Dr Victor Tvircun is a teacher, historian, writer and researcher. A long-time diplomat, the Moldovan ambassador to Qatar sees diplomacy as the art of the possible, multiplied by experience, knowledge and intuition.
In an interview with Community, Dr Victor shared his experience of being a diplomat and views of being a researcher and writer.
Please tell us about your journey so far.
It will soon be 30 years since I got affiliated to the diplomatic work. However, I did not immediately set foot on the diplomatic path. My career was developing in a completely different area. I was born in the city of Chisinau, capital of Moldova. Since school, I dreamt of becoming a historian. This dream came true in 1980 after graduating from the Faculty of History and Law of the Chisinau State University. In the same year, I began teaching. In January 1988, I defended my thesis, and received the title of assistant professor. Until the beginning of the 90s, I had worked at the Chisinau State Pedagogical Institute as the head of department.
When Moldova gained independence and began developing state institutions, I was invited to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1993 till present, my life has been connected to diplomacy.
However, I did not part with scientific research. Throughout this time, I have published over 300 scientific works, including 24 books, and defended doctoral dissertations in pedagogy and history. All my successes and achievements would not have been possible without the main person in our family, my wife Lilia, who has always been there for me. No wonder it is always said that behind any successful man, stands a wise and unique woman. She has given me two wonderful children, my daughter Alexandra and son Anton.
How do you best define diplomacy? What are its basic tenets?
A wise person, speaking of diplomacy, gave it an excellent definition — calling it the art of the possible. I also share this view, however, would like to complete it. In my opinion, diplomacy is the art of the possible, multiplied by experience, knowledge and intuition. Like any other sphere of human activity, diplomacy is a living organism, which over the centuries has developed, improved, and modified.
Modern diplomacy is significantly different from the diplomacy, say of the 16th or 18th centuries, and even the first half of the 20th century. The principles of mutual respect and equality of partners in diplomatic relations, regardless of size, military-political and economic status of their countries, came to the front line. In this regard, I recall the ancient Chinese wisdom — one grain of rice can tip the scales. There is a mandatory consideration for the partner’s mutual interests, since diplomacy is a two-way road.
What has been your most challenging career assignment?
It seems to me that in diplomatic work, there are no secondary matters, simple or complex tasks. Sometimes a task or an assignment seems part of the routine, trivial, but in practice it grows into a big problem. In this regard, an example is the incident that happened to me in March of 2003. As I was fortunate enough to present my credential letters, as a non-resident ambassador, to His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Father Amir, and I had to fly to Riyadh to present my credentials to the king of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, at the same time began the hostilities against the regime of Saddam Hussein. All movements were blocked, air communications were interrupted. The simple flight from Doha to Riyadh turned out to be a big problem. It took me five different airlines to reach the destination. But the mission was fulfilled.
What are the other highlights of your career?
The most difficult situations have been that related to solving the problems of the citizens of Moldova, returning them to their homeland, providing services and assistance in distress situations.
What is your take on Qatar-Moldova relations? How many expats from your country are living here and what professions do they slot in?
Bilateral relations are very friendly with a beautiful perspective. We hope that soon many bilateral projects that we signed in various fields such as investments, culture, medicine, and education will materialise. We are also awaiting other agreements to be signed in the fields of visa exemption, double taxation and agriculture, which will facilitate the scope of this solid future co-operation.
The friendly and close relationship between our countries has manifested itself many times in the international arena, with Moldova supporting Qatar’s initiatives and candidature for elective bodies of international organisations. As a political and moral support for our friendly country, in August 2017, in Moldova was founded the Association of Moldova-Qatar called ‘Solidarity.’
At the same time, I want to mention that on May 26, 8.5 tonnes of medical assistance was provided by the Qatari brothers to Moldova, being the first ever humanitarian assistance by an Arab country to Moldova. The medical aid coming from His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Amir of Qatar, was directly used to save lives of thousands of Moldovan people.
To this day, according to official statistics of the Ministry of Interior, there are 162 Moldovan citizens residing in Qatar. Their professions vary from being engineers, professors, artists to hospitality industry workers. Also, a good part is proudly working for Qatar Airways. Few might know, but one expat that we are proud of is the chess master Victor Bologan, who is the head coach of the National Chess Team of Qatar.
Where does the bilateral trade currently stand and what are the potential areas for investment? In which areas Qatar can benefit from your country and vice versa?
Whilst having modest figures of bilateral trade, mainly consisting of exports of fresh fruits, organic meat and other agriculture produce, Qatar and Moldova have a huge potential to expand the bilateral trade.
Allow me to say that with existent potential and favourable legislation based on financial incentives, free economic zones and other facilitations for investments, Moldova can be of great interest in attracting Qatari investments. There are tremendous opportunities in the agricultural sector along with construction and education sectors. Another strong sector for investments is the IT communications, where many foreign companies make use of educated and skilled labour force available in Moldova.
Tourism is another sector where we believe Moldova has unique features; namely ecotourism and hunting, to offer to the Qatari people. Regarding ecotourism or rural tourism, this is an exceptional possibility to have the freshest eco-grown fruits, vegetables and juices in a relatively clean and untouched environment. Moldova also offers possibility for medical tourism through a variety of sanatoriums that have radon bath treatment type, perfectly suitable for cardiac and locomotor diseases.
What piece of advice you will give to a budding diplomat?
To love your homeland and respect the country and the people where you happen to work. It should be noted that the work of a diplomat is a constant work of self-education and self-improvement.
There should be goodwill and friendliness in communication with the people, who will eventually play an important role in solving many problems as well as win over interlocutors and partners. There should be honesty and decency along with the maintenance of self-esteem.
What do you do in your leisure?
Based on my own experience as well as the example of many of my colleague diplomats, I can say with confidence that there is not that much free time for leisure activities. Reading and analysing information, corresponding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other institutions of one’s own country and the country of residence occupy most of the time. The rest is dedicated to the study of culture, history, language and customs of the country and people where you work.
How would you describe your experience of living in Qatar?
Since my first visit in 2003, Qatar, its capital and people have become a part of my heart. I was fortunate to come to Doha many times in various positions. I was lucky to see the beautiful transformation of Doha. It gives me great pleasure to observe the care the municipality accords to increasing green areas, parks, ensuring cleanliness and attraction for its residents and guests.
What is that one lesson in life that has always held you in good stead?
It is being honest with people and God. Besides life and death, everything else is in your own hands.
What are your future plans, especially after retirement?
It has only been six months since I took the duties of the ambassador in Qatar. There is still a lot of time ahead to deepen and strengthen friendly ties between our countries.
Envoy hails Qatar’s signal role in Covid-19 fight and helping WHO
Coronavirus pandemic has become a serious phenomenon affecting all aspects of our usual life. I am certain that humanity will invest more in terms of prevention in order to achieve a stronger health security.
Qatar has been dealing with the pandemic in a professional, humanistic and realistic manner by exemplary organisation of medical and administrative measures.
Secondly, I would mention the unprecedented activity of providing humanitarian assistance to more than 20 countries of the world, including Moldova, and considerable financial support to international institutions in combating the pandemic such as the latest initiative to pledge 10$ million for WHO to step up global efforts against Covid-19.
All the actions of Qatar, as a whole, show a high degree of responsibility of the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Amir of Qatar, and that of all relevant Qatari authorities towards the residents of this country and also towards the fate and future of the world and humanity.
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