Honourable Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade
Dean of the Honorary Consular Corps,
Members of the Honorary Consular Corps,
It is a pleasure for me to address you as President of Malta for the first time in this imposing Palace in Valletta.
COVID-19 and the radical restoration to this Palace over these last years have precluded us from meeting here earlier.
These initiatives and traditions, marking the beginning of a new year, are in themselves an incentive and encouragement for the year ahead.
I am really pleased to host all of you here this morning.
I reiterate my appreciation, which I have expressed on several other occasions, for the hands-on assistance provided at the peak of the pandemic when your help was solicited to help individuals and families that had to return suddenly to their respective countries.
While remaining cautious, let us hope that we have put that painful chapter behind us.
In our daily routines, the work you so diligently carry out as Honorary Consuls is many a time not fully captured, let alone understood and appreciated by the general public.
Yet while not always visible, it is most valuable.
I had ample opportunities to appreciate the difference you can make to Malta’s bilateral relations, to a trade link, to an investment, or to a citizen in distress, through my first-hand experiences in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Apart from the results you deliver in your fields of operation, you are above all a vital link to deliver a message of good will in the countries that you represent.
The contents of your reports and contacts with the authorities at the other end can tilt the balance and give a strong impression one way or the other.
Yours is therefore a role that carries great responsibility.
I urge you to put your functions to their best use by giving the most accurate reports possible on the ways in which Malta is working to strengthen its regulatory institutions and to continue to offer an environment for business and investment, especially in emerging and innovative areas.
From a more tangible perspective, we rely on your capabilities in promoting Malta’s interests in various sectors such as the tourism industry and the studying of the English language, in the maritime domain and in the aviation and pharmaceuticals sectors amongst others.
Together, we must continue to invest in those innovative areas over which Malta has already built for itself a proven record, and at the same time also seek new ventures that could flourish in Malta.
There is a great balance that has to be struck between being an innovation hub that attracts new international initiatives and at the same time giving opportunities to our workers, especially our younger generations, to develop the necessary and needed abilities in Malta itself.
From the community perspective, you are a bridge that facilitates the exchange between peoples and cultures. As we have all come to appreciate, Malta, like other countries, is becoming increasingly multicultural.
It is through your valid assistance and much-valued contribution that local authorities can continue to see that the interests of all foreign citizens living, working, studying and contributing in no small manner to the economic success that Malta is currently experiencing, is safeguarded.
At the same time, as Honorary Consuls, you also have a very important role to play in educating these foreigners in their legal obligations and rights, the moment they start living in Malta.
I appeal to all of you to invest your energies in facilitating dialogue and people-to-people contacts between us, Maltese and Gozitans, and our foreign guests, in full cooperation with government authorities, the local councils and non-governmental organisations.
The present international scenario is a most turbulent one.
Since we last met, a war has broken out in Europe.
Almost one year on since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, we are regrettably familiar with the devastation and dramatic displacements it has brought with it.
Tens of thousands of people dead, tens of thousands of people injured, thousands missing, more than fourteen million people displaced. Inestimable amounts of damage to buildings and property. Incalculable damage to the mental health of all, especially young children.
We are, from our side, feeling the brunt of its consequences on our economies and energy supplies, prices and distribution.
Against this background, which is now spreading beyond the confines of Central Europe, it is all the more pressing that the Consular Corps continues to give its unique contribution to increased bilateral and multilateral engagement in the interest of a more consolidated network on the trade, commercial and energy levels.
In today’s context, I also wish to refer to the beginning of Malta’s prestigious two-year journey as a non-Permanent Member of the Security Council.
These are extraordinary times for our country, as it further reinforces our international and multilateral profile. I am sure that you will be following Malta’s work in this new capacity very closely, and help, if need be, by providing or enabling any support that may be required for us to fulfil this onerous task.
In conclusion, I urge you to keep up the good work as a fundamental link in the chain that safeguards the wellbeing of our society and global family more broadly.
For the months ahead, I remain committed to continue working with all of you towards this goal.
I wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year.