By Iurie Leanca - 28th March 2013
It is true that [Moldova is] a major recipient of EU aid and support and it is right that people would wish to remain vigilant on how this is spent
Moldova has progressed towards becoming a modern European country, but remains realistic about the challenges it still faces, writes Iurie Leanca.
Moldova is a small country, with big ambitions. We have much to do and in many ways we have been left behind in comparison to other central European states. The support of the European Union and the dream of re-joining the European family is helping to galvanise reforms in our country which are changing lives in Moldova for the better.
We have recently completed negotiations with the European Union on an association agreement and deep and comprehensive free trade area. These arrangements will be good for Moldova, but they will also be good for EU citizens who will benefit from greater access to our goods and services and for EU businesses seeking to invest.
The changes necessary to meet European standards have dovetailed and supported our own domestic reforms. As a European commission progress report on the eastern partnership noted on March 20, we have made significant strides in improving citizens’ rights, health and education. There have been major reforms to our agriculture and, against a difficult backdrop, we have also managed to stabilise our economy, achieving cumulative GDP growth of 15 per cent over the last three years.
These reforms, also supported by the EU, will help Moldova become a better functioning state that will in the future fully contribute to European stability and prosperity. We have also put in place a robust system of transparency dictating how EU funds are spent and we work extremely closely with the European commission on these issues.
We remain realistic, however, about the challenges we face. Corruption, in particular, continues to blight our progress. In the last three years, we have risen 11 places in Transparency International’s corruption perception index, from 105 to 94. This is still unacceptable, but it shows that we are making progress and we remain determined to go further still.
It is true that we are a major recipient of EU aid and support and it is right that people would wish to remain vigilant on how this is spent. But much of this funding is allocated to roads, schools and infrastructure that is making a tangible difference to people’s lives.
With European Union support we are implementing the integrated border management system, which contributes to a strengthened migration control to the benefit of ours and the EU’s citizens.
It is important to note that, as recently as 2009, we faced civil unrest following disputed elections, but as Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, said in February, “I first visited the republic of Moldova in the period of street riots. Frankly speaking, I thought then that you were heading towards the future of a failed state. Now, Moldova is taking firm steps towards accession to the EU.”
We have come a long way in a short period of time and the support of the EU, both financial and moral, has, and is, playing a key role in our journey towards becoming a modern European country.
Iurie Leanca is deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and European integration for Moldova