Moldova's new prime minister discusses the country's "renewed energy"

·5-min read

Natalia Gavrilița is the newly elected prime minister of Moldova's western-orientated government. The Harvard graduate and former Finance Minister is now tasked with the difficult job of stabilising Moldova's economy, fighting corruption and reducing poverty, all issues that have plagued one of Europe's poorest countries for many years. One of her aims and reforms is to bring Moldova closer to the European Union. In an exclusive interview, she told euronews about the country's ambitions.

You chose Brussels for your first foreign trip as Moldova's Prime Minister, what message did you bring to the European Union?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"Our message is that Moldova has a renewed energy, a renewed enthusiasm for fighting corruption, for improving institutions, for ensuring the rule of law, for ensuring economic stability and economic growth. In summary, for ensuring that we get closer to the European values, the European standards and the European way of life."

In the past, Moldova has hesitated between a Russian-orientated government and a Western-orientated government. Do you think that the current pro-Western wave will last and how will you make it last?”

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"We won in a landslide victory on a largely domestic agenda, not choosing between the East and the West, but rather choosing an improved life for the citizens of Moldova. So the citizens of Moldova are tired of governments who lie, of politicians who steal, of public services that do not work for the people, of decisions that do not take into account public interest. What they have said in these elections is that they want a government that they can trust. This means a government that takes decisions every day with the interests of the public in mind, not the interests of a few. So, you know, is this a pro-European or a pro-Russian agenda? This is actually a pro citizens agenda."

You want to fight corruption and transform the economy. How will you do that?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"We, of course, are starting with cleaning up institutions. Only several weeks ago, we stopped a large public acquisition that involved the siphoning of money. We are cleaning up leadership and state-owned enterprises. So we are stopping corruption within the government. At the same time, we are starting to work on legislation to improve the accountability in the judiciary, we improved the accountability of the prosecutor general on performance."

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, how are you intending to make the economy work better, to make it work for the people?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"So in the 30 years of instability and rampant corruption, the private sector has also become tainted by vested interests. So what we are looking to do is dramatically reduce barriers to entry. So we want to de-monopolise fields. We want to improve regulations so that it's easy for various companies to participate. We are looking at de-bureaucratisation for small and medium enterprises. We're looking at reforming the government's control function. And of course, we have stability for the next four years where the president, the parliament and the government are all working in the same direction. And we hope to use this opportunity to bring more investment in."

The fight against corruption is always risky. Do you feel safe? Do you think that your government has enough support to fight this battle?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"We have massive support from the people and this is what inspires us to move forward. I personally do feel safe because we are doing the right thing and I am sure that both our citizens and our partners will provide the best protection possible."

For the moment, the European Union is not ready for further enlargement. What are your thoughts on Moldova's prospects over the coming decades?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"I think that European enlargement and European integration is a process. So we know that we have to do our homework. We know that we have to dramatically improve the way that our institutions work. We have to improve our people's living standards. We need to make sure that these European-style reforms are irreversible and then we can talk about enlargement. But in the meantime, nothing is stopping us from cooperating much more profoundly in specific areas."

What could be the solution for the breakaway region of Transnistria?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"We are working on making the right bank of Moldova more attractive for people from the left bank of Moldova. So by improving institutions, by fighting corruption, we are actually helping reintegration by making it more attractive for people on the left bank. Second, you know, we believe in cleaning up some of the corruption schemes that existed between the right bank and the left bank. And it was basically a conflict that was also fuelled by, or rather remains possible, due to profits that were made by vested interests, both on the right and on the left bank of the river. So we are looking to curb corruption in this sphere as well."

Would you be ready to sit down with Russian leaders to talk about the issue of their military presence there?

Natalia Gavrilița, Prime minister of Moldova:

"We have always made it clear and this stance has not changed over the last 30 years, no matter who was in power, that, you know, we plead for the withdrawal of the Russian troops. We also want to hasten the resolution of armament that exists on the left bank, in the Cobasna region. So, of course, we declared in the campaign that we will have a balanced foreign policy-oriented, or focused, on the needs of the citizens. And we are ready to do whatever is necessary to protect the interest of our citizens and the public interest."

To watch the full interview, click on the media player above.

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