Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be with you today to launch the Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova for the years 2021 to 2024.
This new Action Plan is a product of hard work and close co-operation between the Moldovan authorities and the Council of Europe.
And it is a clear statement of our joint intent.
It reflects our collective commitment to support your country, helping it meet common European standards, implement monitoring recommendations, and make best use of technical assistance.
It also builds on the progress that has already been made, not least through the previous Action Plan which came to an end last year.
A lot has been achieved.
Laws, institutions and practices of the Moldovan state have been changed and improved, to the benefit of Moldovan citizens.
For example, the office of the Ombudsperson has been strengthened, enshrined in the constitution, and raised to grade A status in the eyes of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights institutions;
The Equality Council has been reinforced, doing more to support those with disabilities and to counter discrimination;
And the probation service has become more efficient, offering the targeted support that helps people reintegrate into society, while medical units in prisons are now better equipped, meeting minimum international standards.
Added to this, I am especially pleased that the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence has been signed.
This treaty helps women to live their lives in the safety and security to which everyone is entitled.
And I hope that it will soon be ratified by the Moldovan authorities.
Indeed, capacity-building in light of that ratification is just one area covered in the new Action Plan.
It also sets out a route to further progress on a range of other key priorities.
These include heightening the effectiveness of the Human Rights Convention system at the national level.
Among other things, this will be achieved by increasing the use of alternatives to detention and the better implementation of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights.
Similarly, more will be done to guarantee the independence and efficiency of the justice system.
This will involve closer work with monitoring bodies, improvements to the national framework for fighting corruption in the judiciary and more dialogue between institutions in the judicial field.
Implementing GRECO’s recommendations will be key in this context.
We must also increase the authorities’ capacity to recover illegal assets and combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other corrupt and illegal practices.
This is essential not only to uphold our standards and values, but to support business and economic growth too.
There will also be further work on anti-discrimination, children’s rights, education for democratic citizenship, and improvements to electoral legislation and practice.
In each of these areas, work has already been carried out, and links forged with national institutions.
Now is the time to harness those relationships to make further progress still.
But the Action Plan looks to break new ground too:
Working with national partners such as the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection to ensure respect for social rights and human rights in the health sector;
Combatting drug use and illicit trafficking in both drugs and human beings;
Supporting mediation and reconciliation in criminal matters;
Improving the legal aid system;
And promoting local self-government that is open, accountable and responsive to those it serves.
So far, funding has been secured for nearly half of the Action Plan’s 14-million-euro cost.
Norway, the EU, Switzerland, Sweden, the USA, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the Fund to End Violence Against Children:
Each of these have contributed, and to each we give our thanks.
I hope that new donors will also come forward in due course to continue funding this important initiative.
It will further embed human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova, and we all very much look forward to seeing that happen.
I wish the greatest success to everyone involved.