Despite the many challenges facing Moldova, including economic and political uncertainty, at least one member of parliament in the former Soviet republic remains optimistic about his country's future.
Valeriu Ghiletchi, Member of Moldovan Parliament
"One thing that makes me optimistic is the change that we saw last year," said Valeriu Ghiletchi. "I believe that this will lead the country into a new future," he said during a brief visit to the United States.
As Ghiletchi attests, 2009 was a challenging year. A pro-Western four-party coalition emerged, a coalition that includes includes Ghiletchi's Liberal Democratic Party.
Voters removed the Communist Party from power following mass demonstrations spurred by charges of fraud in an earlier election that year that had initially had kept the Communists in power.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but Ghiletchi says the coalition government would like change that.
"One of our priorities is to join the European Union," he said. "I don't know how long this will take, but there is a common sense among all people to be part of Europe, since we are in Europe."
Another significant problem is human trafficking. Moldova is a major country of origin for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Children in Moldova are also trafficked to neighboring countries for force labor.
The U.S. State Department has determined that Moldova has failed to make significant efforts to eliminate trafficking. It also reports the Moldovan government has failed to follow-up on allegations of officials complicit in trafficking.
"This is mainly due to the economic conditions we have in Moldova," Ghiletchi said. "If the government is able to improve the economy," he said, "I believe this will be one important factor to address this problem."
Ghiletchi said the coalition government is committed to address the problem. "If we address the corruption, less people will be trafficked,"he said.
Ghiletchi, also a pastor, is the current president of the European Baptist Convention.