Mihai Chirica, Mayor of Iași, who is currently on an official visit to the Capital, offered an exclusive interview for Publika TV.
Nicoleta Apostol: "Welcome to Chisinau Mr. Chirica and thank you for agreeing to do the interview, in which we will speak of relations between Chisinau and Iași, two cities that are in a friendly relations for over ten years, and what could Republic of Moldova's Capital learn from Iași's experience. First of all, I would like to inquire the purpose of today's visit to Chisinau? As we know, you have met with mayor of the Capital, Silvia Radu. What have you spoken of and what should citizens of Chisinau expect?
Mihai Chirica: "Yes, of course, it has been ten years since we cooperated. Blood is thicker than water. Today's visit is motivated by the fact that Iași participated in an international IT competition, where it won and wishes for our experience to be shared with Chisinau. I do not believe that we are teachers, but we learn from one another. Therefore, today's visit is for the cooperation for 2018, the cultural events we wish to launch, restoring the Art Academy from Chisinau, as well as in the economic field. We all know that for a stable economy we need well paid people. We wish to work together to bring this to Chisinau."
Nicoleta Apostol: "In what areas can we expect the next projects?"
Mihai Chirica: "I believe it will be in developing the business environment and urbanism. I said that we should support better the City Hall from Chisinau. Issuing easier the building permit, will greatly help develop the city. I also spoke with Minister Babuc, Minister of Education, about the possibility of students exchange, to have a common experience, what can be done here, and of course, in Romania."
Nicoleta Apostol: "Could you speak more about the modernization of the Art Academy? Will it be a financial assistance or something else?"
Mihai Chirica: "Yes, a financial support. You know very well that we make joint projects with the City Hall from Chisinau and we wish to launch some in the cultural field, as we said before, to save the heritage, especially in the area of health and education. Of course there will be other projects that might come from joint cooperation with companies that can invest in Iași and Chisinau. We will try to bring them here to see the possibilities in Republic of Moldova, especially in Chisinau."
Nicoleta Apostol: "Iași is currently being modernized. There are investments worth millions of euro. For example, last year, you bought 88 new buses and from what we know 11 new trams. At the same time, 20 streets were repaid. Chisinau had more modest achievements in this chapter. We would like to know what would you suggest to authorities from Chisinau?"
Mihai Chirica: "It is easy. Money are needed, but they lack everywhere, both in Chisinau and Iasi, as well as other cities. We took credits and purchased new buses, as well as gained some European funds. At the moment, Chisinau suffers, as well as whole of Moldova, because it is not an EU member state, but we hope it to become one soon and it will bring more money toward you. Much more than at the moment. Therefore, the recipe for success is simple. You need money. I am sure that some old projects might also be updated, but it also requires money."
Nicoleta Apostol: "What would you suggest authorities from Chisinau do to speed up the process?"
Mihai Chirica: "You need to continue on this path. I believe it to have a bright future. Of course it requires the support of local authorities, especially City Halls. And of course, an European track must be consistent. It is required and the politic class must understand that an European track is more favorable for Moldovan than, I don't know, being torn between two continents, as I believe it to be now. It requires stable politics, a vision even, to attract local authorities to go through with it."
Nicoleta Apostol: "Many of the investments we mentioned above are external. How did you manage to attract foreign investors to Iași? Could you name us the number of investors? Do you believe that Chisinau has what to offer to them?"
Mihai Chirica: "It has much to offer. First of all you must continue to fight again corruption. Despite corruption existing in the West as well, it is not profound as in this part of Europe. You must fight with all you can against corruption. You must keep your doors open for all authorities, and investors will be drawn here. An open door, a way to permanently communicate with them, lack of corruption and, of course, a legislation that favors them to invest in Romania, and of course, in Iași. There are many investments in Iași, both local and foreign. This helps in terms of salaries and standards of living. We know very well that many travel from Chisinau to Iasi, especially on weekends. It is a very favorable environment for this."
Nicoleta Apostol: "Could you tell us how many invested in Iasi until now, so that we can have a better understanding?"
Mihai Chirica: "It is hard to say. We, as local authorities, invest close to 50 million euro per year. The rest comes from the private sector, all in all hundreds of million of euro, which is very good. It means bigger salaries, jobs and possibly lesser migration than it is felt now in Moldova, which is very good."
Nicoleta Apostol: "From what we know many companies from Moldova opened branches in Iasi. Do you possibly know their numbers, fields of activity and when have you noticed that the process sped up?"
Mihai Chirica: "Around three years ago. You know very well that many restaurants that opened there are owned by investors from Moldova. They also often invest in real estate. They invest in textile production, many are from Republic of Moldova, but we expect others to join, especially in the IT field."
Nicoleta Apostol: "From what I understood Moldova has perspective in the IT field."
Mihai Chirica: "It does. People here are intelligent. Generally speaking, Moldova has a good spot in this area and can create a crucial industry for Republic of Moldova in IT."
Nicoleta Apostol: "The number of students that chose to go to Iasi is also growing. Do they have opportunities to find employment in Romanian companies? Because they have bigger competition and would they accept to work for a small salary?"
Mihai Chirica: "Everyone is paid accordingly to the abilities they have and, of course, the work they are doing. There are many opportunities, but I advise all students, with whom we often meet there, to not leave Romania and to not leave Moldova. Since Romania and Moldova are doing their best to prepare them, it would be great for them to work for Romania and Moldova, they do not have to leave for the West, let others use them, because they are our treasure. They have there opportunities, which I am sure will also appear in our country, in Moldova. I do not believe there are any obstacles in finding a job there. All those who wish to work will have no issues finding employment in Romania, but I repeat, they should not forget their roots, Republic of Moldova, because they are need at home."
Nicoleta Apostol: "An important company from Romania producing antibiotics is ready to establish an office in Chisinau, namely "Antibiotice Iași". Do you perhaps know of any other companies that wish to enter out market?"
Mihai Chirica: "Yes, I know companies which wish to come and do business in the IT area, reason why in April we will come here with them and do a joint seminar. We held a meeting today between Ministry of Education, Minister Babuc and City Hall from Iași and will come here again for them to see the opportunities to invest in Moldova. One of them is a big company called Conduent. It is an American enterprise, with a branch in Iași and it wishes to come to Republic of Moldova."
Nicoleta Apostol: "Does it already knows our market? Our opportunities?"
Mihai Chirica: "They already gathered information and know what they want to do. We will support them. I said that I will take them to Moldova, ensuring all the necessary conditions for them to seriously consider a project in Moldova, especially in Chisinau."
Nicoleta Apostol: "For how many years has this company been activating in Iasi?"
Mihai Chirica: "For over ten years and it is one of the biggest employer in Iasi at the moment, with around 1500 employees in an IT enterprise, which means a lot. Of course, we support its growth everywhere, where people speak Romanian, English and French. They seek such languages, and of course I will promote Republic of Moldova, because we are brothers and must support each other."
Nicoleta Apostol: "We thank you very much for this short interview and hope for you to visit Chisinau again."
Mihai Chirica: "It is always a pleasure. Thank you."