President elect Maia Sandu addressed today, 8 December 2020, an opening speech at the 12th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, held online between 7-10 of December 2020, bringing together more than 300 CSOs and EaP and EU decision-makers to explore the contours of the EaP policy beyond 2020.
Distinguished guests and participants of the 12th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. It is my pleasure and honour to be invited to this event where more than 180 representatives of the civil society organisations and decision-makers from the EU member states and the six Eastern Partnership countries have gathered to reflect on the future of the Eastern Partnership Policy beyond 2020.
This year has been a difficult one for all of us, regardless, of where we come from. It is a test for our societies to work together to solve important challenges and processes that the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed. Without a doubt, we will still feel the societal and economic impact of the pandemic for years to come. At the same time, muddling through this health and economic crisis together is a step forward in making us more resilient people, stronger societies, a more prosperous region, and a more united Europe. That is because every crisis is also an opportunity that we can seize to reshape our future and build more trust. Our partners of the European Union have generously supported us with immediate assistance to counter the short and medium- term challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. I would like to thank you for your trust, solidarity, and substantial support to our society and people of Moldova.
Today, we are here to reflect on how we can work together in the next five years under a new Eastern Partnership policy, and a new set of deliverables for the next five years. We welcome the European Commission’s Joint Communication of March 2020, the European Council Conclusions of May of this year, and the results of the Eastern Partnership leaders’ meeting, which took place via video conference this June. We also look forward to the Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled to take place in spring of 2021.
The five long-term policy objectives proposed for endorsement at the next Eastern Partnership Summit will help us build together a more resilient Eastern Partnership, and a stronger Europe. Their implementation through a concrete set of deliverables will help us overcome many of the current challenges our societies and economies are struggling with, as well as pave the way to a more sustainable future for the generations to come.
During the last four years, the Republic of Moldova might have disappointed many of our international partners. As a result, we have become more isolated internationally. But under my presidential mandate, that the majority of Moldovans have entrusted me with, we will work tirelessly to change this. And we have already started. The Republic of Moldova is committed to improve its track record of democratic reforms. The fight against corruption, strengthening rule of law institutions, and decoupling private business interests from national interests are among the key priorities for our work in the next four years. We look forward to working towards a more resilient and fair society and economy, as well as strengthen our environmental and climate resilience. We also welcome stronger security cooperation with our European partners, which is key to our transformation and further democratization processes, anchored in our shared values.
Civil society actors play an important role in helping us achieve these goals. I welcome the efforts of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to empower our non-governmental organisations across the region to become actors with a stronger voice both in their respective capital and non-capital cities, as well as in Brussels. Your work and joint efforts have been invaluable when it comes to keeping institutions and politicians accountable, and we look forward to working with you more closely in the future as well.
To conclude, I would like to thank in particular, all Moldovan civil society organisations who have worked tirelessly this year, in the most difficult working conditions, to help increase the transparency of the government activities and support the dialogue between civil society and public authorities in these difficult times.
I wish you all a fruitful discussion and further debates on how we can work together to better address the challenges of 2021 and beyond, as well as to continue building a common European space of shared democracy, stability, and economic prosperity for a stronger Europe.