Your Excellency, Ambassador Erdeniz Şen,
Speaker of the House of Representatives,
Honourable Ministers and Members of Parliament,
I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the people of the Republic of Türkiye as you celebrate and mark the beginning of the Century of Türkiye, the centennial since the founding of the Republic. Tonight’s occasion is made even more special by the fact that this is Ambassador Şen’s first National Day celebration as the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to the Republic of Malta.
As we gather here to celebrate together this historic milestone and the past and recent developments of your country, we also take a moment to reflect on the excellent ties that link our two countries together.
Malta and Türkiye enjoy friendly relations which are continuously reinforced through fruitful cooperation at different levels.
The multifaceted relations between our two countries have witnessed a steady growth since the establishment of diplomatic relations fifty-six years ago, characterised by goodwill, mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.
I note with great pleasure how our relationship has intensified further in recent years, with frequent visits and meetings at various levels, covering political, economic, educational, and cultural engagements.
In particular, I wish to recall my telephone conversation in March with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which served as a reiteration of the close friendship between Malta and Türkiye.
These exchanges are testament to the constant dialogue that endures between our two countries and mirror the ongoing collaboration on numerous fronts.
Over the past few years, we have also witnessed a healthy increase in trade exchanges.
It is indeed very encouraging to see the interest that investors from Türkiye have in Malta, particularly in the sectors concerning banking, insurance, maritime, construction, logistics, and ship registration.
There is, however, so much more potential in the many other commercial sectors that have up to now not yet been adequately exploited.
I encourage relevant stakeholders from both sides to identify other areas of collaboration.
In addition, the ever-increasing frequent exchanges at a grassroots level continue to serve as a conduit for building bridges of cooperation and mutual understanding between our countries.
Outbound and inbound tourism flows between Malta and Türkiye remain significant, further promoting people to people exchanges. This is facilitated by the excellent connectivity between Malta and Türkiye, with two daily direct flights between Malta and Istanbul.
I also note with satisfaction that there are several Turkish students studying the English language here in Malta.
These people-to-people contacts remain indispensable to foster dialogue, promote intercultural exchanges, and forge meaningful trust and mutual understanding.
As a European Union member State, Malta attaches great significance to the relationship between the EU and Türkiye. Malta believes that Türkiye continues to be a key partner of the European Union.
Our common priorities confirm the importance of our joint action, particularly within the current geopolitical context.
Malta looks forward to enhancing the positive, open, and constructive dialogue between Türkiye and the EU to address outstanding challenges in areas of shared interest.
In this spirit, we hope that our relations will continue to flourish in the years and decades to come, for the mutual benefit of our people.
Excellencies, dear friends,
We meet at a time of great uncertainty on the international stage.
We are currently faced with many political, economic, environmental, and societal challenges that are responsible for steering us off course from our avowed promise and moral duty to promote and sustain international peace and security.
The numerous conflicts that surround us, frozen or otherwise, come at a great cost.
The humanitarian consequences and human cost of senseless war continue to mount.
It is regrettable that, at times, the devastation caused by violent conflict is sometimes too easily, and conveniently, reduced to mere incomprehensible numbers and sheer statistics.
We need to keep in full view, the hundreds of thousands of dead, the millions of refugees and internally displaced, the destruction of infrastructure worth millions if not billions reduced to rubble, and the disease and the famine unleashed.
We must continually remind ourselves and the whole world that beyond these numbers, lies a devastating landscape of incalculable psychological human trauma and contamination of our collective memory.
History teaches us that these consequences of war and aggression have devastating impacts that will endure for generations to come.
This is what we are experiencing at the moment.
We were all deeply saddened and shocked by reports of the reprehensible attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians earlier this month which claimed unacceptable loss of life.
Israeli and Palestinian lives are all equally precious to us.
No peace can be achieved through violence.
We all know that violence only breeds further violence.
Only serious well intentioned peace talks, respecting time-honoured diplomatic negotiations and agreements, will lead to, and deliver peace and stability.
Meanwhile, the unjustified and deplorable war on Ukraine by Russia continues to pose an existential threat to the very values and principles that are enshrined in the UN Charter – making a mockery of it.
This war is also compounding already precarious realities for millions of people who are experiencing food and energy shortages. Essential and vital resources such as food and energy must never be used as instruments of war.
Closer to home, instability in the Mediterranean region is exacerbated by alarming numbers of irregular migration, organized crime, human trafficking, as well as emerging humanitarian consequences faced by countries being affected by climate change in the continent of Africa.
The agenda on the regional and international stage continues to deepen and widen, with newly emerging crises, being more serious and more devastating than the ones before. The suffering and displacement that these upheavals continue to cause will be carried on for generations to come – that is – unless we take immediate and decisive action.
As elected members of the United Nations Security Council for the term 2023-2024, Malta will continue to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in a meaningful manner.
We firmly believe that the inter-related relationship between stability, peace, and security, requires a coordinated approach built on mutual trust and dialogue; a dialogue which respects and acknowledges each side as equal partners and potential contributors towards a more sustainable future.
During these challenging times, the art and science of conflict resolution, peace-making and peace-keeping should be our most precious tools and mediation efforts must become our collective priority.
In this regard, I want to commend Türkiye for its role in securing the Black Sea Grain Deal and all its efforts for a peaceful solution to the Russian aggression on Ukraine.
I also want to congratulate Türkiye in taking up the Chairmanship of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) Steering Committee Group for 2023.
I hope that this dialogue will help us realise that it is only in unity that we find our strength and that together we can identify the best possible solutions related to mass migration.
Despite the grim picture of the reality around us, our determination to serve as catalysts for positive change remains unwavering.
We must refrain from indulging in cynical attitudes, self-pity, or despair.
I believe that given the needed determination, humanity possesses the powerful ability to adapt to and overcome almost any adverse conditions.
With each other’s help and support, our chances can only improve.
Besides, what other choice do we have than to work together and help each other to address our common threats and challenges?
We are all being rudely made aware of this reality when facing the negative effects of climate change or natural disasters.
We are all fellow passengers towards the future, on this sensitive planet.
Unfortunately, humans have not learned the lessons we should have learned from our past mistakes.
Let us then look together towards the future, without waiting for the it to be decided for us by others.
Let us cooperate so that we can reap the fruit of what we cultivate today.
In conclusion, Your Excellency, Ambassador Şen, Distinguished Guests, I invite you to raise your glasses and toast to the health of the President of the Republic of Türkiye, and to the historic bonds and long-lasting friendship that exists between our Peoples.