Thank you very much. It makes me tired to hear my biography but no, thank you, that was very kind of you to go through it all. Indeed, I am someone who has made my career working in both government service and also in the think-tank world. Now I am an international civil servant working at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. But I do fully understand the importance of the non-governmental community, and I want to thank our NATO Liaison Office here for all the information you have provided. I mean, we have our new NATO Liaison Office, but the NATO office that has been providing in the NGO world for information over time – it’s been really wonderful having you here and we look forward to continuing to work with you. So thank you for helping to sponsor this session today.
It’s truly a privilege to take part in this conference, dedicated to cooperation between NATO and Moldova. Today, indeed, is a very special day. This morning, I had the honour of inaugurating the new NATO Liaison Office with Prime Minister Filip.
The Liaison Office will do many things, one of which will be to tell the story of NATO. It will explain who we are, what we do – and what we don’t do – and what practical steps we take to help the people of Moldova. Today I would like to take the opportunity to start that conversation with this audience.
NATO is an alliance of 29 democracies that hold fast to the values of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Our aim is to protect those values, and to keep our almost 1 billion citizens safe. We do that in many ways but, fundamentally, we do it through the principle of collective defence, or ‘all for one, and one for all’. It is a principle that has kept our people safe and free for almost 70 years.
That unity meant we were able to bring an end to the Cold War, end genocide in the Balkans, and help unite Eastern and Western Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Today, we continue to stand together against any country or organisation that would seek to undermine those values or do harm to our almost 1 billion citizens inside the 29-nation Alliance.
Importantly, we are an organisation based on consensus, not on majority rule. No single country can dominate our debates in Brussels or the decisions we make. No decision is made, no action is taken, unless all 29 countries are in agreement.
That is also the case when it comes to new members. If a country wishes to apply for membership to NATO, it is a decision for that country, and that country alone. There are no third-party vetoes, nor is there any pressure from NATO to join the Alliance. If a country makes that decision, then it is a matter for the 29 NATO Allies to decide if and when that country can join. Earlier this year, in fact in June of this year, Montenegro took that step and we welcomed Montenegro as the 29th member of our Alliance and believe me it was a thrilling day at NATO Headquarters when we raised the Montenegrin flag at the front of the Headquarters.
Similarly, if a country decides that it does not wish to join NATO, that’s fine too. Moldova has no desire to join NATO, and we respect that entirely. Moldova has chosen neutrality, and we support your neutrality. Indeed, our cooperation programme, mutually agreed by NATO and the Moldovan Government, explicitly affirms our respect for Moldova’s neutrality.
NATO has a very strong relationship with many neutral countries beyond Moldova: among them Austria, Finland, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. We also cooperate closely with countries that have strong relationships with Russia, countries such as Armenia and Kazakhstan.
Each partnership is unique, but they all share a common principle: that we respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all of our partners – large or small.
However, neutrality does not have to mean being inactive or indifferent, and it does not mean that we cannot work together. In fact, we do work together. Moldova has more than 40 personnel working for our KFOR mission in Kosovo. This not only gives your troops valuable, practical experience; it also shows that Moldova is a responsible contributor to international security.
Moldova has also supported United Nations missions in countries such as Liberia, South Sudan and the Ivory Coast, and OSCE missions in Tajikistan and Ukraine.
I want to commend every single one of your soldiers, those with the KFOR mission, those working with the UN and OSCE, and those who are here at home in Moldova. You should be proud of their professionalism and dedication which we see every day in working with them out in the field.
For almost a quarter of a century, NATO has worked with Moldova to help to improve your defence institutions and armed forces. But we are not only working with Moldova on issues limited to the defence sector. We are cooperating in areas that directly help the people of Moldova. There are many areas where we work together, but let me just tell you about a few of them.
Back in the 1970s, large quantities of fertilizers, pesticides and hazardous chemicals were used to maximise crop yields here in Moldova. These chemicals are now banned because they can pose a serious danger to people’s health. For years, these chemicals were stored in poor-quality facilities or buried without proper monitoring or security. In 2007, the government of Moldova asked for Ukraine’s help in dealing with these chemicals, and we were happy to help.
Since then, the chemicals have been found, collected and stored in safe places across the country. So far, almost 1,300 tonnes have been safely destroyed, and the rest should be properly disposed of by the end of next year, by the end of 2018.
Another area of growing concern is cyber-defence. The WannaCry cyber-attack earlier this year, which brought over 100,000 organisations to a halt around the world, underlined to the public the scale and potential dangers of cyber-attacks. NATO is now helping Moldova to become more resilient and to be able to withstand cyber-attacks.
Through our Science for Peace and Security programme, we have helped to establish a new e-Research and Education Laboratory for Cyber-Defence at the Moldova Technical University. This lab will serve the training needs of the Moldovan military as well as students at the university. And I hope that will really give a boost to your tech sector here in Moldova by building up a cadre of young experts who really understand the cyber-security world. It will enhance Moldova’s national cyber-defence capabilities and increase your expertise overall.
A third area where NATO is supporting Moldova is telemedicine. Telemedicine uses the latest technology to enable medical specialists to provide real-time support to civilian or military paramedics on the ground, from anywhere around the globe.
So if there has been a flood, an earthquake or a terrorist attack, local first responders - emergency response units - can get fast, accurate, expert advice from specialists elsewhere in the world with the potential to really help to save lives.
These are just three examples where NATO has been working closely together with Moldova. I could also have spoken about some other areas where we are building up our cooperation, and one that I really wanted to give a boost to is the work we are doing with the Ministry of Defence to implement UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and to reduce corruption.
Or how we have provided expert support to the ‘Alexandru cel Bun’ Military Academy to provide undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses for Moldova’s officers. We’re working on further courses now for more junior ranks, as well as working to solidify a doctoral programme, a PhD programme.
Again, these are just some of the many ways in which NATO is working to improve the lives of people here in Moldova already. We want to do more. We definitely want to do more. And the new NATO Liaison Office will help to further this cooperation.
As those who were there this morning will have reason to understand, our Office is a small diplomatic mission, staffed by civilians and focussed entirely on strengthening practical cooperation between Moldova and NATO, supporting your reforms and enhancing dialogue. We have similar offices in Georgia, in Russia, in Ukraine, at the United Nations in New York, and at the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe, which is headquartered in Vienna.
So I believe that our cooperation benefits NATO and it benefits Moldova. I very much look forward to our cooperation deepening in the years ahead, and I look forward to our conversation this afternoon.
Thank you very much for this opportunity, and I look forward to your questions. Thank you.
Moderator: Now let’s pass directly to the most cherished part of our presentation; questions and answers. I suppose this is very much expected by our colleagues and I have to say that we have a very important community of men and women in uniform here, also academia, people from the think tanks and media, but let me say that we will give privilege and preference to people not from the media this time, particularly from universities and from the organizations and from the institutions that have specific questions directly to the subject of our inauguration. And you have a very rare opportunity to direct your questions to the Deputy Secretary General of NATO and to the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. So, who is the first one? Please identify yourself and tell you your question.
Q: [Interpreted] Your excellency, Deputy Secretary General. On the 6th of December we had the meeting of the Cooperation Committee between NATO and Georgia. At this meeting a number of success concerning institutional reform in this country have been exercised including reform in the defence and security sector. At the same time Ministers of Foreign Affairs from NATO countries have emphasised and reiterated the message of NATO concerning withdrawal of Russian troops which are illegally on the territory of Georgia. We know that the Republic of Moldova has the same problem, illegal military presence of Russian Federation in Transnistria region. In this sense I would like to ask you how will NATO assist and is it going to assist Republic in Moldova in reiteration of the message concerning withdrawal of troops which are on the Territory of Moldova and you as a well known expert in non-proliferation and disarmament, what would you recommend to the authorities of Moldova to have those steps implemented? Thank you very much.
Rose Gottemoeller (NATO Deputy Secretary General): Thank you very much for that excellent question and I’ll begin to answer it by stressing one immutable fact, an immutable fact and that is that NATO stands for the rule of international law. And so at every opportunity we speak out very clearly, as I did yesterday at a lunch at the Foreign Ministerial for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. I spoke out at a lunch yesterday with Minister Lavrov and a number of other ministers including the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and also Moldova was there and I emphasized and underscored the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity. So NATO stands for the rule of law, we are constantly speaking out at the highest level about the necessity of countries abiding by those principles of international law because they benefit everyone. No country, no country benefits to have its borders challenged, to have questions raised about its sovereignty and therefore I, I challenge the perpetrators of problems such as we see around the world, you mentioned in Georgia and Moldova, I challenge them to recollect that international law benefits them as well. The predictability and the understanding that territorial integrity and sovereignty are for everybody, they are again immutable principles of international law.
So NATO will continue to stand for those, to speak out publicly, to speak out at a high level. Now you mentioned the two specific issues for this region, Moldova, Transnistria and Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia. Here there are particular diplomatic efforts in train, I commend the Government of Georgia for it’s constant and assiduous efforts to move forward in, in advancing the diplomatic efforts and in dealing with issues such as, we’ve just been discussing them recently, efforts by Russia to establish a border, border lines and that type of thing and to prevent the movement of people across those administrative areas in the occupied territories. It’s the same here, the government has an effort afoot, the so-called five plus two longstanding diplomatic processes where you just had meetings last week to try to address some of the issues and to move that process forward. NATO does not have a seat at those tables, we do not participate in those diplomatic efforts but we can certainly do everything we can to lend them support and particularly as I said it’s important that NATO always stand for the rule of international law and among our own members uphold those principles as an example internationally.
Moderator: Thank you very much. Let’s continue the questions. Please be specific and as quick as possible. Identify yourself, please wait for a couple of seconds.
Q: [Interpreted]: I have a question for Daniela Morari but first of all I do not understand why we need to talk so much about neutrality of the Republic of Moldova in the situation when Russian Federation occupies a part of our sovereign Territory. And my question is if Minister, does Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration intend to react to illegal and regular joint military exercises of Russian troops and paramilitary troops of the region? The most recent case was just a few days ago so anticipating [inaudible], so what is our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is going to do if Mr. Putin decides integration of the South Ossetia troops and the Russian troops will do the same about the Transnistria troops?
Daniela Morari [Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova]: [Interpreted]: Thank you for your question. I had an intuition you’d ask that. First of all I would like to tell you that the Ministry of External Affairs and European Integration is actively monitoring everything that’s going on and has a set attitude, a worrisome attitude towards all these actions. The Minister of External Affairs has always made statements and has taken positions in this respect and the latest being the declarations within OSCE this week and throughout this exercise as well. We are adept in what Madam Rose mentioned as to observing international norms and we address all actors who contribute to the observance of the international law inclusively in the Republic of Moldova. We count on the goodwill in terms of the five plus two format and all its actuaries, we hope they make steps forward and advance towards a true solution of the Transnistrian conflict.
In this respect I would like to make reference to the latest evolutions and namely the progress that has taken place where, when the [inaudible] breach has opened and such important elements as the Romanian Language Schools, the telecommunication sector progress and access of farmers to agricultural land. These are practical steps and proof of advancement, we are proactive in terms of messages, conveying messages at international level directed towards the retreat of troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, you are well aware of the actions we have taken in order to include this topic on the agenda of the UN General Assembly and we have done a lot of diplomatic effort in this direction and we do need a lot of support from the international community in order to succeed in this respect. As you very well know from the standpoint, the standpoint of the Minister of External Affairs is very categorical in, with respect to the retreat of the Russian troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova. You have witnessed all actions the government is trying to take in this respect.
Moderator: Let’s collect two questions this case.
Q: [Interpreted]: I have a question for Madame Gottemoeller. During the latest assembly, NATO Assembly, you have talked about the efforts of cooperation with the EU. I would like to know if the joint measures could include the eastern partnership countries or at least the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine? And the second question is regarding the plans of NATO regarding the combating of the Russian propaganda and also regarding the retroactive character of these actions is not always efficient, is it?
Q: [Interpreted]: I have a question to the Deputy Minister. Maybe she’s not the most versed in this respect but she’s the only one here. Now there is no policy, security policy framework adjusted to the current climate and namely I am talking about the national security strategy. At the end of 2016 the Mr. President [inaudible] according to a legal procedure has submitted to the parliament the draft of the national security strategy and for more than half a year this draft policy has been in the parliament and had not received a letter of advice on behalf of the government. President Dodon this summer has retracted this draft document and has underscored the fact that it had been written under the counselling of NATO experts which is false in my opinion, there was no reply on behalf of the government in this respect.
Now as I know it, a different policy document is being developed, again the government has no response to that and now several military men were being prepared for international missions and my question is the following. Are you talking about a detachment of 10 people for two days or the national security policy is also part of this plan? Now that strategy was regarding the current realties, the information and economical security of the country, therefore the government has hindered that, why had that document been hindered and why is it not being supported? Am I to understand that the government is supporting Mr. Dodon in this endeavour?
Rose Gottemoeller: There were two questions addressed to me by our colleague from the media. I’ll just answer very quickly. First of all yes we did have a Foreign Ministerial meeting, actually it was earlier this week, and one big deliverable from that Ministerial was further, further joint proposals between NATO and the EU in addition to the 42 joint proposals we had on the table from last year and we are in the course of implementing, we agreed an additional 32 for this Foreign Ministerial. Now we say we have enough proposals agreed we have to get on with the implementation. But there were three main priorities in these new projects that were agreed this week and they are the fight against terrorism, counter-terrorism, mobility across Europe including military mobility and finally women, peace and security. So these are three new priorities that NATO and the EU will be working on and I think they are very relevant to Moldova. There are other projects from the preceding year that are also relevant to Moldova. So the bottom line answer to your question is yes, the NATO EU agreements to work together and to develop our cooperation are very relevant to the eastern partnerships, very relevant to countries in this region and including Moldova.
And I see particular value for example for all countries across Europe and in the Euro Atlantic community, also my own country the United States, the fight against terrorism is, is a top priority for all governments now. So the degree to which the EU and NATO working together can enhance cooperation here in Moldova in the fight against terrorism I think it will be of benefit for you all. So that’s just one priority. I will mention my own particular interest in women, peace and security, the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325, I always say it’s not only because it’s the right thing to do, to bring more women into security policy and to work on security matters, it’s not only the right thing to do it’s also you know something that is, provides for more efficiency and effectiveness. Because if you’ve got 50 % of your talent base who happen to be women who are not engaged in trying to solve these problems then you’re missing out as a country. So we are quite committed in NATO and I know we are working on an action plan with Moldova on women, peace and security and look forward to continuing that.
You also asked me about strategic communications and counteracting propaganda. I just wanted to mention very briefly and to really emphasize that the NATO Liaison Office now opening will be I think an excellent platform for communicating and discussing and debating all about NATO here in Moldova. We’ve already had the excellent cooperation with the non-governmental community here and now we are expanding in a way with the establishment of the NATO Liaison Office, it’s a, it’s a real I think, it’s a really important tool for further transparency and conveying to the Moldovan population what NATO is all about. We always say, you know don’t count on second hand information, don’t count on information that could be skewed or treated propagandistically, come straight to the source and ask for the facts straight from the source. So I’m just saying for you here in Chisinau, here in Moldova, now you have the NATO Liaison Office here you can come straight to the source and ask for the facts and that I hope will help to deal with any misunderstandings about, about what NATO really is and what it really does. Thank you.
Daniela Morari: [Interpreted]. If I may briefly add in terms of strategic communication in the context of the governmental reform, we have had a lot of lessons learned, we have seen our drawback in terms of communication, we try to focus on strategic communications and to show the strategic communication task force will have a focal point within the Ministry of Interior, in this respect. We have a good relationship with the strategic communication department from NATO, from the Baltic countries, and I believe that it is very important to accompany any reform implementation effort with communication actions in small teams but bearing the correct messages and targeted towards the specific groups relevant to the subject addressed. In terms of the national security strategy it is true that we have not managed to approve it and it is indeed a very important document to the government and I agree that it is important to adopt a document with full content that would be responsive to the current situation of the country and that would be in tone with the other documents approved within the region. We have had a draft strategy that was very close to the approval of the global security strategy of the EU and it would have been inappropriate to come with a strategy that was not colligated with what has already been set out or coordinated at international level.
Therefore it was important for us to have an understanding of the latest trends within the partners we work with, the EU and so on, and NATO and others and therefore we are now working on this strategy in order to present it with a more updated content, a more qualitative one and as you very well know it is, has already been approved by the government, the National Defence Strategy I mean, it has already been approved by the government, it is also a document about most importantly its approval has taken up a lot of time and we are now expecting it to be approved by the parliament shortly and also there has been a long period for the approval of two laws. I made reference to the law on participation to crisis management missions and the law on restrictive measures. It has taken us more than four years to develop and approve this laws but this laws serve with the security dimension of course, it was [inaudible] strategy I can reiterate that it is a priority of the government and we are doing some hard work on this sector and I hope that we will manage a qualitative document in useful time.
Q: I would like very much to ask you one final question. How shall Moldovan citizens understand the term resilience and stability, democratic stability, what would be your advice in the coming years because of course the ball is in our field, we have to work harder in order to make institutions stronger, more confident and to have, to make our politicians more accountable. But how would you see resilience applied to the Moldovan State? And also this is valid for Daniela as well.
Rose Gottemoeller: Well as I understand Moldova has been tackling corruption in recent years, to my mind that is the greatest task to resolve, the greatest task that you are taking on in order to ensure the resilience of the Moldovan State over time, is to, to tackle the fight against corruption and to win. And in my view a lot of what we are doing with our NATO-Moldova cooperation can help with that problem because we have a very important program that we call Building Integrity and Building Integrity is about all kinds of very detailed work such as how do you train people to write contracts so that they are not subject to corrupt practices. How do you train accountants to understand when, is there a Moldovan expression for cooking the books?
When, when some accounting numbers have been fiddled with, yes. So how do you ensure that people who are exercising oversight are indeed exercising oversight and are not themselves engaging in corrupt practices. So there are some very, very basic and very I call them, again it’s a term in English, nitty gritty, but very pragmatic kinds of training and courses that we are undertaking with Moldovan colleagues in order to, to build that kind of integrity, particularly in the Ministry of Defence but we hope to work more broadly with security services and other institutions to build integrity and make it kind of second nature to, to everyone in the fight against corruption. To my mind that is an important role that NATO can play in helping to build Moldova’s resilience.
Daniela Morari: [Interpreted]: Thank you very much. Indeed, resilience. Well we could identify 2017 and 2016 in this sense. The, this word is used in the majority of speeches in this area, those who come from this area work with the subject, it’s very relevant for all countries in this century. We try to view resilience from different points of view, when we have framework, the platform, legal platform to understand and to act, when there are strong institutions capable to take action and to build the institution and to have capacity, particularly through the knowledge and capacities of the persons training. No matter what the mission is ultimately it’s all about working in those directions, consolidating the policy framework, legal framework, consolidate institutions to build capacities, to train those capacities. And here I would like to reiterate what Madame Deputy Secretary General has said, there is the horizontal component which concerns integrity and other components which are the backbone, the test that proves that we indeed are able to handle the threats which are typical for this period, for this area, for this context.
Moderator: I would like to thank you very much for your remarks and outstanding messages sent to the Moldovan people. Daniela I thank you very much for your speech. As our American friends say hope is not a strategy, we not only hope that this institution will play a very important role in the constitution of democratical society of Moldova, we really believe that it is an extremely necessary instrument for revitalizing the democratical society of Moldova, for acting with everyone that share the same values and of course we have important hopes that this institution will bring more capabilities inside of the Moldovan society, for creating a future that this country deserves.
Thank you very much for your speeches and we really are appreciative and are grateful for your efforts in inaugurating this centre, please.