Ambassador Fabrizio Romano
It is my pleasure and honour to join you this evening to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the Italian Republic – a vital neighbour and partner to Malta.
Our two countries enjoy very strong, long-standing and historic bilateral relations.
Italy was one of the very first states with whom Malta established relations after attaining Independence in 1964.
The very deep ties we have had for decades have been founded on our geographical proximity, our shared interests, shared histories and evident cultural affinities.
Even more significantly, our special relationship is based on several convergent interests and common objectives as protagonists of Mediterranean diplomacy, and even so from 2004 onwards as active members of the European Union.
Over the years, this unique dynamic of our bilateral relations has reaped benefits and create opportunities for both countries and peoples in the political, economic and cultural fields.
Indeed, the extensive number of high-level visits and agreements reflect the exceptional bilateral relations that the two countries have established over the years.
Now that the COVID restrictions have been eased, we can look forward to a scenario where our bilateral relations and contacts should greatly benefit from a long-awaited boost.
I am sure that there will be no time lost on both sides to further enhance our contacts in every area of cooperation, foremost among which are business, trade, tourism and people to people contacts.
In this regard, I wish to acknowledge and salute the strong, long-standing presence in Malta of firms with Italian shareholding, which are active in the local industry, insurance, banking, investment services, and the maritime sector.
Their contribution over the years to the Maltese economy has greatly enabled the transformation of our economic infrastructure and vision, with the resulting growth and benefits being enjoyed by present and hopefully by future generations.
The same can be said of the vibrant cultural dimension of our relations.
Like business, this is an area of cooperation that has a life of its own and that needs very little additional motivation and impetus to keep maturing soundly, as it has done over the years.
Even during the worst period of the pandemic, our cultural contacts continued to thrive online, even if in a less exciting manner or in reduced numbers.
I find this very encouraging as it continues to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the visual arts, literature, performances, music, fora of discussions, and even cuisine, are unique vehicles of communication and mutual appreciation between our two peoples.
We are now at a very crucial turning point following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A significant number of flight connections between Malta and Italy have been re-introduced.
This will help greatly in ensuring a timely return to the traditionally excellent tourism figures, in both directions, especially during the coming summer months.
Apart from our immediate bilateral interests, our two countries share a very strong voice on Mediterranean issues that goes way beyond the confines of our immediate neighbourhood.
Malta’s Mediterranean vocation is well-known, and we have consistently sought over the years to prioritise Mediterranean affairs in the exercise of our foreign policy.
In focussing on Mediterranean matters in a European Union context and in other multilateral fora, Malta continues to find in Italy an indispensable partner.
In fulfilling this mission, we jointly promote a dialogue which also includes interested countries from the Mediterranean as well as regional organisations that seek to promote dialogue, such as the 5+5, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Med 7 formation.
Unfortunately, the issues to resolve together, and other impending issues, have proliferated over the years.
The Mediterranean Sea that binds us together as littoral states and peoples is often also the Sea that divides us.
In the several instances of conflict, political instability, economic hardship and social tensions, we have joined forces in calling, first of all, for greater attention to these problems by the international community, as well as the promotion of diplomacy as the main instrument towards resolution of these political issues.
The troubled situation in Libya, the need for stability, security and prosperity in North Africa, the unresolved multifaceted issue of irregular immigration, and the perennial impasse of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, all call for increased international awareness of developments in our shared Euro-Mediterranean region.
These are all issues which I had the pleasure of discussing with His Excellency President Sergio Mattarella during our meetings and exchanges.
I have always found comfort in my esteemed colleague’s reassurance that Italy continues to follow very closely all developments in the Mediterranean.
Our shared concerns now also take us directly East, as we enter the fourth month of the unprovoked and unjustified war by Russia in Ukraine.
I join in President Mattarella’s call for the cultivation and defence of European values and respect for the basic principles of international law, in the face of aggression and imposition.
I agree with the President when he recently stated at the University of Padova, that freedom is intrinsically linked to the values of equality and solidarity.
I very much look forward to holding my next meeting with President Mattarella here in Malta as I will be hosting him and other ‘Arraiolos’ Heads of State Meeting in Malta this October.
It is my intention for this Meeting to provide a good platform for discussions on the status of the European Union as a primary international actor – 65 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, as well as its role in combatting social injustice on the global level.
These coming months augur to be very active and eventful for the Presidency but also for the country itself, as we gear up to gain a non-Permanent Seat at the UN Security Council for the term 2023-2024.
At the Security Council, we can expect Malta to continue fulfilling its mission for dialogue and mutual respect between nations and peoples, putting at the heart of its action plan the guiding principles of security, sustainability and solidarity.
We look forward to this challenge, which I am convinced, we will be living up to with great success.
In conclusion, dear guests, I invite you to raise your glasses for a toast, to the health of the President, His Excellency Sergio Mattarella, to the people of the Italian Republic and to the excellent relations between our peoples.