Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Moldovan President Maia Sandu at a Joint Press Availability

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Moldovan President Maia Sandu at a Joint Press Availability

PRESIDENT SANDU: (Via interpreter) Dear Secretary of State, dear Antony, welcome back to Chisinau.  Your visit of today reconfirms the excellent relationship between the Republic of Moldova and the United States of America, and this is a very strong sign of support for our country as well as for the path of peace, democracy, and prosperity that we have chosen.

Last time you visited us two years ago, that was in March 2022, when tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees were crossing our borders, looking for a shelter far from the Russian bombing.  You have been amongst the very first high-ranking officials which had visited Moldova back in those difficult moments, and you continued – you remained close to us ever since. 

Over this whole difficult period since the war had returned to our continent, we managed here in the Republic of Moldova to maintain peace, stability, the composed spirit, in spite of all the attempts of destabilization of the situation from the ones who wish evil to us.  We managed to achieve this also thanks to the fact that we are not alone, thanks to the support that we receive from the whole free and democratic world. 

Also, thanks to the support of the United States Government as well as of our other partners, we managed to offer some very good, adequate conditions to the Ukrainians, which refugeed to our country, as well as to the local communities which are housing them.  We managed to maintain the peace here at home.  Nevertheless, our citizens continue being strongly impacted by the negative effects of the war against the economy and the well-being of our country.  However, through unity, with the support of our partners, we can stay close to our people, and we can still move forwards.

Also, thanks to the financial American assistance worth $80 million in the first winter, we managed to compensate the energy bills of our citizens.  However, Moldova is not simply waiting to be assisted.  We rolled up our sleeves and we started working.  We managed to strengthen our energy – energy security, leading from a total dependence of the Russian power resources.  Today we are purchasing natural gas from several sources, including the ones of the United States.  This way we have more accessible and better options.

Besides, we did build some power capabilities which can connect us to the European network.  One of them is going to be financed exactly by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.  So, we continue investing into renewable energy sources.  Our purpose is to overcome the vulnerability in Moldova in this particular area to make sure that we have stable, accessible, and sustainable power sources.

Thanks to the American support through USAID, we modernize our agriculture.  We managed to upgrade the post-harvest infrastructure, while our fruit varieties have been aligned to the preferences of the market.  For example, the export of the Moldovan cherries on the European market increased 12 times only during one year – and that already brought something like $6.5 million to our economy.  The direct benefits of the American support are very obvious.

Thanks to an investment over one million leu, again financed by the USAID, over 250 associations of farmers will use energy generated by the new solar panels for the irrigation of over 2,000 hectares of agricultural land.  With the financing on behalf of the USAID, we managed to create a network of centers which are model of development for several innovative industries like the Mediacor, Artcor, Tekwill, NORTEK, and there is an upcoming one called GLIA where the Moldovan – young Moldovans can create, innovative, contribute to the economic progress of our country. 

Inclusively thanks to the American assistance, our wine industry managed to register a progress which is recognized at the world level.  The wines of the Republic of Moldova obtained a record number of medals at one of the most prestigious competitions in the whole world also this year.  Two hundred thousand Moldovans, they kept their revenues thanks to the progress in this particular area.

We managed to upgrade kindergartens, again with the assistance of our American partners.  For example, the kindergarten of Cricova (inaudible), or the one of Panasesti, or the one from a locality called Gura Galbenei – that means hundreds of children which are brought up in much better conditions now. 

The United States of America support us in our fight against corruption.  Yes indeed, that is a very difficult, long-lasting fight.  However, we are very determined to bring it to an end by sanctioning the ones who try to destabilize Moldova, who try to split up our people. 

Your country contributes to our own security and stability.  Thank you so much for the support, the constant support which the Government of the United States offer us, as well as all American people.  As a matter of fact, this way you support us in achieving our dream – Moldova to become a land of guaranteed peace, freedom, well-being for everyone who works in honest manner.

Mr. Secretary, I know that you’ll fully agree with me.  We live now in times where the natural will of the people to live in freedom and in peace is heavily challenged by the adversaries of the democracy.  Our neighbors, our friends in Ukraine, pay an outrageous price on a daily basis, a price for a simple aspiration to be free.  Their brave fight is, in fact, a fight for our own freedom, the freedom of everyone, of all of us. 

Thank you so much for supporting Ukraine.  Through its resistance, Ukraine is protecting the peace here in Moldova, while the support offered by you to Ukraine means also support for the security of the Republic of Moldova.  Our neighbors, Ukraine, European Union, do need a strong and democratic Moldova, a Moldova which will be a very trustworthy partner, a contributor to the security instead of being a gray area.

In conclusion, I would insist to mention another area where our collaboration produce a visible outcome for Moldovans as well as for the guests of our country, the protection and rehabilitation of our cultural and touristic heritage.  Recently I visited the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Causeni, and I’ve been impressed by the way in which this ancient historical monument had been rehabilitated.  Thank you so much for helping us out, to take such good care of the really important places for our spirituality, for the traditions of the Republic of Moldova.  Over 60 rural guest houses had been developed, thanks to USAID.  Over 300 kilometers of touristic route had been developed and mapped while Moldova became one of the touristic destinations – a top touristic destinations for all those who are looking less known, less discovered itineraries.

The President Roosevelt used to say that what makes us a great nation is not what we have, but the way in which we use what we have.  And Moldova is, indeed, a very alive confirmation of those words, of those statements.  Moldova definitely succeeds to build upon our heritage, on our legacy a free and peaceful future, where every single citizen offered a chance of a fruitful life.  Thank you once again so much for the whole support offered to us as well as for long-lasting friendship.

Now we pass the floor to Mr. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, Madam President, thank you so much.  Thank you for (inaudible) important words.  Thank you for welcoming us back to Moldova.  It’s very good to be here.  And I have to say at the start how grateful we are for your leadership.  And I see this in so many other countries, too – an admiration for everything you’re doing in challenging times, challenging circumstances, to lead Moldova forward. 

Two years ago, when I was here, as you mentioned, we discussed how to build a vibrant, inclusive country, anchored in Europe, anchored in the West, living in peace, with Moldovans deciding their own future.  And despite the many challenges that you face, you’ve taken important, strong, concrete steps further down that path, in a direction that will create a strong, positive future for Moldovans – strengthening the energy sector; combatting corruption; beginning the process of acceding to the European Union. 

Here today, we want to continue to build on all the progress that you’ve made.  I’m glad that we’ll soon conclude negotiations for a new embassy compound here.  I think that, both symbolically and practically, reflects the depth of our relationship and provides a foundation with which to deepen it and to continue to move forward together. 

Now, what’s so powerful here is the deep and deep-rooted commitment to democracy and, again, to Moldovans deciding their own future, and this, in the face of bullying from Russia, of interference, efforts to spread misinformation, disinformation, weaponizing corruption, manufacturing anti-government protests – despite that, we’ve seen extraordinary resilience from Moldova’s leadership and especially from its people. 

The United States and many of our partners and your partners have deployed sanctions against those who are seeking to undermine Moldova’s democracy and, as important, we’ve also been working with many other countries to provide you the support that you need to continue to move the country forward. 

Just going back to February of 2022 following the Russian re-invasion of Ukraine, the United States has provided $774 million to strengthen Moldovan institutions, to build resilience, and to enable you to push back more effectively against destabilizing actions coming from Russia.  I mentioned already disinformation; some of the things that we’ve been working on together with you include training, providing analytical tools under a memorandum of understanding that we signed in October of last year.  We’re helping to harden Moldova against cyber attacks, supporting a cyber security academy to train a new generation of Moldovans in cyber security.  I think that will be to the benefit of the government but also the private sector, where the skills that they require will make them very attractive candidates for good jobs.  And then, of course, strengthening, bolstering a free media, and helping to support your efforts to clean up the justice system. 

Today I am announcing that we’ll be working with our Congress to provide an additional $50 million to further advance these efforts, from reforming the energy and agricultural sectors to pushing back further against disinformation.  That in turn will bolster the ability of Moldovans to resist Russian interference, to hold free and fair elections, to continue down the path to the European Union and Western integration, to create more economic opportunity.

We’re partnering closely to support economic and energy security.  The Russian attacks on the Ukrainian energy grid have exacerbated Moldova’s own energy challenges – raising electricity prices, hurting business and harming consumers.  The partnership that we have to reduce Moldova’s dependence on Russian energy, to enhance connectivity with Europe, to increase the use of renewables – all of that, is moving forward.  And we’ve seen you take remarkable steps in a short period of time to move away from this dependence. 

Over the last couple of years, we’ve provided about $110 million in direct budget support to help compensate for the fact that you have to deal with higher electricity prices.  A little later today I’ll have a chance to tour one of your main sub stations here.  And I’m happy to announce that we will also be dedicating $85 million – part of the $300 million USAID effort to support energy infrastructure – to help you enhance things like battery storage, as well as the high voltage transmission lines that we’ve already dedicated some funds to.  And that in turn will strengthen your energy resilience, strengthen your grid.  The gas corridor as well from Greece to Moldova will further help wean you off of Russian energy.

And all of this is also a shift to a more diversified economy.  Right now, 80 percent of Moldova’s exports go to Europe, the United States, to countries other than Russia.  And we want to now use some of the support that we’re giving to help you grow sectors for export, including the agricultural sector, the IT sector; and also to offer entrepreneurs training, investing in technology so that young people can have a future here in Moldova.

Finally, let me just say how grateful we are for the incredible solidarity that Moldova has shown to Ukraine in its hour of need.  Moldovans have firsthand experience with these challenges, and it’s why they’ve stood so strongly with the Ukrainian people.  Truly, a small country with a big heart – welcoming over a million Ukrainian refugees since the war began, giving them access to shelter, to jobs, to health care, to education; facilitating the shipment of Ukrainian grain and goods; training Ukrainian de-miners and border officials.  I think Moldovans are acutely aware that what happens in Ukraine matters not just to Ukrainians, but to Moldovans, too, and for that matter to people around the world – in Europe and well beyond because we know that if we allow this aggression against Ukraine to proceed with impunity, then would-be aggressors everywhere will believe it’s open season for them to commit aggression, and of course Russia would not stop at Ukraine.  That’s why we’ve been standing so strongly with Ukraine.  And I’m happy to get into more of that later, but I think we’re having a strong and very positive effect.

Madam President, when I was last here, you said – and I quote – “a stronger, more resilient Moldova can become a pole of stability, [a pole of] development in the region – a trustworthy partner as well as a stronghold of the free world.”  I think that the path that the people of Moldova are on is exactly that.  And I’m here to reaffirm, on behalf of President Biden and the United States, our commitment – the strong commitment of the United States to Moldova’s sovereignty and to Moldova’s success.  Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Dear colleagues, now we’ll have the session of questions and answers.  So, let’s start with colleagues of the American media.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Good evening.  Thank you for this opportunity.  Mr. Secretary, you just mentioned that Russia would not stop at Ukraine, so going to follow up on some of the things that have happened in recent days.  Of course there’s been the battlefield situation in Ukraine, there’s been the (inaudible) border demarcation of Estonia, the foreign influence law in Georgia.

To both of you, Madam President and Mr. Secretary, what’s the risk factor you now see from Russia?  Are you concerned about a more direct challenge to Moldova at this time?  And more specifically, Mr. Secretary, in recent days a number of leaders – President Macron, Chancellor Shultz, Secretary General Stoltenberg – have spoken about potentially letting Ukraine use Western arms to strike directly on Russian soil when Russia is directly targeting Ukraine.  You’ve been publicly reported to be the most forward-leaning senior American official to be pushing for that.  Do you think President Biden can be persuaded to agree on that?  Thank you. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Do you want me to start?  Thanks, Shaun.  So first, let’s focus on what we’re actually seeing in Ukraine, and not only where we are but where we’re going.  First, when it comes to the Russian offensive in the northeast directed at Kharkiv, taking advantage in part of the fact that the supplemental budget request the President made was so long delayed in its passage by our Congress, but happily now that budget request was passed, and not only was it passed – the actual arms equipment, support that comes with it is on the move and being delivered to Ukrainians. 

And we’re seeing that have a real effect, including in stabilizing the front and in clearly denying Putin what he was after, which is to try to take Kharkiv, to create at the very least massive flight from the city.  We do not see that happening.  On the contrary, I think what we see, again, is a stabilize – a stabilization of the front and a failure in terms of Putin’s objectives if it comes to taking Kharkiv or causing the flight of its citizens. 

And as we look forward to the weeks ahead and the months ahead, we now have 32 countries that have either completed or will soon complete bilateral security agreements with Ukraine.  And that will help ensure, over an extensive period of time, that Ukraine can develop a future force that can effectively deter aggression or deal with it if it comes anyway.  And you will see those come to conclusion in the coming weeks.  We’re heading to the NATO summit in the United States, where, without getting into the details – and I’ll be going to the foreign ministers meeting to help further prepare for that summit – I think you’ll see very strong deliverables, as we would call them, for Ukraine in terms of its further integration with NATO. 

You’re seeing, on the battlefield, the effect of different weapons systems that we and others have provided to Ukraine.  We’re working hard as well to make sure that we can find ways to access the sovereign assets of Russia that are now frozen primarily in Europe.  And there, again, I anticipate that in the coming weeks and months, certainly by the G7, we’ll see further steps in – in that direction.  We are working hard to deliver more air defenses to Ukraine, and I’m confident we’ll see progress in that area as well. 

It’s a long way of saying that in the coming weeks, in the coming months, I think you’re only going to see greater resilience coming from Ukrainians and all those who support Ukraine.  And if you project out over the next period of time, we are on the path to help ensure that Ukraine is a success, a country that stands strongly on its own feet militarily, economically, democratically.  And that’s the ultimate rebuke to Mr. Putin and it also tells him very clearly that he cannot and will not outlast Ukraine, outlast Ukraine’s supporters. 

So, I think that’s a reality, a trajectory that people should have well in mind and that should give them real confidence in the future.  And again, the support that I see and that will manifest itself among so many countries for Ukraine remains strong, remains resolute – matched only, or maybe even surpassed only by the resolve of the Ukrainian people themselves.  We’re committed to Ukraine succeeding as a country, we’re committed to Ukraine winning the war, and I think we’ve shown that through the support that we’ve provided, and many other countries have provided. 

We haven’t encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine, but Ukraine, as I’ve said before, has to make its own decisions about the best way to effectively defend itself.  We’re going to make sure that it has the equipment it needs to do that.  And another hallmark of our support for Ukraine over these now more than two years has been to adapt.  As the conditions have changed, as the battlefield has changed, as what Russia does has changed in terms of how it’s pursuing its aggression, escalation, we’ve adapted and adjusted too, and I’m confident we’ll continue to do that. 

PRESIDENT SANDU:  Given that we have presidential elections and (inaudible) EU integration, we expect to see more Russia’s interference, more attempts by Russia to interfere, and we already see it.  And this of course is disinformation, this is cyber threats, this is destabilization, this is using the criminal groups, the corrupt groups in Moldova to bring into Moldova Russian money, and then to use this money for the destabilization but also trying to bribe the elections.  We have seen what happened last year in the Gagauz autonomy, when Kremlin using dirty money managed to get control over the autonomy.  And now Kremlin is trying to use this group of people in the Gagauz autonomy to destabilize the country. 

So, we have seen, we have dealt with some of this attempts in the past.  We’ve managed to resist and to make our institutions more resilient.  But we do expect the situation to get more difficult in the next few months, given that we have elections.   

MODERATOR: (In Moldovan.) Olivia Gazis, CBS. 

QUESTION:  Thank you very much, Madam President, Mr. Secretary.  Just to be clear, Mr.  Secretary, when you say the U.S. will adapt and adjust to conditions on the battlefield in Ukraine, are you signaling a greater openness by the United States to allow Ukrainians to strike legitimate military Russian targets in Russia? 

And as the U.S. has hesitated about where the Ukrainians can strike, numerous credible reports say that the U.S. provided the very precision munitions that resulted in the deaths of dozens of innocent Palestinian civilians, including children, at that refugee camp outside of Rafah.  The NSM report that your department largely issued already assessed that Israel’s military is likely not doing all that it can to minimize civilian harm.  So, were American weapons used in Sunday’s strike?  And are you urging President Biden to reevaluate any U.S. weapons shipments to Israel in light of its recent actions in and around Rafah?

And if I may, sir, today Israel’s national security advisor said that the military offensive in Gaza would last at least through the end of this year.  Is that acceptable to your administration, to the Biden administration?

Madam President, the U.S. has been accused of moving too slowly to meet the urgent battlefield needs of Ukraine, even now apparently resisting calls by Kyiv and other Western allies to loosen conditions on where U.S. weapons can be used.  Meanwhile, this virtually unconditional support for Israel has prompted some of its allies to say the U.S. is evincing a double standard.  Do you see it that way?  And how confident are you in the reliability of American support for countries like yours, known to be in President Putin’s sites, now and after U.S. elections in November?  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, Olivia.  With regard to Ukraine, adapt and adjust means exactly that.  I think what you’ve seen over the last two-plus years is – as the nature of the battlefield has changed, as the locations, the means that Russia is employing have changed – we’ve adapted and adjusted to that, including, for example, by the different kinds of weapons systems that we and allies and partners have provided to Ukraine.  When this – before this started, before the Russian aggression, when we saw it coming, President Biden made sure, for example, in drawdowns that he did months before the Russian aggression, the Ukrainians had Stingers and Javelins, which were instrumental in making sure that they could ward off the effort to take Kyiv and erase the country from the map.  And at every step along the way, we’ve adapted and adjusted as necessary, and so that’s exactly what we’ll do going forward.  We’re always listening, we’re always learning, and we’re always making determinations about what’s necessary to make sure that Ukraine can effectively continue to defend itself.  And we’ll continue to do that.

With regard to Rafah, the incident a couple of days ago was horrific.  I don’t think anyone who has seen the images cannot be deeply affected by them just on a basic human level.  We have been very clear with Israel on the imperative in this instance, as in other instances, to immediately investigate and determine exactly what happened and why it happened – and if accountability is necessary, to make sure that there is accountability.  I can’t tell you as we meet here this evening what weapons were used or how they were used.  All of that needs to be the product of a deliberate but also fast investigation, and we’ll await the results.

I think we also know something else – we’ve heard from the Israelis, but again, absent a complete investigation, I can’t verify any of this – that small-diameter weapons were used in a targeted fashion to go after specific terrorist leaders of Hamas.  Again, I can’t vouch for that in this moment.  We have to see what the investigation shows.  But just assuming for a moment that that’s the case, that that’s what happened, I think we also see that even limited, focused, targeted attacks designed to deal with terrorists who’ve killed innocent civilians and are plotting to kill more – even those kind of operations can have terrible, horrific, unintended consequences.  And I think it’s very important in this moment, after Israel has had real success in helping to destroy Hamas’s capacity to repeat October 7th, which was a very appropriate and very righteous objective, it has to ask whether – and especially in the absence of a plan for the day after in Gaza – further incremental gains against Hamas, but gains that may not be durable in terms of Hamas’s defeat in the absence of a plan – how that stacks up against some of the, again, unintended but horrific consequences of military action in a place where the people you’re going after are so closely embedded with civilians. 

And I think this underscores the imperative of having a plan for the day after, because in the absence of a plan for the day after, there won’t be a day after.  And this is where we need to go.  And we need to get as quickly as possible a plan for the day after that does not leave Israel responsible for Gaza, which it says it does not want to be.  But if it is, it will simply have an enduring insurgency on its hands for as far as one can see into the future.  Or not – if not, Hamas will be left in charge, which is unacceptable. Or if not, we’ll have chaos, lawlessness, and a vacuum that eventually will be filled again by Hamas or maybe something, if it’s possible to imagine, even worse – jihadis.

So, I think the imperative, the urgency of having a clear plan, one that can actually help ensure the enduring defeat of Hamas – which is a shared objective and should be everyone’s objective – is urgent, is imperative, and a plan that accounts for security in Gaza, that accounts for governance in Gaza, and that accounts for rebuilding the lives of the Gazan people.

QUESTION:  Anything on conditions on weapons to Israel, sir, and then the duration of the offensive, as the National Security Advisor said?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Again, let me leave it at that.  And with regard to the remarks, I think what I’ve just said underscores, in our judgment, the urgency and importance of developing a plan that can actually produce the results that Israel, we, and so many others believe are necessary, which is the effective, durable defeat of Hamas.  And we’ve shared many ideas with Israel about how to do that in an effective and sustainable way.

PRESIDENT SANDU:  We do appreciate all the support that is provided to Ukraine by U.S. and by other countries.  We do see that Ukraine needs more support.  Ukraine didn’t start this war.  Ukraine is defending itself and Ukraine is defending Moldova, and we believe that Ukraine should be offered all the support it needs, not just to resist but also to win this war.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Now we’re going to pick up two questions from the Moldovan media.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) So good day.  Svetlana Gore from Moldova.  A question for Mr. Secretary of State.  Recently the Republic of Moldova and European Union signed a pact for the security and defense, through which they expect to protect the Republic of Moldova against the hybrid threats of the Russian Federation.  The question is:  Have the United States considered signing a similar pact with the Republic of Moldova?

Another question is:  If the power in Washington changes after the presidential elections, will that affect somehow the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine?

And for Ms. President Sandu, with your permit, will you request from the United States some guarantees of security for the Republic of Moldova, and under which conditions?  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  With regard to hybrid attacks, the Moldovan people are on the receiving end of those attacks on a regular basis.  Russia is trying to undermine Moldova, undermine its democratic institutions, undermining its ability to make decisions about its own future, using a whole variety of hybrid means.  And I think Moldova has done a remarkable job in countering many of those attacks in a very professional manner.  Much of the assistance that we’ve provided over the last two and a half years – about $775 million – has gone to helping Moldova build resilience against these kinds of attacks, and so I think we’re already engaged in a – whatever we want to call it – in a – in committed, sustained support for Moldova to do, among other things, effective resistance against these attacks.

Now, one of the other things that’s so important is sharing information about disinformation and misinformation, which is one of the most potent hybrid tools that Russia uses.  And that’s something that we are doing.  We have an agreement that we reached, a memorandum of understanding that allows us to do that – to both share the information, to make clear what we’re seeing, also to help Moldova develop even more tools, more effective tools to deal with misinformation, to deal with manipulation of information.  And this is something we discussed again just this evening. 

With regard to elections, I don’t do politics; I just do policy.  But what I can say is this: just take a look at Ukraine.  Yes, it was delayed, it should have gone more quickly, our supplemental, but when it passed it passed on an overwhelming bipartisan basis, both houses of our Congress – Senate and the House.  And if you look at public opinion surveys, you see strong enduring support for Ukraine, and more broadly for the United States playing a lead role in defending democracies when they’re under attack – when they’re under threat.  And I think that is very much where the American people are, and that’s where I believe they’ll remain.

PRESIDENT SANDU: (Via interpreter) Indeed, the Republic of Moldova has a strategic partnership with the United States.  Our whole collaboration takes place within this very framework.  At the same time, our cooperation is guided by the constitutional framework of the Republic of Moldova.  This is additionally to all those paths and interventions, which have been mentioned by the Secretary of State.  We have indeed a substantial cooperation in the field of defense, in the field of protection.  So, this cooperation started some years ago.  So, speaking about those elements of cooperation, we will continue exactly with those ones.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good evening, Mr. Secretary State, Ms. President.  I represent the Ziarul de Garda.  So, the ambassador of United States in the Republic of Moldova stated that currently you work on a more extended package of sanctions against the Moldovan oligarchs.  Can you elaborate what sort of sanctions you expect to see in the context where we can see that some of those pro-Russian oligarchs, which by the way are now exactly traveling in the Russian Federation, they’re included in the list of sanctions?  They still can promote their very propagandistic discourses using some American platforms like Meta.  They pay hundreds of thousand of dollars to those platforms.  Do you intend to intervene into that?  Do you intend to dwell with that? 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  It’s pretty straightforward.  We have used sanctions to go against those who seek or have tried to undermine Moldova’s democracy.  As we develop information necessary to support sanctions, we’ll continue to do just that.

PRESIDENT SANDU: (Via interpreter) The institutions in charge of digital information in the Republic of Moldova, they (inaudible) collecting this information, this intelligence, and they pass it over to the authorities in Washington.  And of course, the decision comes from Washington, depending upon the documentation and depending upon how elaborate those informations.  I’ve seen some decisions already in the past.  This element of cooperation is extremely important to our fight against corruption, especially in the context when the Republic of Moldova is now undergoing a full-fledged reform of all the institutions which are meant to combat corruption. 

We’re also in a full-fledged reform of the judiciary, and at this phase our institutions are not fully efficient yet or – let me say they’re not efficient to an extent to be capable to cope alone with these sort of issues.  Therefore, the support of the United States is very important in this context, especially since all issues related to corruption, they – they are crossing borders of all the countries.  This is where we need to find some joint solutions. 

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Excuse me, Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. Blinken, are there any ways through which the United States could step in in order to stop, in order to prevent Meta in promoting this sort of information, or rather disinformation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So, this is a question that’s – that’s very complicated and in some ways beyond my own jurisdiction and my own remit.  We always urge any of the social media platforms to make sure that they’re – that they’re applying their own rules, and most of them have the necessary rules – terms of service, as they’re called.  And so certainly we look and expect platforms to do just that.  And where it’s appropriate for us to share any information with them, of course we’ll do that.  But they act independently.  They make their own decisions.  And again, we hope and expect that they’ll follow their own rules, and if information is brought to them about the abuse of their platforms, that they’ll take necessary action.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Dear colleagues, our event is over.  Now we’ll invite the two officials to take a joint photo.

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