Your Excellency, Ambassador Kerem Kiratli,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and an honour for me to be here with you to celebrate the 99th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Türkiye. This month we are also celebrating the 55th Anniversary of the official establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between Malta and Türkiye.
Relations between our two countries over these years have always been strong and based on friendship and mutual respect.
The opening of resident Embassies in the respective capitals, Ankara and Malta, as well as the frequent and high-level exchanges, have contributed further to enhancing our relations and are living proof to the constant dialogue that exists at the political level.
This dialogue is also mirrored in the ongoing collaboration on numerous fronts. It is also reflected in the corpus of agreements that covers a wide range of bilateral interests.
People-to-people contacts are at the basis of our relations. A word of appreciation goes to all those who took the opportunity of making maximum use of the frameworks in place to enhance trade and tourism between our countries.
My gratitude also goes to all the Turkish citizens that have chosen to come to work and to study here in Malta. Your direct contribution to our islands socio-economic development is greatly valued.
I am certain that in the coming years, our relations will continue to be strengthened and developed further.
We are once again witnessing the sad, shocking and brutal reality of an unprovoked war on European soil. Innocent civilian lives have been disrupted. Millions had to flee or hide. Thousands were severely wounded or killed.
We are witnessing acts of extreme violence that we had promised ourselves not to let happen ever again. Especially against women and the more vulnerable members of society.
Following the end of the Second World War and the harsh realities it had brought with it, the International Community came together to create structures and rules that would ensure that each country’s integrity is valued in its own right irrespective of its wealth or size.
Malta has always maintained that differences between States should be addressed through dialogue, based on respect towards unity, recognition of territorial integrity, and acknowledgement of sovereign rights in line with International Law and international jurisprudence.
As civilized peoples we should encourage the de-escalation and diffusion of tension through constructive dialogue. This is achieved by maintaining open channels of communication and not through the muzzle of the gun. It is in the interest of Europe and that of the whole world that outstanding disputes of whatever nature, are settled peacefully in accordance with the rules of international law.
Good neighbourly relations should also be upheld as they are an important tool to peaceful resolution, regional stability and shared prosperity. In this regard, Türkiye’s leading role in facilitating the Black Sea Grain Initiative is to be lauded. It provided hope, not just as a tool for peace in the senseless war, but also for those countries around the world that depend on the exports from the region.
It is unfortunate, that just two days ago, Russia suspended its participation in this Initative. We augur that Türkiye’s efforts, will result in a sustainable solution. We also deeply regret the Russian attacks on Ukraine, including on the capital Kiev this morning.
Malta commends Türkiye for welcoming Ukrainian nationals who have fled the war in their country. Similarly, to Malta, Türkiye remains exposed to significant migratory pressure, particularly in view of its strategic location between the Middle East and South-Eastern Europe.
In fact, Malta appreciates Türkiye’s continued efforts to address its migration issues and recalls the importance of the 2016 EU-Türkiye Statement. It has proved to be an indispensable tool for migration management in that part of the world, producing tangible results whilst limiting as far as possible, further fatalities at sea. This agreement also supported Türkiye’s significant efforts in hosting migrants and refugees through the Facility for Refugees in Türkiye.
As a country also heavily affected by migration, Malta believes that the root causes of irregular migration should be addressed in a comprehensive and holistic manner. Our objective should be to mitigate or eliminate reasons for people moving, while sustaining economic and social development in countries of origin.
From both a regional and an international perspective, undoubtedly, Türkiye is a key partner of the EU in essential areas of joint interest. Malta welcomes the High-level dialogues and intensified engagement between the EU and Türkiye on issues such as counterterrorism, economy, trade, energy, food security and transport.
Türkiye has a very important role to play in the economic and political events presented by developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. The way to achieve peace, stability and security is through abiding by and showing full respect to international law and conventions.
Being elected to serve on the Security Council is a clear reflection that the principles and priorities that underpin both Malta’s foreign policy, as well as our successful Security Council bid, strongly resonated with the international community.
Serving on the Council provides Malta with yet a further opportunity to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in a meaningful manner.
As ardent supporters of multilateralism, we have a fundamental interest in maintaining the rules-based international order: one where might does not prevail over right. This is vital for the harmonious interaction and peaceful coexistence of all states be they large or small.
In conclusion, Your Excellency, Ambassador Kiratli, 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. And also to the health of the Ambassador, thanking him for the years of service that he has given to our two countries to make relations stand on a much firmer base and also taking them up to new heights.
Thank you very much.