The President of the country took part at the International Conference „Demographic challenges of the Republic of Moldova: causes, effects and ways of addressing them based on international experience”.
The conference „Demographic challenges of the Republic of Moldova: causes, effects and ways of addressing them based on international experience” is organized on the initiative of the head of state in partnership with the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the Academy of Sciences of Moldova.
We offer the text of the speech of the President:
DEAR PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONFERENCE,
I would like to express my joy for the interest shown to the topic of this international forum and it makes me particularly pleased to talk about a very important issue for our society.
In my function as President of theRepublicofMoldova, I want to give you an overview of the situation in the country, to describe the main problems that affect us, in order for us to understand the origin of the demographic decline.
I have to confess, without any hesitation, that theRepublicofMoldovais facing a number of fundamental problems today. There is a collective guilt for this state of affairs.
The serious errors, committed by all, with some exceptions, governments, ruling the state since 1991 onwards, transformedMoldovainto the poorest and most depopulated state inEurope.
The chronic economic and social problems faced by the country have constantly fueled the skepticism of some of our citizens in relation with the forthcoming prospects of the state and the ability of Moldovan people for self-governing.
What is much worse - some political forces, as local, as from abroad have not hesitated to take advantage of the weakness of our country in the transition period. These forces are no longer camouflaged by false statements, and they have recently openly declared the intention to liquidate theRepublicofMoldova.
At the same time, the absolute majority of Moldovan citizens opt for the country's independence and sovereignty, however, they want to be convinced that this state will progress and will have a future to be proud of.
Therefore, people need encouragement and trust in the day of tomorrow.
Unfortunately, instead of encouragement, the Moldovan political class offered disappointments and delusions.
Some governors do not even know which the real concerns of the citizens are and what systemic dysfunctions the country is suffering. Therefore, it is most necessary for the experts to submit, in the shortest time, a real diagnosis of the situation in theRepublicofMoldova. In this sense, I rely on your contribution during the works of this international conference.
Now I would allow myself to describe my own vision of the things, the way I have understood them over the years of political, and later, presidential activity.
Both at meetings with citizens and as a result of the studies conducted by various teams of specialists, also based upon the sociological and economic statistics and forecasts we had access to, we identified the main areas that call for our attention and mobilization around common objectives, which I will present below.
It is obvious that today, the demographic situation in the Republic of Moldova is very alarming, while rescuing our people from decline and disintegration needs to become a concern and a top priority for the political class, but also for the academic environment and the civil society.
I draw your attention to the fact that we are ranking the top positions in the worst top of the world - countries losing their population at the highest speed, remaining with no population.
I consider that the demographic issue is the problem number one for our people.
All other problems can be solved and recovered in a few years or in several decades of work and effort. But how do we restore the composition of a population that is already destroyed or is self-destroying now through emigration, low birth rates and high mortality rates?
TheRepublicofMoldovahas lost about one million people in comparison with theMoldovanSovietSocialistRepublicat the end of the 1980s. And if we take into account our people abroad, who had left for studies or work, the figure of demographic losses amounts to almost two million. It is important to note that the exodus of the population is produced from the young population.
Practically there is an irrecoverable loss of brain, labor, and potential for growth.
Today, almost 2 times less children are born in theRepublicofMoldovacompared to 1991, and the trends for the future are even more worrying. If in 1991 the number of newborns exceeded the deaths by more than 26,000, nowadays the natural growth of the population is a negative one, with more deaths than births.
The kindergartens are closing, along with the schools and hospitals. There are villages where no child was born during one year. And many of the young children are raised in the absence of parents, without an educational base and the values of family life.
We all know that people are the real wealth of the country. Thus we lose this wealth, as well.
Some older forecasts announced that by the year 2050 the population of theRepublicofMoldovawould drop by more than one million people, meaning losing almost one third of the state's population. But if we look at more recent trends, it seems that the demographic loss of one million people will occur much earlier - in a decade or two. Perspectives are catastrophic.
These processes have a painful impact not only over our gene pool, but also over our economic capacity.
The number of employees in the real sector of the economy is lower than that of the pensioners, while the costs of the state apparatus are enormous. What shall we do in this situation? Shall we invite foreign immigrants to our country to maintain the economy and demographics? If we choose this solution, we will end up with a population of immigrants who, in a few decades, will become majorities at our home.
I think we need to mobilize our efforts to meet the demographic challenge. Rescuing the people ofMoldovamust be the fundamental mission of any government in Chisinau. It should also be the preoccupation of the academic environment and the civil society, who must permanently remind the governors of the danger of the demographic dissolution of the country.
All our socio-economic, educational, political, geopolitical actions must have as their main objective the demographic recovery of the population and the substantial diminution of the rate of emigration. Unless we preserve the integrity of our people, our state project may become useless in the long run.
It is clear that the demographic situation faced by the country is generated by the negative processes recorded in the main social-economic domains. We have not succeeded in building all these years a solid state of law in which citizens feel protected. We are far from having a society with genuine democracy.
From an economic point of view, we are still underdeveloped and the living level of the majority of citizens is very low. One of the causes is our chronic division, both in society, but especially in politics.
The country continues to be divided by different geopolitical vectors, which erode the ability of the society to strengthen its efforts to resolve stringent problems.
During my first year of office as the President of theRepublicofMoldova, I had a lot of meetings with the citizens and almost all of them confessed that they want to join efforts in order to get rid of the serious situation we were in. Citizens want all branches of the power to reach a common vision on some major goals, which I will briefly analyze further on.
First of all, most citizens want the consolidation of the statehood of the Republic of Moldova and the protection of the Moldovan identity. Especially on the background of challenges faced during this period by the Moldovan statehood.
It is a great luck, but also an enormous responsibility, to inherit a country, an independent state. Out of over 3,500 populations present today on the Earth, the Moldovan people enjoy the luck and pride of being among the 200 populations who have their own country.
In my quality of the President elected by the people, my political and constitutional duty is to guarantee and consolidate the statehood of theRepublicofMoldova, to assure the independence, sovereignty and integrity of this country. Likewise, the same duty lays on all other elected officials. This is a common goal, which should unite us in our actions of strengthening the statehood. This is the way it should happen, but unfortunately, it does not.
Many of you probably know that by presidential decree we declared the year 2018 – the Year of Lord Stephen the Great to underline our historical, state and identity continuity as a group of population since the medieval period.
I hoped to get the support of the Government and of numerous deputies in carrying out this year's actions related to the Moldovan statehood. But, regretfully, I noticed more interest on their behalf for the theme of union withRomania, than for the celebration of one of Moldovan statehood symbols. The Moldovan political class does not have the vocation to protect the state.
We lack a common and consolidated reaction against any unfriendly attempt to undermine the sovereignty and independence of the state. There is no long-term vision of the political class oriented towardsMoldova.
There is a lack of a national political consensus aimed at protecting and cultivating our Moldovan identity, including by responding, through the policies promoted by the authorities, to the will of the overwhelming majority of the population of theRepublicofMoldovain terms of national identity and spoken language.
Under such circumstances, citizens, and especially young people, are educated in the spirit of mistrust in the country's values. There is no respect for state authority. Young people are not convinced that this country has future and prospects. And the consequence of this way of treating the country is the tendency of young people to leaveMoldovaor to accept the union with the Romanian state.
The situation with the Rule of law and consolidated democracy is also bad.
Following an assessment of 8 key compliance factors,Moldovaranks 77 out of 113 countries in the "Rule of Law Index in 2015".
This unflattering position is more serious than the painful "outcome" of being the poorest country on the continent.
However, serious deficiencies in the functioning of justice and corruption in the upper echelons of power compromise any effort of the society to build a better life.
Various international reports show consistently that the corruption and the subordination of justice to politics remain the biggest problems in theRepublicofMoldova. In this context, I will mention that there are great outstanding debts at the following chapters:
• Removing the "reformed" justice from political influence, ensuring the rule of law and protection of citizens’ rights.
• The return of theConstitutional Courtto the constitutional area.
• Restoring the authority of justice and law of the country enforcement authorities to citizens, including through the elucidation of bank fraud in 2014.
• The fight against the systemic corruption from the higher echelons of state power.
• The demonopolization of media institutions and ensuring pluralism in the media.
• Organization of free and fair parliamentary elections, with results that reflect as accurately as possible the will of the citizens.
Another sensitive, chronic subject for Moldovais the lack of an independent, balanced foreign policy to the interest of the citizens.
The geopolitical interests of theRepublicofMoldovamust be subordinated to national interests, not to the political agenda imposed externally. At the same time, we are obliged to avoid hostile relationships with our strategic partners. We cannot make friends with some neighbors against other neighbors or partners, as it is used now. This policy is not only erroneous, but also profoundly anti-state, which can seriously affect and already did affect the economy and the integrity of our state.
I think we have to abandon the geopolitical struggle and set a moratorium on external integration to the West or the East.
The objective of the political class, at least for the next decade, must beMoldova, not one or another external project, be itRussiaorEurope.
Opinion polls show that more and more citizens are opting for this decision, stopping the policy of an external integration, and focusing on internal balance policy.
From the conflict zone,Moldovamust and can become a contact area for different countries, an area where the economic interests of our neighbors and partners will primarily interfere. Let us not forget that neither the favorable settlement of the Transnistrian conflict can occur outside the framework of the military and geopolitical neutrality of theRepublicofMoldova.
I therefore believe that our country should not be involved in any external military format, be it NATO or any other. And there must be no foreign troops in the country. The territorial reunification of the country, by de facto restoration of the Transnistrian region to the state, will only be achieved if Moldova maintains its neutrality and maintains good relations with the Russian Federation, not only with the Western countries.
A "Damocles' sword" in this case is also the delayed resolution of the Transnistrian conflict. Time works against us, as the shores of theDniesterRiver become more alienated.
The absence of a consolidated view of governors on a compromise model in solving this problem is the main impediment of reunification of the country.
Above, I have mentioned that Moldovacan be prosperous and can stop the demographic decline only if it sets itself as an absolute priority to ensure a decent life for its citizens. The only way to achieve this goal is to promote coherent and ambitious policies to ensure economic growth and working places in the country.
The dramatic decline in the economy caused by the bank fraud in 2014 cannot be compensated by annual increases of 3-4%. Such anemic dynamics means a slow death for the economy, but also for us as a society.
Therefore, the competitive economy is the basic condition for building a social statewhere the most vulnerable categories of people can live their lives according to accepted standards in the civilized world.
Unfortunately, for many of our fellow citizens, a decent life remains just an unrealizable dream, and this is the biggest deficiency of our state, but also an ungrateful duty of the political class.
Thus, we have serious debts at the following chapters:
• Ensure a comfortable level of social protection for citizens, by streamlining the pension system, the social assistance system, ensuring equity in the distribution of the means accumulated by our society for social support;
• Modernizing the health care system and ensuring the access of the population to medical services;
• Adjustment of state policies in the field of education to the current requirements of the economy.
It is quite obvious that if we do not ensure these economic, social and geopolitical conditions, we won't be able to motivate our citizens to remain in theRepublicofMoldova. People's emigration is a direct consequence of systemic bankruptcy in state administration.
I want to highlight another area of great sensitivity.
The Republicof Moldovais a polytechnic state; more than twenty ethnicities coexist on its territory, with different number of representatives. However, all these ethnicities are part of the Moldovan population. Starting from this polytechnic reality, it is natural to develop a common over- identity to represent us all as one nation.
As Moldovan, as Ukrainians, and Russians, and Gagauzians, and Bulgarians, and Roma, and Jews, and Poles and Belarus people, all ethnicities living in Moldova, in a Moldovan state, must be seen as part of a united and consolidated Moldovan civic nation.
The success of the Moldovan state lies in ensuring an interethnic harmony.
We also take into account that what unites most of Moldovan citizens is our Christian-Orthodox religion. Over 90% of Moldovan citizens declared themselves as Christians: in this broad religious category we find people of all ethnicities, of all political visions, of all ages and social strata.
The Christian-Orthodox religion is the foundation that ensures our cohesion as nation; therefore it must be wisely capitalized. I have the absolute conviction that thanks to religious values and Christian morals we can restore the institution of the traditional family to society. The only thing we need is a strategic approach to this, which I hope to launch this year, when the World Congress of Families will be organized under the aegis of the President of Moldova in Chisinau.
Finally, I would like to thank all the participants in this conference. I have briefly presented the basic issues our people are facing, including those from the political spectrum, so that you can understand the roots of the causes determining our citizens to lose hope in the well-being of this country and to emigrate.
TheRepublicofMoldovais on a dangerous slope today, in terms of economy, demography and territorial issues. Therefore, we need support and solutions. But before anything, we need a very honest acknowledgment of the real situation in the country. I hope that the works of this international conference will be echoed internally as well as externally, contributing to raising public awareness and mobilizing efforts to support the cause of theRepublicofMoldova.