Your Excellency, High Commissioner Gloria Gante,
Minister Jo Etienne Abela,
Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi,
Parliamentary Secretary Farrugia,
Let me begin by thanking Her Excellency High Commissioner Gante for hosting us here this evening, and for bringing us together to celebrate the 77th year anniversary of India’s Independence – a moment of great pride for Indians all across the world.
I want to convey heartfelt greetings to Your Excellency, the Indian Community in Malta and to the People of the Republic of India.
Seventy seven years ago, a new India was born as a free country after many years of foreign rule. Today, your country stands out as a proud nation of over 1.25 billion people and a major global player in almost every field.
Since 1965, the Republic of Malta and the Republic of India have fostered a strong bilateral friendship built on mutual respect and understanding.
The strength of our relationship is testament to our countries’ commitment to look at size and diversity, not as sources of divisions, but as strengths for unity and cooperation.
Irrespective of these differences, Malta and India are united by common values and by a long-standing commitment to promoting international peace and security.
Historically, the links between our countries dates further back than the formal establishment of diplomatic relations in 1965.
The first Indians in Malta trace their roots towards the end of the 19th century. They were well known for the excellent quality of the textiles they used to trade in. I still remember the Indian stores that used to sell some of the finest fabric and draperies in Valletta. They were almost household names, intrinsically tied to their products, affectionately referred to as ‘ħwienet tal-Indjani’.
Today, the ever growing and thriving Indian community in Malta continues to cultivate the strong and vibrant people-to-people links between our countries and takes it to levels never reached before.
The Indian community’s participation in the Maltese economy, including pharmaceuticals, IT and construction, and above all the caring professions, today contributes heavily towards our economy’s prosperity and steady growth.
Equally important is the mosaic of traditions and customs that you share with us which contributes in no small measure to our country’s rich cultural and demographic portfolio, which is becoming more and more multicultural.
All the members from the various local organisations I met throughout my Presidency always refer to the Indian community in Malta with the highest possible praise.
Our bilateral relations are also strengthened by the various high-level meetings that have over the past years paved the way for us to identify new areas of collaboration. I am confident that Malta and India will continue working towards intensifying synergies in other areas of mutual interest, such as cooperation on clean energy and connectivity.
As a European Union Member State, we look with optimism towards further collaboration with India as ties between the European Union and India continue to reach new heights. Although the goal of concluding negotiations on an EU-India Free Trade Agreement by the end of 2023 was not reached, Malta continues to encourage proactive and constructive engagement in the negotiations. The potential conclusion would undoubtedly contribute to the strengthening of ties and the promotion of shared economic prosperity between India and the EU.
I am also pleased to note that our relations continue to mature within other multilateral fora such as the United Nations and the Commonwealth.
I take this opportunity to commend India’s contributions to the overall Commonwealth budget and contributions to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, Commonwealth Youth Programme, Commonwealth Foundation and Commonwealth of Learning.
As a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group for the period 2022-2024 (CMAG), Malta is committed to continue its cooperation with India within the Commonwealth and the Ministerial Action Group to promote development and good governance.
It is my sincere hope that our countries will maintain this strong momentum as we approach the 60th year anniversary of our bilateral relations.
We look forward to celebrating and commemorating this important milestone in our time-tested friendship in a manner befitting its importance to both our countries.
Excellencies, dear friends,
We meet at a time of global upheaval and transformation. The level of world peace continues to shrink and diminish as tensions among countries remain extremely high.
As we struggle for solutions, innocent lives continue to be lost.
We are back with a devastating conflict on European soil and an unfolding daily tragedy in the Middle East. Not to forget the recent wars in Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere across the world.
Innocent civilians should never be the victims of armed conflict…and yet, they are the ones who consistently pay the ultimate price. Violence does nothing but instigate a vicious cycle of more violence, causing further misery, resentment, and human suffering.
Our climate is facing an existential challenge which continues to affect entire communities around the world, pushing them to the brink of collapse.
Equally alarming is the impact that the rise of sea level has on so many vulnerable small island nations, particularly in the Indo Pacific, who face the daunting prospect of becoming entirely submerged underwater.
Faced with this challenging reality around us, it becomes our task to address these problems effectively and bring about the necessary change.
As a neutral nation that harbours no self-centred ambitions, Malta’s commitment to actively promote dialogue and diplomacy has never wavered since it became an independent country in 1964.
We will continue pursuing this vocation with determination through our membership on the Security Council for the term 2023-2024.
We are proud to rise once again to the occasion and help avoid an unprecedented leadership vacuum in the world’s largest security organization.
It is a source of great satisfaction to see that our diplomatic credentials and hard work can bear positive results on the world stage.
However, we also understand that the ability to address global challenges cannot be measured by the success of one country alone.
We are aware that the nature of the challenges that lie ahead of us require a concerted effort – driven by a sustained cooperative spirit from all members of the international community.
Solutions lie in cooperation and skilful diplomacy, not through the muzzle of the gun.
As I conclude, I take this opportunity to once again reiterate that India will continue to find in Malta, a steadfast and reliable partner on all fronts.
Looking ahead, our task is to deepen our cooperation, widen the spectrum of our bilateral interests and expand further on our past successes.
May the relations between our countries continue to move ahead and evolve, from strength to strength – always reaching higher levels.
Excellency, distinguished guests, I invite you to raise your glasses for a toast, to the health of the President of the Republic of India, Her Excellency Droupadi Murmu and to the excellent relations between our countries.