Your Excellency Peter Mišík, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia
Your Excellency, Ambassador Karla Wursterova,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
It is a pleasure for me to be with you today as we celebrate the National Day of the Slovak Republic. We are also coming together to celebrate the 30th Anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malta and the Slovak Republic back in 1993.
The realities of the world were very different back then. The Cold War together with the Iron Curtain that separated Europe, peoples and families in two, came to an end.
Europe became one once again.
Even though hailing from two rather different settings and regions, both Malta and the Slovak Republic sought the same opportunities that a united Europe promised and brought with it. The goal to become members of the European Union bonded us strongly for the past thirty years, during nineteen of which, Malta and the Slovak Republic worked hand in hand as sovereign Member States of the European Union.
We have matured in this role and eventually had the privilege to work together in the same trio together with the Netherlands, during our six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2016 and 2017.
I have very fond memories of my encounters with colleagues from both the Slovak Republic and the Netherlands whilst in my previous capacity as Foreign Minister of Malta. I held various and frequent exchanges with Miroslav Lajčák, now doing excellent work in the Western Balkans, Frans Timmermans and later Bert Koenders for the Netherlands.
I also had the pleasure of welcoming Her Excellency Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic for the first time in Malta last October. Last year, also for the first time, the Slovak Republic started forming part of the Informal Group of Non-Executive Presidents of the European Union, or as it is better known the Arraiolos Group. This was possible thanks to the request by the Slovak Republic to specifically join this prestigious cluster during the 2022 Malta Meeting. A request, which I had the pleasure to accede to, together with the other colleagues.
Together with other Heads of State of the European Union, we had the opportunity to discuss matters pertaining to the future of the European Union and its role in an ever intricate and fast changing global scenario.
Malta and the Slovak Republic have a mutual interest to safeguard the continued relevance of a rules-based international order. In this regard, Malta is committed to continue working closely with the Slovak Republic to ensure the development and further consolidation of long-lasting multilateral relationships.
To this effect, Malta’s aspiration to serve on the United Nations Security Council stemmed from our willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in a meaningful manner. We greatly value the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
The cruel, unprovoked and brutal war by Russia on Ukraine aimed at the strategic destruction of civilian infrastructure and disregard for human rights, constitutes cynical breaches of international law. These crimes must be stopped and perpetrators must brought to justice.
Malta continues to call for a negotiated solution.
Resolution through negotiations symbolises a corner stone of Malta’s foreign policy.
We must therefore continue to build the momentum towards securing the widest possible international support for President Zelensky’s 10-point Peace Plan. In light of this Malta will continue to use its seat on the United Nations Security Council to work with partners towards this end.
Together with our EU partners, we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, even when it comes to providing support to Ukraine to carry out the necessary reforms along its path towards EU accession.
The same needs to be said as regards the Western Balkan countries. Whilst at different stages in their accession negotiations, Malta believes that the whole region ultimately belongs within the European Union family. Membership of the Western Balkans in Europe would foster more stability and security in Europe and the Mediterranean. It deters unfavourable influence of third parties and paves the way for progress and development for the peoples of the region.
With reference to the Mediterranean, we also need to ensure that enough focus and energy is devoted to a region which is a source of many challenges. Whilst hosting some of the richest countries in resources, in culture and in history, the Mediterranean Sea is unfortunately a region of chronic political instability which impinges directly on the security and stability of Europe.
Migration along the central Mediterranean route increased significantly since 2020, putting even more pressure on our Southern Mediterranean, North African shores. This is a challenge that needs attention from the European Union as a whole and not only by the few frontline Member States. Not giving enough resources and attention to such occurrences from the southern flanks of Europe could be very dangerous and ultimately counterproductive. Malta for decades has maintained that there cannot be peace in Europe without peace in the Mediterranean and this remains as factual today as it was almost fifty years ago.
I would like to now address directly the Slovak Community here in Malta. Your economic, social and cultural contribution to our country’s economy is very much appreciated and valued. You add to our social fabric which is fast becoming more vivid and multicultural. You are also the very basis of people-to-people links between Malta and the Slovak Republic.
There is definitely scope and room for more growth for such exchanges. I note with pleasure that there is an increase in interest for tourism by our respective citizens. Trade flows remained stable even through pandemic times. I also fully encourage further cooperation at a cultural and educational level which brings our peoples closer together.
I invite you now to raise your glasses and toast to the health of Her Excellency Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic, and to the friendship between the People of Malta and the People of the Slovak Republic.