Your Excellency, High Commissioner Jenny Cartmill,
I want to start by expressing my gratitude to you High Commissioner for once again inviting us to celebrate with you Australia Day.
Relations between Malta and Australia need no introduction. They date far back farther than the formal establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1964. Malta’s ties with Australia can be traced originally to the 19th Century. Since then, Australia represented hope, new opportunities, and possibilities for many Maltese.
Notwithstanding the difficulties in travel, the long distance, the lack of means of communication and the differences in the way of life, many Maltese flourished in their adoptive home.
Their courage, tenacity, and hard work, which ultimately characterises the Maltese worker who decided to emigrate, have assisted in no small way to the easing of massive unemployment in Malta, especially in the devastating aftermath of World War II.
I want to take this occasion to salute the memory of many of those who were bold and courageous enough to take this step, most often out of necessity rather than choice. It is thanks to them that today we boast such a vibrant Maltese diaspora which has spread all over Australia and is now part and parcel of the Australian Community.
I am pleased that in our country, we also host a sizeable community of Australian nationals that have decided to settle and work here. I thank them for the contribution they are giving to our country.
Aside from this kinship, Malta and Australia enjoy excellent bilateral relations. Over the years, we have developed a political rapport which has resulted in many high-level exchanges and a robust corpus of agreements.
I therefore encourage investors from our respective countries to explore new avenues of cooperation. I am certain that today’s modern technological means outdo issues related to physical distance. We look forward to seeing such relationships grow in the future.
Your Excellency, Malta and Australia have built strong relationships beyond the bilateral level. Both are active members of the global community.
As you rightly referred, we are approaching the first anniversary since the military invasion of Russia in Ukraine. Like Australia, Malta maintains its unconditional support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Our neutrality does not imply indifference when witnessing direct attacks on shared principles and the deplorable loss of innocent civilian lives.
The war in Ukraine is a stark reminder that peace can never be taken for granted.
Diplomacy, multilateralism, and a quest for just peace are our tools and resolve for a fairer and peaceful world.
It is with this in mind, that Malta has embarked on its two-year mission as a United Nations Security Council Non-Permanent Member. Malta’s priority themes will focus on several key issues, including women, peace and security, children in armed conflict, climate and oceans and literacy.
It is not an easy feat.
Yet having the support of Australia and other likeminded states ensures the fulfilment of an agenda of peace.
Like Australia, Malta is a maritime country and we do share the same concerns with regards to the direct repercussions that climate change has on our oceans.
Whilst presiding over the UN Security Council next month, Malta will be organising a high-level open debate by the Security Council together with the Small Island Development States on ‘Sea-Level Rise and its Implications for International Peace and Security’ to raise awareness about this phenomenon.
Your Excellency, cooperation between Malta and Australia has also a regional dimension. Our countries have supported various initiatives within the Commonwealth and Malta is honoured to have been entrusted to become a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.
We also work actively within the ambit of the EU-Australia Framework Agreement which has entered into force a few months ago, the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Asia Europe Meeting, and the Asia-Europe Foundation. We now look forward for the conclusion of the EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement that would give further significant impetus to our ties.
I am confident that our outstanding relationship with Australia will continue to be strengthened in the future and I look forward to visiting your beautiful country and our Maltese Diaspora in the coming months.
In conclusion, Your Excellency High Commissioner Cartmill, Distinguished Guests, I invite you to raise your glasses and toast to Australia Day and to the special friendship that binds the People of Malta and Australia.