Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gavrilita before their meeting

PRIME MINISTER GAVRILITA: Dear Secretary of State Blinken, welcome to Chisinau. I’m sure we all wish we had met under different circumstances and that your visit had been on a more positive occasion. Yet, precisely because our region has been plunged into war, it is all the more important that your visit be a sign of strong support not only for our efforts to deal with the massive influx of refugees and to help the Ukrainian people, but also to support our aspiration to be part of the free world.

We strongly condemn the act of war against Ukraine and fully support Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and call for the restoration of peace as soon as possible, first and foremost through diplomatic efforts.

We are firmly committed to helping those fleeing Ukraine. The government has implemented the most comprehensive humanitarian operation in the history of the Republic of Moldova. This morning we had more than 230,000 people who crossed the border from Ukraine and 120,000 remained in Moldova; 96,000 of them are Ukrainian citizens. For a small country like Moldova, this is proportionally a very large number and the management of such an influx has only been possible thanks to the extraordinary solidarity shown by each person, each company, each organization not governmental. Everyone came together to accommodate, shelter, feed and provide assistance to those fleeing the war.

But we will need help to deal with this influx, and we need it quickly and with flexible instruments. Unfortunately, this humanitarian crisis comes on top of the development challenges that Moldova already had, and it was facing global challenges like the pandemic, energy crisis and inflation. So we were already in double-digit inflation. This war will cost us not only in terms of humanitarian cost but economically, trade with Ukraine has been a very important part of our economy and we are seeing disruptions in transportation routes and we are seeing a global economic impact of this war.

We therefore count on your prompt and full support, as we have always had, and we are very grateful for the support that the US government has provided for the development of Moldova and to ensure the well-being of its citizens.

And finally, I just want to mention that we have – as we face these unprecedented circumstances, we are firmly on the road to European integration. We believe this is a program to transform Moldova into a modern and prosperous European state based on the fundamental values ​​of human rights and the rule of law. And we are committed to moving towards membership of the European Union. We submitted our application on March 3. And as we begin this journey, we know we can count on the friendship and strong support of the United States. Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Prime Minister, thank you very much. And indeed, you can count on this support at all levels.

Let me first say, as you so rightly noted, that this terrible unprovoked war of choice has, of course, profound consequences for the Ukrainian people, who suffer terribly from it while showing a extraordinary resilience, but it also has consequences beyond borders, including here in Moldova. We admire the generosity, the hospitality, the willingness to be such good friends to those in distress, and indeed, we want to do all we can to help you cope with the burden this imposes. But we are grateful.

As you have also noted, at a time when we all have so much to do to improve the lives of our citizens – dealing with what remains of COVID-19, advancing the economic recovery that affects everyone , taking up the challenge of climate change and transforming our economies to take it on board, so many things we need to do for our societies, for our people – the last thing anyone needed or wanted was a war, especially a totally unnecessary, totally unprovoked and, I fear, premeditated war. And so the consequences, as you point out, go beyond Ukraine. They even go beyond Ukraine’s neighbours. They are actually global because it impacts everything we actually do and should do. And like you, we want it to be completed as quickly as possible.

But in the meantime, we are ready to do everything we can to support the Ukrainian people, to support Ukraine’s neighbors who are defending the Ukrainian people and helping those who are in distress, those who are fleeing and, of course, continue to pressure on President Putin and his government to change course.

In the meantime, however, we are also very, very happy to work closely with you. I am indeed back in Moldova as this is my second visit here. I was here in 2016. It’s wonderful to be back. And it’s especially wonderful to be back because your story is so powerful and positive at the same time that we need powerful and positive stories. It’s the story of a democracy that emerges, grows stronger and takes root, and it’s something that I think inspires the world because it comes at a time when, for some years, democracies have been moving backwards instead of moving forward. You are the example of the opposite. You are showing us and you are showing the world how democracies can develop, grow stronger, and we are and will be your partner in this regard. So thank you for having us.