President Cassis discusses humanitarian situation with Moldovan President Sandu

Local news, 22.03.2022

On Tuesday, 22 March, President Ignazio Cassis met Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, and the prime minister, Natalia Gavrilița. This was the first visit to Moldova by a Swiss president. Besides acknowledging the two countries’ bilateral relations, the talks focused on refugee movements from Ukraine and the humanitarian situation.

President Cassis paid tribute to Moldova’s generous reception of refugees from Ukraine. The solidarity of the Moldovan people and the country's authorities with the people affected by the war deserves the highest recognition. "As a long-standing partner of Moldova, Switzerland will continue to support the country in this crisis," he underlined. In addition to the 80 million Swiss francs allocated by the Federal Council for humanitarian aid in Ukraine and the region, the president announced that Switzerland would be contributing an additional 2 million Swiss francs in financial emergency relief to help the Moldovan authorities shoulder the heavy burden of dealing with the crisis.

The high-level meetings also addressed the need for a coordinated Europe-wide approach to the refugee movements from Ukraine. Mr Cassis declared that Switzerland was ready to respond pragmatically and without bureaucracy to the major challenges currently being faced. During his visit, bilateral relations and the Swiss cooperation programme in Moldova were also discussed. The two countries maintain good contacts and Switzerland is now one of Moldova’s primary bilateral donors.

Diplomatic relations were established 30 years ago, immediately after the Republic of Moldova gained its independence. As the Swiss embassy in Kyiv is closed because of the war in Ukraine, some of the embassy staff responsible for Ukraine and Moldova will be temporarily relocated to Chișinău, as announced by Mr Cassis while in the Moldovan capital.   

Swiss health team in action

Switzerland is also helping on the ground, a Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) Rapid Response Team having been deployed to Moldova on 7 March. Fourteen SHA members are currently serving in the country. In a transit centre for refugees, which President Cassis and Prime Minister Gavrilița visited together on Tuesday, a Swiss health team including a paediatrician, a midwife and a nurse is helping to provide basic care for mothers and their children from Ukraine.

President Cassis also took the opportunity to talk to the cooperation office team to learn more about Switzerland's support for the Moldovan health system. The Swiss delegation and President Sandu also visited a vocational training centre outside Chișinău where refugees are housed more permanently.

The visit to Moldova marked the end of Mr Cassis’ two-day trip, which also included Poland. He was accompanied by National Council members Franz Grüter, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC-N), and Edith Graf-Litscher, member of the Security Policy Committee (SPC-N).