with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon.
Thank you very much.
President Dodon, welcome to NATO’s Headquarters. And thank you for the very intensive and positive discussion that we had today. The Secretary General regrets very much that he could not greet you today in person, but he is not feeling well today.
Nevertheless, he looks forward to future opportunities and also asked me to convey that NATO’s message here with regard to your country, to Moldova, is very clear. NATO respects the sovereignty of all nations. We firmly believe that every nation has the right to set its own course. To choose its own alliances. Or to choose not to align with anyone.
NATO fully respects Moldova’s constitutional neutrality. Our Individual Partnership Action Plan recognises that Moldova is constitutionally neutral and does not wish to join the NATO Alliance. This document is on the website of the Moldovan Foreign Ministry – so our cooperation is transparent to all.
But neutrality is not the same as isolation. And NATO works closely with other neutral countries – such as Switzerland and Austria.
Moldova is a close partner to NATO. And I appreciate Moldova’s contribution to our KFOR mission in Kosovo. This supports peace in the Western Balkans, it gives Moldovan troops valuable practical experience, and it shows that Moldova is a responsible contributor to international security.
Neutrality is built upon a foundation of strong institutions and good governance. NATO is helping Moldova in both areas.
We provide Moldovan civilian and military personnel with training and education to help fight corruption in the defence sector.
We helped Moldova to build a strong professional military education system, with Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees, and other professional courses.
So far, 350 Moldovans have graduated from these courses, and 275 Moldovans are currently enrolled in studies.
NATO is committed to improving the lives of ordinary Moldovan people. NATO has spent 4.5 million euros on destroying dangerous pesticides, anti-personnel mines, surplus munitions and dangerously stored rocket fuel.
Almost 1,300 Moldovans have attended NATO courses on topics including logistics, border security and emergency planning. And last year, NATO paid for a new cyber defence laboratory at the Technical University of Moldova, to provide training in cyber defence.
Many of these programmes are civilian and not military in nature. All of them help to make Moldova safer and more secure. And everything that NATO does has been requested by the government of Moldova.
This year, a new NATO Liaison Office will open in Chisinau. This is not a military base, but a small diplomatic mission staffed only by civilians. There will be no NATO troops in Moldova.
NATO has long had liaison offices of this kind in other partner countries, such as Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.
As requested by the Moldovan government, the Office will facilitate our support for Moldova’s ongoing reforms. It will also increase transparency about what NATO is and what it does with Moldova, which we think will be very interesting and we hope also beneficial to the Moldovan public.
Mr President, NATO fully supports a stable, secure and neutral Moldova. It is important that Moldova continues its democratic reforms – notably on fighting corruption and strengthening the judiciary.
And it is important that Moldova remains committed to the values shared by all European democracies.
So thank you again sir for coming here today. It’s a great honour to welcome you once again to the NATO Headquarters.
Moldova can count on the friendship of NATO. And now we look forward to hearing your remarks.
Q: Mr. President. I have a question to you. In 1991, 1992 you were 15 years old, when the Russian Federation having an army on your country took the international engagement to withdraw this army and 25 years after that the army was never withdrew and you are now the President of this country and you are now the Supreme Commander of the country and you are now speaking about neutrality of the country. What would you do to have a real neutral country? What would you do to make Russia to take out this army and to keep international commitments? The second part of my question is we have an other Russian army coming every day to each house of Moldovan citizens through tens of Russian TV stations, much more than needed and much more that any other country brings TV station and information to us and you and your party are part of this process, controlling and broadcasting a Russian TV station to Moldova. What as a president would you do for the informational security of your country? And third part of my question is you now are the president of the smallest, the poorest, the most vulnerable and very corrupt country in Europe and you and our country we are neighbours with the biggest, the most transparent military bloc in the world. How would you benefit from this neighbourship to make your country stronger, more transparent, less corrupt and richer? Thank you.
IGOR DODON (President of the Republic of Moldova): [Interpreted]. You can clap again, I’ll wait. Let’s start with the first or the third point, let’s start with the third point. Nobody will not make order in our country, will not fight corruption if we are not doing it. Representatives of so called independent mass media that you represent, you brought to the government corrupt politicians who are now in prison. You are the ones who gave that good reputation to all those democratic governments in the past that have stolen from the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, so that is why as citizens of this country will make war in our country.
Regarding the first point. I will do everything possible that the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state, should not, should not have troops from other states, doesn’t matter from which countries. That is why for this it is necessary to find a political solution to the Trandniestrian issue. I am firmly convinced that now we have a window of opportunity. It is not such a big window, two, two and a half years, three years to find a political settlement, but believe me as soon as we find a political solution the issue of Russian army in Moldovan territory will be solved.
And regarding the Russian TV stations broadcasting in Moldova. I’m not sure where you are staying here in Brussels but here in Brussels on TV I saw that they have Russian TV channels. That here in the centre of Europe, in the capital of the European Union are broadcasted freely, we do not have to impose to the citizens what to watch. It is not the issue of the propaganda that you so call it, the issue is within the country amongst the corrupt politicians. We should not hide after certain frustrations, behind certain frustrations that certain people have. That is why rest assured all the things will be resolved and we will fight for it. Thank you if you have other questions.
Q: [Interpreted]. Opening, so do I understand correctly the opening of the NATO Liaison Office will not take place? And the second question is whom will it bother from the external forces for this office not to be opened in Moldova?
IGOR DODON: [Interpreted]. I think that the opening of the NATO Liaison office in Chisinau is not beneficial to the majority of Russian, of Moldovans in my country. I do not care what others are saying from outside, I only care about neutrality and safety of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova. In my opinion opening this liaison office in Moldova will not ensure security of Moldovan citizens. This is my personal opinion and I express this issue. It is a provocation who, which was done by the governing coalition that did it before I became president regarding opening or not opening the liaison office, this is, this is of concern to NATO and the Government of the Republic of Moldova but in the eventual, if this NATO office will be opened in Moldova we will come back to this issue in the future and we’ll only take into consideration the opinion of Moldovan population.
Q: [Interpreted]. First of all I would like to know also the position of the NATO official, NATO representative regarding the opening or not opening of the liaison office in Chisinau. Also I have a question for Mr. President Dodon. Mr. President before coming here to Brussels you made a very good statement in Chisinau, you said that Moldova has to cooperate absolutely with everybody in the interest of the Republic of Moldova. In relation to this statement that you made, if a strong well trained army including with NATO expertise is or isn’t in the interest of the Republic of Moldova? And one addition, I wanted to ask you whether it’s true or not that you blocked this days the participants, participation of Moldovan army men at international military exercises organized within the framework of partnership for peace?
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER (NATO Deputy Security General): I will just reemphasise the points that I made in my opening remarks and that is that this year a new NATO Liaison Office will open in Chisinau. I want to underscore this is not a military base but a small diplomatic mission that will be staffed only by civilians, including by the way by Moldovan nationals. There will be no NATO troops in Moldova. NATO has long had liaison offices of this kind in several capitals including in Moscow, including in Kiev, including in Tbilisi. So this is from our perspective something that will be good for Moldova. For one thing we see it as an opportunity to really present a clear and a solid picture to the Moldovan public who may have some questions about the NATO alliance, may not understand exactly what NATO is all about. We see it as a good platform to provide good information to your public about what NATO is and what it is not. It is a defensive alliance and we are working with Moldova according to the priorities that your government extends and says you need help with, for example in the area of military education and training. And so that’s been a very, very successful area of our joint cooperation and we hope it will continue in an even more reemphasised and reinvigorated way going forward.
IGOR DODON: [Interpreted]. Regarding the two questions that you addressed. Yes I do consider that the Republic of Moldova should cooperate with everybody, absolutely, inclusive with NATO, including NATO and I mentioned this today that there have been certain programs that have beneficial for Republic of Moldova. For example the elimination of the pesticides et cetera but this does not mean that the presence of foreign soldiers on the territory of Republic of Moldova or participation of our youth, our soldiers in places where there are shootings and the war risks will be accepted by me. Yes these days I did not sign the detachment of a unit to participate in such an international exercise. First of all we need to appoint a Minister of Defence, a professional Minister of Defence and then see what we do next. There is such a request on my desk, I’ve asked additional arguments and tomorrow when I come back I will see what are the arguments to participate in certain exercises in Romania, probably you are referring to this one yes? I did not sign right now, after I get back to Chisinau I will determine whether I will sign the detachment of the military unit to this exercise or not.
Regarding cooperation I am not against cooperation with the west and with the east in the interest, as long as it is in the interest of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova.