Joint press point

between NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the Prime Minister of Moldova, Pavel Filip

  • 08 Dec. 2017 -
  • |
  • Last updated 11-Dec-2017 09:39

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Filip, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome—the warmest welcome possible—to the opening of the brand new NATO Liaison Office here in Chisinau.  This is a moment of great pride for the NATO Alliance, and a clear sign of the importance that we place on our relationship with Moldova.

Today is the culmination of almost 25 years of partnership between Moldova and NATO.  The Liaison Office was built at the request of the Moldovan government to help drive our partnership, joining similar Liaison Offices in Kiev, Tbilisi, and Moscow.

Kristina Baleisyte, the head of the Office, has done an incredible job. All year long, she has been actively building on our partnership while also overseeing the construction and completing of this office space.  So thank you, Kristina, to you and your staff here in Chisinau.

Many people think that NATO is a military organisation. But that is too limited a view. NATO is a political-military organisation, and the political dimension of it is very important. This office will be staffed by civilians and will help support dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Moldova.  There will be no military staff, and as you can see, this is certainly not a military base.

The Office will facilitate our dialogue and provide advice, assistance and support to ongoing programmes, especially in the area of defence capacity building. These programmes are all requested by the Moldovan government.  It will also increase transparency about what NATO is and what NATO does here in Moldova. I hope that this will greatly increase the public’s understanding of our partnership.

Our partnership focussed on improving the lives of the Moldovan people.  We do not provide military equipment or arms; we share our expertise in a wide range of areas.  Here in Moldova, these include:

  • The destruction of land mines and hazardous chemicals, including banned pesticides.
  • The development of advanced telemedicine so that responders can get the best advice during emergency situations. 
  • Improving Moldova’s expertise and defences against cyber-attack.
  • And helping to improve governance, combat corruption, and boost the role of women in peace and security.

All these help to make Moldova a safer, more secure place.

NATO fully respects Moldova’s neutrality, independence and sovereignty.  NATO works with many neutral countries, including with Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as with countries with close relations with Russia, such as Armenia. 

Neutrality does not mean that we cannot be strong partners. Moldova makes an active contribution to NATO’s presence in Kosovo, and I thank you very much, Prime Minister, for that excellent contribution. We have been impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Moldovan armed forces, as well as the civilian members of the Ministry of Defence, who support us in KFOR.

Prime Minister, we welcome the progress you have made so far and we encourage your government to continue its democratic reforms: fighting corruption, strengthening the judiciary, and making sure your country will attract investment. 

We understand and respect the fact that Moldova does not want to join the NATO Alliance. Decisions about your own security arrangements are yours alone to make. We respect that entirely.

The partnership we have benefits NATO, and it benefits Moldova.  We thank you once again, and with the support of this new NATO Liaison Office I very much look forward to continuing the close and fruitful work between Moldova and NATO. 

Thank you very much.


MODERATOR: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

QUESTION: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

PAVEL FILIP (Prime Minister of Moldova): (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER (Deputy Secretary General of NATO): If I may add just a few words, and I thank you, Prime Minister, for mentioning the ceremony on the 4th of December. I heard about it, and I understand that this is the eighth rotation of Moldovan Armed Forces members going out to serve in KFOR. And I wanted to say again how much we do appreciate Moldova’s very now longstanding and consistent cooperation with us in KFOR in Kosovo, but also to say once again how much we have appreciated the contribution that the Moldovan Armed Forces have made. They have been very dedicated, very professional, and they have truly proven their worth to our efforts to bring stability and security to Kosovo. So thank you for that longstanding, very longstanding commitment by the Moldovan government to the contribution to KFOR.

Now in answer to your question, sir, I wanted to make two big points. One is that we have made a good start on issues that are of great concern, and I would say great worry, for the Moldovan public. The first is in the whole area of cyber security. The Prime Minister mentioned that. We have had good cooperation going on, including helping to build a system for cyber defence within the Ministry of Defence. That is a good step. It’s a solid step. But we need to look for ways that this benefits the wider Moldovan population. And so we have brought this work on cyber technology and cyber security into the education system here in Moldova with a program at the Technical University right down the road, I understand, that will help to educate Moldovan cyber experts to be able to handle some of these cyber security problems. And in that way we will benefit the broader Moldovan society. So that’s one kind of project we want to build on, we want to develop further.

Another great example in the education system I think is the way that we built up military professional education over the years in the military universities and academies here. I know that 350 have graduated so far from the programs for a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at the military educational institutions. We can now build on that, and in a very important way that again, takes it to the next level. We are developing a PhD program, a doctorate program, at the Military Academy, which will allow for high military education for the officer corps, for the general staff, and for those in the government system who wish to attain a higher level of military education and training, but also that that level of a doctorate, which can benefit wider professional performance.

So I think in answer to your question, we will want to build on some work that’s already been underway here in Moldova, but in a way that will benefit a broader community of the Moldovan population.

The third point I’ll make is that for the future, and we look to build on our cooperation and defence capacity building, but in the future we will look to what the Moldovan government sets as priorities, what we hear from the Ministry of Defence, what we hear from the other relevant ministries, and from the Prime Minister himself perhaps about what the priorities should be for the future of our defence capacity building cooperation here in Moldova. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

QUESTION: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

PAVEL FILIP: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: This is a problem that is common, not only to other partners of NATO but even some of the NATO allies, and that is that, truly, capabilities have to be acquired and old equipment has to be repaired. So the hardware has to be taken care of and modernized as well. That is why at the Wales Summit in 2014 the allies were asked to pledge that 20 per cent of the investment that they make in defence be devoted to what we call capacity building: acquiring new equipment, acquiring, really, the funds to maintain that equipment for its entire life cycle, from purchase through until it is decommissioned. Because you have to remember that a weapons program, if you buy anything from a tank to a small arms or light weapon, a rifle of some kind, it has to be maintained, and we call those life cycle costs. And so it is important I think here in Moldova, and this is one of the things we will be talking to Moldova about, as the Prime Minister indicated, is how to think about a defence budget share that is provided for acquiring new capacity, as well as for the other very necessary expenditures that have to be made to pay for personnel. And so those are just some of the issues that of course are part of our conversation with Moldova.

MODERATOR: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

QUESTION: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

PAVEL FILIP: (Speaks in a foreign language without interpretation)

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: If I could just add one word on this, I’ve already said what I needed to say, but you know, Moldova has been associated with NATO since the Partnership for Peace, practically, was established in 1994. And I well remember that day. I was working for President Clinton at that time. I was at the headquarters of NATO. I remember when the Moldovan team first arrived to participate in Partnership for Peace 25 years ago. And never in all that time has NATO said anything except that we totally respect the constitutional neutrality of Moldova. As the Prime Minister said, it is inserted into legal documents that underpin our relationship. And so it is very clear from the perspective of NATO. Also there is absolutely no difficulty from our perspective. We have many, many partners who are constitutionally neutral. Finland is an excellent, excellent example of a country that works with NATO intensively. They are among our closest partners, cooperating in military exercises and training almost every day, and yet they maintain now. It’s their 100th birthday this week, as we’ve just been celebrating in Vienna with the OSCE meeting going on there this week as well. It is their 100th birthday, and throughout that time they have maintained their constitutional neutrality in every way they could, and NATO highly respects that.