President of Malta George Vella and Mrs Miriam Vella welcomed the President of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, at Sant’Anton Palace in Attard.
President Vella and President Rinkēvičs confirmed the excellent bilateral relations between Malta and Latvia. During the official talks, the two Presidents discussed opportunities to further deepen these relations and exchanged views on both bilateral and international issues. Addressing the media following the talks, President Vella said that since the commencement of the diplomatic relations between Malta and Latvia 34 years ago, very good progress was made in terms of political contacts, also in light of their membership to the European Union in 2004.
President Vella shared his views on pressing international matters, and the active role that Malta is taking in trying to resolve them, particularly at the UN Security Council as an elected Member for the term 2023-2024 and as the OSCE Chair-in-Office for 2024. “This is a historic moment for our country, and we are assuming this role with a sense of commitment and responsibility, as we recognise that this is a critical moment in the international arena,” stated President Vella whilst expressing gratitude to President Rinkēvičs for Latvia’s support for Malta’s Chairpersonship at the OSCE.
The two Presidents addressed in detail and condemned Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. “We will equally maintain the unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have been vocal in condemning these acts and maintain that perpetrators must be held accountable,” said President Vella.
With regard to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, President Vella denounced the unfolding daily tragedy and the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. “Dialogue is key. It is imperative that all parties, including the EU, work together with regional and global partners to promote a genuine political horizon which safeguards a Two-State Solution based on pre-1967 borders, addressing the legitimate concerns and aspirations of both sides, in line with relevant UNSC Resolutions,” appealed President Vella.
With regard to irregular migration, President Vella underlined how Malta remains concerned by the migratory pressures from the Central Mediterranean route, with the significant increase of arrivals since 2020. “This is a challenge for the EU and not just a matter for a few frontline Member States. There is a need to strengthen the southern borders and combat human trafficking and smuggling,” stated the President.
Talks also focused on the enlargement of the European Union against the backdrop of ongoing discussions about the Future of the EU.
Ian Borg, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, and delegation accompanied President Vella during the official talks, and briefed the President about his recent visit to Ukraine.
The two Presidents last met in Riga during President Vella’s visit in March 2023. At that time President Rinkēvičs assumed the role of Minister for Foreign Affairs.
During an exchange of decorations ceremony at Sant’Anton Palace, President Vella conferred the Honorary Membership of the National Order of Merit in the Grade of Companion of Honour with Collar on President Rinkēvičs.
The President of Latvia conferred the Order of the Three Stars Commander of the Cross with the Chain of the Order to the President of Malta.