His Excellency Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany
His Excellency Walter Haßmann, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Malta
Honourable Members of Parliament
It is indeed a great pleasure for my wife Miriam and myself to be gathered with you here today. Just a few hours ago, I had the honour of hosting the Arraiolos Malta meeting gathering under one roof thirteen non-executive Presidents from the European Union.
Our discussions, at times turning into heated debates, reflected in no small part our common concern to address the long standing and novel threats. I am proud to state that it is in fact our European diversity which shines bright through the darkest and most challenging of times.
Together, and in a respectful environment, the Arraiolos Malta meeting provided an amicable platform advancing principles of prosperity, security, and peace.
Your presence at the Arraiolos Malta meeting and long-standing commitment to promote both the bilateral and multilateral level core European Union values of human dignity, democracy, and the rule of law, further strengthen our joint mission of promoting a strong and functioning Europe. Furthermore, the opportunity to exchange with you ideas during a bilateral meeting held earlier this morning, coupled with the chance to meet now in a more relaxed environment, highlight the important nexus between diplomacy, political dialogue, and people to people exchanges.
Diplomatic relations between Malta and the Federal Republic of Germany date back to 1965.
It is with great satisfaction that I observe that throughout the years our respective countries sought the establishment of diplomatic dialogue and the signing of different agreements at a political, economic, and cultural level. Furthermore, the German community in Malta is actively contributing to the Maltese economy and adding value to Malta’s diverse and multi-cultural portfolio. As a country, we are pleased to host such an energetic German diaspora, eager to continue to be a leading and innovative group in Malta.
I recall with pleasure my recent visit to the German capital in 2021 and the excellent meeting held with President Steinmeier at Schloss Bellevue. During our fruitful meeting we agreed that at both the bilateral and multilateral level, economic growth needs to be embedded within strong considerations for environmental sustainability and social justice. We addressed ongoing challenges, particularly the ineffective fragmented approach with which we are addressing irregular migration and the increasing surge of populist sentiments in different European countries.
At that time, but even today, during the Arraiolos Malta meeting, we reaffirmed our strong commitment to promote democratic principles and the rule of law for the development of long-standing peace, prosperity and security in Europe.
Many will agree with me when I say that the year 2022 has brought with it new opportunities but has also created novel challenges and threats. The belligerent and looming threats from the East, and ever-increasing environmental pressures caused by climate change compel us to re-examine our diplomatic work and political commitments taken in the past decades.
The totally unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the prolonged fighting that resulted in millions of people leaving their country is a reality affecting men, women, and children. Moreover, the devastating effects that would have happened by the contemplated blockades of wheat and gas supplies, directly threaten the livelihood and quality of life of millions of citizens in Europe and other neighbouring states. The weaponisation of essential resources such as food and energy, further reaffirm the devastating effects caused by belligerent mind frames and, regrettably it seems, an ever-increasing appetite for war.
As one of the smallest countries in the EU, and now one of the smallest and youngest democracies to occupy a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, Malta has kept true to its core mission of promoting respectful dialogue and diplomatic tools of engagement.
Malta’s constitution itself declares that our major objective is the attainment of peace – and hopefully, a Just peace at that!
Being small does not mean being naïve. In fact, Malta is conscious that modern day hurdles further entrench the possibility of moving closer to stability and peace. Nonetheless, we continue to invest our resources in multilateral dialogue. We see this as a pivotal component in shifting conflicting positions towards achieving diplomatic solutions and long-lasting peace.
I am therefore satisfied that my country has taken upon itself the principled task of promoting the UN Children and Armed Conflict portfolio, and the UN Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Furthermore, we will also address in a broader approach over thirty country specific issues, including long established conflicts and peace processes. We remain determined to play our part in building the necessary trust and enhanced political will necessary to achieve positive environmental and social change.
We will do this guided by the principles of security, sustainability, and solidarity, as tools to achieve stability, peace and prosperity.
That is why, both Malta and Germany cannot turn a blind eye to the unfolding injustices, the humanitarian, and the social crisis taking places in various geopolitical regions close to us and further afield. It is of particular concern to observe a deterioration of rights and opportunities especially for women in authoritarian and theocratic regimes. It is of equal concern to observe whole young generations scarred by the traumatizing effects of war, famine and destitution.
Amidst this perennial state of crisis, we find solace in like minded partners and rejoice in the possibility of extending our bilateral and multilateral relations to new heights. Occasions such as this one, are a small example of the treasured friendship between the Republic of Malta and the Federal Republic of Germany. In conclusion, I take the opportunity to thank His Excellency Haßmann for gathering us here today, and his sterling work throughout the year. I ask you to join me in a toast to the health of the President Steinmeier and Mrs Steinmeier, the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany, and to you and your relatives back home for an ever stronger friendship between our respective countries.