So 30 years after independence, obviously, the Republic of Moldova is at a critical moment, its economy, its workforce, and the democratic aspirations of its people increasingly focused on closer integration with Europe. As in many countries, civil society is a leader in advocating for the changes needed for Moldova to become a fully democratic and prosperous country, fully secure within its internationally recognized borders and with a government that’s accountable to all of its citizens. On March 3rd, the Government of the Republic of Moldova submitted its formal request for EU accession, and as Moldova considers its next steps toward Europe while welcoming and protecting a large number of refugees from Ukraine, we wanted you to hear from some of those who are working on the front lines of Moldova’s thriving civil society sector.
First, we have Nadejda, Nadejda Hriptievschi, a leading advocate for democratic reforms and human rights, followed by Victor Parlicov. He’s one of the country’s foremost energy policy experts. Following we have Nadine Gogu, and she leads the Independent Journalism Center, which supports free media in Moldova. Then we have Ludmila Nofit, and Ludmila’s with Moldova’s preeminent foreign policy think tank. And finally, but not last, we have Vadim Pistrinciuc, and he’s an expert in strategic development and conflict settlement, former member of parliament. So you’ve got quite a range of interests here.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Wonderful. Well, Ambassador, thank you so much, and to each and every one of you, thank you for taking some time today. I was eager to meet you, but mostly to hear from you, because the work that you’ve been doing day in, day out to build different aspects of Moldova’s democracy is so vital for Moldova, but it’s also, I think, a very important lesson for many parts of the world, because even as we’ve seen in recent years some democracies in different ways fall back, Moldova keeps moving forward. And that’s in no small measure because of the kind of work that you’re doing.
And I know that that work’s taken on a different kind of intensity in recent days with the war in Ukraine and the aggression by Russia against Ukraine. I know some of you have friends, colleagues, and others who are in Ukraine and at risk now, others who’ve come here, and Moldova’s hospitality and support has been absolutely remarkable.
But it also underscores something else that’s important, I think, which is that the very work you’re doing here to build Moldova’s democracy, to build civil society, to build nongovernmental organizations – that’s exactly the kind of work that, among other things, President Putin is trying to destroy in Ukraine, because the very success of democracy is a threat to President Putin and the direction he’s taken his own country, Russia. And so it only amplifies how important the work you’re doing is not only for Moldova but as a powerful example for the world.
But I’m mostly anxious to just hear from you, hear about your experiences, hear about your challenges. As the ambassador said, we know well Moldova’s European aspirations and the work necessary to continue to advance in that direction, the reforms that are so important across different aspects of Moldovan society, whether it’s rule of law, an independent judiciary, an independent media. All the kinds of things that you’re working on I’m very anxious to hear about, so with that, let me stop talking and hear from you.