Minister for Foreign Affairs,
I am pleased to once more be with you here to celebrate the National Day of the Republic of India. I thank the High Commissioner Her Excellency Gloria Gangte for inviting us here today, and for her work to further bridge dialogue between our two countries.
Malta and India enjoy a long history of fruitful diplomatic and commercial relations which in more recent years expanded also to include increased people to people encounters. Our celebration today is one of the most significant opportunities to not only commemorate the National Day of your country, but also as a chance to further enhance our political, cultural, people to people, and commercial dialogue.
Establishing diplomatic relations in 1965, Malta and the Republic of India have gone through significant social, economic and environmental changes. For a small country such as Malta, it is greatly satisfying to observe this ever-growing friendship and increased political and commercial dialogue between two geographically distant countries, yet closely cooperating democracies.
Testimony to this fruitful cooperation is the sizeable Indian community in Malta amounting to more than eight thousand individuals, and the increased presence of private companies particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
I take the opportunity to thank all the Indian workers residing in Malta for their direct contribution to the fruitful development of the Maltese economy and strengthening of services predominantly within the health-care sector. Your hard work and dedication in different professional fields have in no small way contributed to our country’s successes and growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our respective regions continue to face various challenges, particularly those related to sustainability and cross border security. Malta’s accession to the European Union further strengthened dialogue and cooperation at a regional level, particularly on matters of common concern such as climate change, security, and connectivity. The commemorative summit held in December last year between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEM) celebrated 45 years of diplomatic relations and reaffirmed the centrality of multilateral diplomacy and mutual trust to advance global prosperity and peace.
As a member of the European Union, Malta looks forward for the third round of negotiations of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement scheduled to take place in March 2023. Furthermore, Malta welcomes discussions held at the 10th EU-India Human Rights Dialogue which took place in New Delhi in July 2022, whereby both sides reaffirmed the joint commitment to protect and promote human rights standards for all. Together with other cultural and educational initiatives, enhanced EU-India cooperation promises to act as an important auspice for increased global cooperation, stability and peace.
Our common membership to the Commonwealth, and opportunities to interact on multilateral fora, continues to position our respective countries on an important geo-political continuum. The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) which took place in Malta in 2015 was a clear indication of my country’s long-standing commitment to act as a bridge builder across different regions of the world. Back then, as Minister for Foreign Affairs I emphasized Malta’s hope to rekindle a sense of pride and of belonging to the CHOGM project, a political organization gathering 53 nation states. I recall Malta’s leadership to establish a woman’s forum and efforts to bring to the fore challenges and opportunities faced by women in Commonwealth countries, not to mention the initiative to agree unanimously on a statement of action dealing with climate change, which was sent to COP21 taking place in Paris only a few days earlier.
More recently, Malta’s successful election as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council between 2023 and 2024, and focus on the Women, Peace and Security portfolio reaffirm my country’s global vision of advancing a more just and inclusive world. Moreover, it continues to strengthen the role of multilateral diplomacy in finding creative solutions to address long held challenges or emerging threats.
As stated last year, we might speak different languages, belong to different religious beliefs, and enjoy different customs, yet we share one very important element, humanity. If we seriously ponder on this source of unity, that is our common humanity and our higher purpose to preserve and protect our shared globe we call home, we can truly move towards a more just, clean and sustainable future.
Excellency, distinguished guests, on this note, I invite you to raise your glasses for a toast, to the health of the President of India, Her Excellency Droupadi Murmu, and to the excellent relations between the people of Malta and India.