President Rivlin met President Igor Dodon of Moldova. .
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Currently on his first visit to Israel – and the first by a Moldovan president in 14 years – President Igor Dodon met on Tuesday with President Reuven Rivlin and told him that Moldova would like to encourage roots trips back to Moldova by Jewish members of the Moldovan diaspora, many of who live in Israel.
He admitted, however, that the Moldovan diaspora also consists of many non-Jews and that Moldova’s migration problem is opposite to that of many countries in Europe. Instead of an influx of population, Moldova is on a demographic decline as its citizens opt for greener pastures, more lucrative job opportunities and a better quality of life.
When Moldova declared independence in 1991, said Dodon, the population was around 4.5 million. Since then some 1.5 Moldovan citizens have left and the population is now less than 3 million. If this dynamic does not change, he said, Moldova’s population in 10 years’ time will be less than two million. A third of Moldova’s population lives abroad, said Dodon, noting that 600,000 live in the Russian Federation.
Other than members of the Jewish community who have migrated to Israel, members of the Moldovan Diaspora in Israel include 10,000 Christian workers, who Rivlin said Israel was happy to welcome, not only because they are needed here, but also because they are temporary and have the intention of returning home and are not making efforts to stay in Israel permanently.
Aware that Moldova has strong ties with Iran, and that Dodon met with President Hassan Rouhani in August 2017, Rivlin spoke of the growing threat that Iran poses not only to Israel and the region but to the whole world. “We must not allow Iran to destabilize the region,” he said.
Relating to Iran’s support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, Rivlin declared that Israel must draw its redlines.
“We cannot allow a situation in which Iran supports Hezbollah
, which has 120,000 rockets pointed at Israel and endangering our existence,” he said. Iran says from every podium that it wants to bring down Israel and eradicate the Jewish state, Rivlin added. “They would like to control all the territory from Iran to the Mediterranean.”
Charging Dadon with being a message-bearer, Rivlin stated: “The Iranians have to understand that we will never allow them to get closer to our borders. It is very important that we do not allow Iran to destabilize the region.”
Moldova also has a strong relationship with the Palestinians, and here again Rivlin wanted the Moldovan president to deliver a message to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the effect that he must take care of the problem of Hamas having infiltrated into Judea and Samaria.
Dodon said he understood the complicated situation in the region. While strongly condemning all acts of terrorism in the region, he said he personally believed in a neutral policy and in being friendly with everyone.
“Small countries should have wise politics,” he said. “We cannot be part of the wider geopolitical framework.”
There are no exact figures for the size of the Jewish community of Moldova. The number varies depending on who is asked. It can be lower than 4,000 or as high as 20,000. Numbers aside, it is an active community, according to Dodon, which is in close and frequent contact with his office and enjoys the full support of the government,
In 2015, he said, Moldova passed a law recognizing and condemning the Holocaust