Dear Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
As we usher in a New Year, I am pleased to address you to convey my best wishes, despite the abnormal circumstances that continue to prevail globally.
This is the second consecutive year that we had to regretfully give up on our traditional official dinner at Verdala Palace to exchange Greetings in person.
I was very keen on meeting all of you for this occasion, but as we have had to do all year round, priority was given to each other’s health and well-being.
Aside from their ceremonial value, these messages provide a very good opportunity for us all to carry out a stock take of the changes that took place over the past months.
Undoubtedly, the common denominator for all our countries was combatting the spread and effects of the pandemic at both the national and the international levels.
This time last year, we were still more or less facing the unknown.
So many lessons have been learned since then, on the nature of the virus, the way it evolves, and the best measures to counter it.
We have also somehow learned to fashion our lives around it and adjusted several aspects of our professional and personal lives according to what the virus dictated.
Above all, we have learned that no country can do this alone, and that we need one another to hopefully eradicate the virus.
In Malta, the situation was kept under control thanks to the dedicated professionals who worked and continue to work tirelessly to keep us as safe and as well-informed as possible.
As the latest variant has shown us, the Pandemic is far from over and we are still in the throes of its wide-spread effects.
Despite the obstacles, I have no doubt that true to its proven record of determination and resilience, Malta will bounce back on its feet.
With cautious planning and optimism, our economy and especially the tourism sector will be able to recover.
As we continue to address national priorities, we also seek to reduce the global disparities that the Pandemic has further accentuated.
Malta does not only speak of solidarity – it also practices it.
As we all know, for different reasons, access to vaccination is still not guaranteed for some nations.
It therefore gives me great pride to say that even in the face of limited supplies, Malta punched above its weight and actually distributed protective clothing and vaccines for free to other nations and peoples.
From the broader perspective, I hope to see a paradigm in post-COVID global politics.
This crisis requires that we chase less of our national agendas and dedicate more energies to re-establishing some form of equilibrium and equity.
The situation was already a precarious one for several categories of the global population.
We cannot turn our backs on the vulnerable, on those with disabilities, the internally displaced, those millions who are increasingly exposed to abject poverty, women who still have no access to education or employment, and at worse suffering violence.
In short, this health crisis calls on us to overhaul the international agenda.
COVID-19 has highlighted how multi-dimensional a global crisis can be and we require a post-pandemic recovery plan based on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals as enshrined in the 2030 Agenda.
Firstly, our response should be composed of a large-scale health response, including accelerating work towards availability of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatment for everyone, everywhere.
We also need to work on addressing the adverse socioeconomic, humanitarian, and human rights effects of the pandemic and, lastly, we have to plan a recovery that builds back and sustains an international system that can protect and deliver on critical global public goods.
We will only make it if we invest in an international system that is characterised by trust rather than confrontational and unilateral decisions.
Through effective multilateralism, we need to see that the global economic system is an inclusive one, both across countries and within them.
This cannot be accomplished unless it is based on cooperation and trust between the major global partners – the EU, United States, Russia and China.
All international policy initiatives – and domestic ones, too – should have as their goal broad-based improvements in people’s well-being.
The values of dialogue and mutual understanding continue to lie at the core of Malta’s foreign policy and its constant defence of dialogue and mutual respect between nations.
As our region remains a volatile and unstable one, we will continue to strive for a democratic Libya, stability in our valuable partners in the Maghreb and the Mashreq, restored dialogue and contacts in the Gulf.
At the same time, we will continue to look at Africa with increased optimism for growth, untapped opportunities, investment and people to people contacts.
We have long misjudged the African Continent as a source of only conflict, poverty and irregular migration.
The opportunities, based on partnership and a level-playing field, could be endless and are still to be discovered.
In this regard, I share my satisfaction at the way Malta’s diplomatic network continues to grow in Africa and even beyond, as far away as South America.
As our global vision and aspirations continue to evolve and change, one ‘constant’ continues to feature prominently.
I refer to the complex issue of migration, which I purposely link to the point I made previously on solidarity.
I remain very seriously concerned with the continuing irregular flows arriving at the EU’s external borders – the Central Mediterranean route continues to see a very high number of crossings – with very tragic consequences.
From my very own perspective, I remain troubled at the lack of consensus – indeed divisions – that the issue of migration continues to provoke between European Union members, in spite of repeated appeals and plans for joint action.
If these divisions continue to prevail, frontline countries like Malta itself, will unfortunately be left to fend for themselves.
One other issue that Malta continues to follow very closely – as every country should – is that of Climate Change.
COP 26 reflected an important shift in global climate strategy because it featured separate agreements on issues like coal and deforestation, rather than focusing solely on greenhouse gas mitigation.
Yet a realistic look around us shows that despite the good intentions behind specialised conferences and documents, the developments on the ground, and future prospects are far from reassuring.
We need to keep our eyes open to the clear signs that the the planet itself is sending us.
The future we give to upcoming generations rests on the action we take, or fail to take, now.
Climate Change does not affect states in the same manner but if unprepared, its consequences are severe enough to bring about instability, conflict, irregular migration and internal displacements.
That is precisely why Malta believes that the Security Council’s engagement on climate and security issues is both desirable and necessary.
On this note, we are now in the run-up to June 2022 when Malta will be contesting elections for a seat on the Security Council in 2023-24.
We are fully aware of the responsibility that this seat brings with it.
If we are entrusted to serve on the Council, Malta stands committed to being an example of dialogue and multilateralism.
As one of the smallest Member States of the United Nations, Malta is particularly sensitive to the impact that external and regional affairs can have on a country.
As our history shows, geographic size should not keep any one country from contributing to the International Community.
Through the decades we have served as a point of dialogue and convergence, and as a result, we are natural consensus builders in the interest of peace.
Support for Malta at the June 2022 United Nations Security Council election will constitute support to a reliable, balanced partner seeking to foster stability and multilateral solidarity around the globe.
I thank you for your work and commitment to strengthen relations Malta and your respective countries and wish you all a healthy and peaceful New Year.