As Moldova recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of Independence, TIMPUL sat down with Prime Minister Pavel Filip to discuss how our country has fared over the past quarter-century. About Moldova’s ups and downs, about plans and prospects, and also about national pride – it’s all in Pavel Filip’s interview below.
- Mr. Prime Minister, the Republic of Moldova is celebrating twenty-five years of Independence. What is in your opinion the significance of these twenty-five years for our country?
It’s been twenty-five years of learning, on our own feet, from better or worse choices, what democracy and market economy mean. Over the past twenty-five years we’ve searched for our course as a nation, we’ve made choices and changes, and have become democratically mature. What’s most important is that today Moldova knows what it wants, and that it has a clearly set country policy, which is European integration. Moreover, the political commitments of the Government and of the parliamentary majority have gone past the stage of rhetoric and are followed by measures and reforms that have effects on people’s everyday lives. Moldova enters now a different stage, that of economic and social results that will benefit every citizen. Higher living standards will be the main consequence of getting closer to Europe
- Perhaps it’s already a banal question, but we still want to know your opinion on this as well: is the Republic of Moldova an independent country?
We are undoubtedly an independent state. We are not yet a strong state, however, and this creates both internal and external vulnerabilities. The Transnistrian conflict is still an open wound; our institutions are not solid enough; we have too much poverty and too few opportunities, and many choose to leave abroad. Considering this, it is necessary to step up investment into infrastructure, education and health care, but also [we need] a profound reform of how politics is done in Moldova – [we need] less scandal and more seriousness, and this means more measures that focus on people’s needs and on well-devised reforms. It’s this attitude that we are trying to promote in our work. Together with the Government and Parliament members, with our development partners from the EU, through the agreement that we are going to sign with the IMF, through key reform policies that we are implementing, we are working to strengthen our statehood and the social contract with the citizens of Moldova. And let me assure you, this is making us stronger and is consolidating our independence.
- Most respondents in a recent poll said they were proud of their country despite all adversities. Are you proud of Moldova?
Just like my fellow citizens, I am proud of our country, of the way it has managed to preserve its independence, dignity and freedom, of the way it’s been able to take its decisions independently and seek progress. As Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, I’d like to thank every citizen who has worked in one way or another so that our country can have a better present and a better future. I personally know many such people, and they inspire me in my Government work.
- You took over the office of prime minister during times of profound social, political and economic crisis. But Moldova is now celebrating its twenty-fifth Independence Day in a different atmosphere, or at least so it feels. What has changed from half a year ago? How did you do it?
I am glad that today Moldova lives its most stable moments in the last few years. I know it hasn’t been easy. I know that there are some people who, either ahead of or after the presidential elections, seek to reignite scandals and street protests because this is their only way to cater to their narrow interests. For them, it doesn’t matter how good the measures implemented by this Government are; they don’t care about the IMF agreement, about the fulfilled Roadmap and the approval of the external partners, about the resumed funding from Romania, or about the social measures making people’s lives easier. All they want is power at all costs, even at the cost of instability. I have one thing to tell them: gentlemen, you will not succeed!
We will continue with the same earnestness to carry out reforms, to implement the Association Agreement and to increase people’s living standards. We will go on and see to our chores, steering clear of partisan politics and governing with one single goal in mind – results. We want to make Moldova grow, to deliver on our commitments and to ensure that no one can reverse the European integration choice. We have both the will and capacity to deliver.
- Even if it’s not directly related to Independence Day, we feel compelled to ask you about the upcoming presidential elections, since it’s going to be the top issue on the public agenda in the coming months, and the outcomes of these elections will influence the course of the country in the coming years. Romania’s Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș, whom you met with a few days ago, and other Western officials as well, says that stability is very important, even during this electoral period, in order to continue the reforms. How do you see these elections from this perspective – will they affect the Government’s public business? How big is the risk that scenarios similar to those we had early this year will recur?
Stability is the foundation of any progress. What Prime Minister Cioloș has said is also stated by our partners in Washington and Brussels. Our external credibility, our European integration, the ability to create new jobs and attract foreign investment all depend on stability at the level of the Government and parliamentary majority. Let me assure you that we at the Government and in Parliament are united and are looking to fulfill our mandate until successful completion in 2018.
Following the elections in October-November, I’d like to see a President that is responsible and levelheaded, who understands the fundamental role of stability for the current context of our country. There is always a risk that some people, either autonomously or maneuvered by others, would seek to accomplish on the streets what they were unable to accomplish through election. But I know that the Moldovans are serious people and they won’t let themselves be deceived by carpetbaggers. People want concrete things and deeds, not circus. They’ve already had the occasion to see for themselves that only stability and a Government set to work can bring about higher incomes and lower prices. I place my confidence, therefore, in responsible politicians and in the wisdom of our people, who will not allow the country to slide back into chaos and instability.
- Twenty-five years into independence, Moldovan society is still divided along ethnic, linguistic and political lines. Do you think that Moldova needs a national project to bring together all its inhabitants? What should this project be like?
The need for a country project is one of the lessons learned from the past twenty-five years. This is why I, as Prime Minister, have constantly spoken about European integration as being our country project, that thing that gives us the motivation to unwaveringly follow the path of reforms and produce the change that people expect of us the politicians. We want to be in the EU because this means opportunities for our citizens, it means money for roads, schools and hospitals, it means enjoying direct support from the continent’s strongest countries. This is why we are calling on the people to rally around this fundamental goal. I believe that a respectable Moldova in Europe is a project that can heal the divisions currently existing in politics and in Moldovan society. I very much hope that the achievements of this Government will be able to convince even the most skeptical ones that we can succeed in our objectives.
Our only chance to achieve growth and decent living standards is through Europe. It is within our power to deliver on our commitments and take the place that we deserve.
- Mr. Prime Minister, more and more Moldovans are leaving the country saying that they cannot picture their future in Moldova and that they no longer believe anything will change. How do you see the future of our country? Do you think Moldova will succeed?
I most certainly do. If we take matters into our hands, we can become the champions rather than the victims of history. As I’ve been saying in the past few weeks, as long as we are stable, earnest and reform-oriented, we cannot but succeed.
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