PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: Speech by the President of Malta on the occasion of the exchange of greetings with the Diplomatic Corps

Reference Number: PR180051, Press Release Issue Date: Jan 11, 2018
Honorable Minister
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Diplomatic Corps

It is my pleasure to welcome you, as the Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited to Malta. 

I would like to thank you for your presence at this traditional gathering, which permits us to exchange greetings and good wishes for the new year, which I sincerely hope will be peaceful and prosperous, for all humanity.

Let us begin our meeting by celebrating your many accomplishments, while also looking forward to further future endeavours, whereby you will do more to encourage further closeness, friendship and connections, between our respective authorities and our respective peoples.

Let me also express particular appreciation to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Alessandro D’Errico, for his courteous greetings on behalf of the entire Diplomatic Corps.

In the course of the past year, relations between the countries you represent and the Republic of Malta have been further consolidated, through a variety of initiatives, which have resulted in shared benefits for all our peoples.

Diplomatic relations between Malta and many of your countries have been further improved, over the past year, through many official exchanges between our respective authorities, including through my Outgoing State and Official Visits to some of your countries and incoming State and Official Visits by some Heads of State to Malta.

Official exchanges between our respective authorities are an important opportunity for dialogue, to further connect and share mutual interests, while also exchange opinions regarding mutual concerns.

On the other hand, my outgoing State and official visits, together with incoming State and official visits are all, an important opportunity, not only for our authorities, but even more so, for the social and business communities of our respective countries, to befriend one another and to form important sustainable collaborations and partnerships, which subsequently develop into tangible results, for the mutual enrichment of our respective peoples.

I augur that the year ahead will present additional opportunities for such development, in our respective relationship-building, to ensure that we can grow and prosper, together.

This spirit of friendship and collaboration, was central to the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which was a highlight for Malta during the first half of 2017. 

Another highlight to 2017, was the holding, for the very first time, of the 13th meeting of the Arraiolos Group, which brought together, 13 non-executive European heads of State, to Malta. 

I was and I am proud of my country’s continuous efforts, to keep essential topics, including the phenomenon of migration and the need to address poverty, through social inclusion, high on the European agenda, during both the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the 13th Meeting of the Arraiolos Group.

2017 was a positive year for Europe in many ways. A number of populist parties and candidates were defeated in important elections and the Eurozone economy continued to grow steadily. 

Furthermore, in 2017, the European Union celebrated its 60th anniversary since the signing of the Treaties of Rome, which laid the firm foundations for the European Union, as we know it today. 

The Union has also strengthened its external borders and has done much to secure multilateral commitments to increase cooperation in the areas of protection and defense.

However, it is clear that, both within Europe and further afield, there is still so much that needs to be done, for us to create a world in which each and every individual is free to live in the fullness of one’s dignity and with equitable access to prosperity.

Unfortunately, unresolved conflicts, taking place across the globe, and not excluding our respective regions, are threatening the spirit of peace, which is a fundamental pre-requisite for all forms of sustainable development and prosperity.

Let me mention the example of the continuing unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria, where more than 5.4 million people have fled, since the start of the conflict, most of them women and children, and another four hundred sixty-five thousand are reported to have died.

Neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey have struggled to cope with some of the largest numbers of refugees in recent history. I must commend those countries for their continuing commitment to be a beacon of hope for the millions of conflict-stricken communities.

Furthermore, the precarious relations between North Korea and the United States of America are having a far-reaching effect that cannot be ignored. 

As experienced diplomats, you know better than most, how essential it is, for us to keep healthy and respectful channels of communication and dialogue open, at all times.

Without such opportunities for dialogue, and a commitment to resolve our differences peacefully, and in an environment of mutual respect, there can be no hope for sustainable peace.

It is for this reason that I must also take this time to commend the initiatives undertaken by several countries, including France and Tunisia, to address the situation in Libya. 

By bringing together the diverse stakeholders in Libya, around one table, and encouraging opportunities for sharing and understanding, such efforts make an important contribution, towards resolving the Libyan conflict, and restoring the much-needed peace in our Mediterranean region.

Let me also highlight the tremendous difficulties taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean, as regards the conflict between Israel and Palestine. 

In this regard, I augur that all countries of goodwill will remain committed to respecting the two-state solution, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations. 

I would like to encourage you, in your important role as diplomats, to continue working together, to achieve peaceful solutions to present conflicts, while always respecting the dignity of all the affected communities.

It has always been, and I am confident that it shall always be, the mission of my country in the Mediterranean, to be a voice for peace and friendship. 

Furthermore, I am proud to note that, during the past year, the ongoing economic success, currently enjoyed by my country, has resulted in the implementation of strategies for effective social inclusion, including various achievements in civil liberties.

However, unfortunately, this period of time was marred by the horrendous murder, of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which caused great distress, to all people of goodwill.

Even though this brutal crime does not reflect the Maltese true spirit, which you know very well, as most of you live amongst us, it has unfortunately brought a dark cloud over my country.

I am convinced that, during this new year, Malta will continue to set new goals for the benefit of our people, particularly by strengthening essential processes of democratic participation. 

I also look forward to an intensive process of constitutional reform, where constitutional institutions are further empowered and reformed.

I believe that this coming year will also see Malta continuing to strengthen collaboration with our international neighbours and friends. In this way, we shall keep contributing to the vitality of our societies, and the prosperity of communities in all our countries.

One way in which this can be achieved is through processes of cultural diplomacy. I am pleased to note that Valletta’s term, as European Capital of Culture in 2018, will be an excellent opportunity for such examples of cultural diplomacy, whereby I look forward to seeing the participation, not only of the Maltese cultural sector, but also many representatives from other countries.

Hence, I would like to encourage you to promote the impressive cultural initiatives and projects realised by the Valletta 2018 Foundation, within your countries.

On concluding, let me once again pledge that Malta remains firmly resolved to keep working for peace, across our Mediterranean region and beyond. 

We will definitely continue to be a strong voice for respect and connection, to contribute towards the resolution of conflicts, and to ensure that potential divisions are not allowed to escalate.

On a European level, it is equally clear that Malta will keep providing leadership and collaborative action. 

Let me commend all those countries, represented here today, who are also doing their utmost to build sustainable peace, and to create a world which we will be proud to pass on, to our future generations.

Excellencies, I augur you all a peaceful and prosperous new year, and I look forward to the continuation of our important work together.

Thank you.