Bishop Vaclav Maly calls on Czechs to support poorest nation in Europe


If we were to ask you what countries around the world are still under Communist rule, the most common answers would be China and Cuba. But did you know that the small Eastern European country of Moldova has been led by a Communist president for the past three years? Depending heavily on agriculture, imported energy and with an estimated 25% of working age Moldovans employed abroad, it is the poorest nation in Europe. Former dissident and Czech Bishop Vaclav Maly, the head of the Czech branch of the human rights organisation Iustitia et Pax, recently visited Moldova. After meeting with independent journalists, representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Church but also common citizens, he is now determined to persuade the rest of Europe, especially post-Communist Czechs, to come to the aid of their fellow European state.

"During the Communist period, many people from the West supported me and that was an encouragement for me and very important because I would have been otherwise isolated. Now, I am free and live in a democratic system and would therefore like to help others in Eastern Europe to feel this solidarity because it is a country where the communists still rule. It is isolated and forgotten by the European Union and it is therefore important to open its doors because it belongs to Europe."

How is it getting international help and how is the Czech Republic involved in it?

"The Czech Republic, I'm sorry to say, is not that much involved in Moldova. That is why I support the establishment of a Czech embassy in the capital because it is necessary to get to know the situation at the place and to speak to the people and develop certain initiatives - not only humanitarian but also political and economic - to emphasise the significance of economic and political help, co-operation etc."

What else will you do to show that the people of Moldova are not forgotten?

"I maintain contact between a Catholic magazine here and one in Moldova. There are people who are responsible citizens who really want a democratic system. Then there are crowds of manipulated people. We invited a few people to stay in this country and get to know our situation and broaden their opinion and their views."