Your Excellency, Dr Faisal Ghazi Almutairi,
It is with great pleasure that I join you for this special occasion. Celebrating the National Day of the State of Kuwait is not only an opportunity to commemorate the history of your country but is also a time to reconfirm our friendship and strengthen our diplomatic relations. I take the opportunity to thank the Ambassador, His Excellency Dr Faisal Ghazi Almutairi, for gathering us here today.
I note with satisfaction that relations between our respective countries continue to flourish and expand into stronger commercial, educational, and diplomatic opportunities. Establishing diplomatic relations in 1972, Malta benefitted extensively from the Kuwaiti Fund, directly contributing to our infrastructural and agricultural modernisation during that time. In the 1990s Malta collaborated more closely with the Kuwaiti people. In fact, the position taken by Malta during one of Kuwaiti’s darkest times, was instrumental to safeguard and promote, at an international level, the life and well-being of the people of Kuwait. These are historical snippets which might not resonate much with the young people of today. Nonetheless, they are a strong reminder of the misery caused by politics of aggression as opposed the establishment of respectful and peaceful diplomatic relations.
Sadly, in the year 2022 we have witnessed an aggressive and unprovoked invasion by Russia in Ukraine. The shocking images of destruction and misery faced by innocent men, women and children, have in no small part touched our hearts. Thousands of people have been escaping the country whilst many more stayed behind to fight and protect the sovereign rights of the Ukrainian people. Whilst occurring in different eras and by different political actors, I wish to emphasise the disastrous consequences of advancing war mongering policies and the sale of arms. The latter is of particular concern, especially when one looks at the consequences of arms spreading throughout the Southern Mediterranean and African region, particularly the proliferation of small and light weapons in the Sahel. Together with challenges posed by climate change and food insecurity, this area continues to provide fertile ground for the establishment of extremist groups and the corruption of public officials.
Denouncing human rights abuses committed during times of armed conflict should be at the heart of our diplomatic efforts and work. The devastating consequences caused by aggression on the health, social, education and economic sectors of the country, but also neighbouring states, should not be an accepted reality in the year 2023. A disruption in the availability of vital resources such as wheat and gas, together with the mass exodus of people, are a stark reminder of the centrality of advancing dialogue and non-military solutions to address political disputes and squabbles.
Malta is honoured and proud to have been given a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council and remains committed to advance a more humane and just world. Together with the other permanent and non-permanent members we aim to be a catalyst for positive change and prosperous development. In fact, our focus on climate change, women, peace and security, and children in armed conflict are testimony to my country’s vision of advancing a more just world for all.
We are therefore at an important crossroad in the international relations field. We can either choose to isolate our individual countries by adopting aggressive commercial and political tactics benefitting the interests of the most powerful states at the expense of smaller and poorer countries, or else, we can choose to rekindle the universal values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ensure that no one is left behind.
Without sounding pessimistic, I am confident that like-minded countries such as Malta and the State of Kuwait will continue to advance the universal values of tolerance and peace in our respective regions. I cannot fail to express my satisfaction at the close cooperation established with the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation. The establishment of a Chair for Peace collaboration with the Centre for the Study and Practices of Conflict Resolution of the University of Malta, is an excellent example of how two countries could advance principles of justice, peace, and sustainable development. I am pleased to note that earlier this year a public lecture was delivered by Dr Mohammad Sartawi from the Kuwait University and that a scholarship has also been established for prospective students interested in the study and practice of conflict resolution. Moreover, I am pleased to observe that cooperation with the Maltese Medical School has continued to develop further and each year a good number of Kuwaiti students enrol for a medicine and surgery program with the University of Malta. These are not only educational opportunities for our respective peoples, but are also testimony of the political trust and affinity between our respective countries.
This is an excellent example of the gradual building of people to people contacts between our two countries. This cooperation is also reflective of the broader political dialogue taking place between the European and the Gulf region. In fact, it is with great interest to observe that in May last year the European Commission issued a joint communication titled Strategic Partnerships with the Gulf. Focusing on six areas for enhanced cooperation, the communication includes also focusing on improved people to people contacts and institutional relations. Facilitating meaningful dialogue and exploring mutually beneficial opportunities, particularly for our younger generations, will remain a pivotal component in promoting enhanced Malta-Kuwaiti relations.
To conclude, I now invite you all to raise your glasses and toast in celebration of the national day of the State of Kuwait, to the health of His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to the people of Kuwait, to all of you here today, and to the continued friendship between our peoples.