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Moldova’s President Maia Sandu addresses the United Nations General Assembly. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Maia Sandu, the president of Moldova, spoke directly to families in her country, thanking them for “opening their homes and hearts” to millions of Ukraine refugees.

In remarks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Sandu said she represents a country that wants peace. She pointed out that Moldovan people speak a diverse range of languages — including Ukrainian and Russian — but “regardless of our ethnicity” or political preferences, “we all want peace.”

Sandu paid tribute to all Moldovan families who showed “unprecedented solidarity with refugees by opening their homes and hearts to those in need” during the war.

“I’m proud of my people,” she said.

Moldova, which has about 2.6 million people, sheltered more than half a million refugees fleeing the war. At its peak, Moldova’s population grew by 4% as Ukrainians crossed the border, the Moldovan president said. Sandu said about 800,000 refugees chose to stay in the country.

“It is our moral duty as an international community to continue supporting Ukraine,” the president said.

Sandu’s address comes as Moldova was granted European Union candidate status in June. During her remarks, she said is grateful for the support from member states and for the “recognition and vote of trust in our love for freedom” and democracy.

“By applying to join the European Union, we want the world to know we choose democracy over autocracy, liberty over oppression, peace over war, and prosperity over poverty,” Sandu said.

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