The President of Malta

Speech by H.E. George Vella, President of Malta, during a meeting with Malta’s Honorary Consuls

Grand Master’s Palace

7 February 2024

Hon. Minister Dr Ian Borg,
Permanent Secretary,
Esteemed Members of Malta’s Honorary Diplomatic Corps,

I am very pleased to welcome you at the Grand Master’s Palace this afternoon.
You can consider yourselves very fortunate as you are one of the very first groups of guests who can enjoy the Palace in its original grandeur, following extensive and very successful renovation works.

It has been five years since we last met in this format, and while I am pleased to see many familiar faces, I congratulate those of you who have been recently appointed.

Even in my days as Minister for Foreign Affairs, it was always very satisfying to see that so many of you make the effort to attend this important meeting.

The world has undergone several shocks since we last met in this format – with a pandemic that overhauled our lives, and two ongoing wars; one in Ukraine and the other between Israel and Hamas.

These developments have impinged on global political and economic stability, and I am sure that they have also affected the work you carry out as Malta’s Honorary Consuls.

Your Meeting in Malta is therefore all-the-more timely.

I see that your very good programme of events over these two days, is planned in a way that yields added value through the joint sessions held with Malta’s resident and non-resident Ambassadors.

The range of subjects you will be discussing, mirrors the focus the country is placing on its further, active advancement of its political, economic and cultural profile worldwide.

While the extent and parameters of your duties are clearly different from those of Ambassadors, the shared goal is one and the same – promoting Malta’s interests and credentials at every available opportunity.

You, like our Ambassadors and the Ministry itself, are a crucial asset in the equation.

Looking into greater detail at your work, I have no doubts in stating that as Honorary Consuls, you are the best-placed individuals to stimulate interest in Malta’s commercial credentials.

Apart from your highly respectable professional and academic profiles, Malta also relies on your representation and networking skills.
You know better than I do, that these are essential in familiarising your countries’ authorities and business communities with what we have to offer.

From a broad economic perspective there is an ever-growing array of successful sectors in Malta, which you should elaborate upon with your interlocutors at home.

Financial Services, aviation, the maritime sector, education, the filming industry, medical tourism and ICT are all avenues over which, size and physical limitations have absolutely no bearing.

Along the years, I had occasion to observe first hand, the exceptional work you carry out to project Malta’s best qualities to the investors, entrepreneurs and business communities in the countries and cities where you operate.

I urge you to think creatively about opportunities and put your suggestions forward to the Ministry and other specialised entities that could benefit from your insights.

Another aspect that I invite you to pay closer attention to is the immense cultural heritage our islands possess, which is one of the greatest resources we can boast of.
The people of Malta have, along the centuries, thrived on the diversity of cultures that our geostrategic position has thankfully exposed us to.

As a result, we have learned to value and maximise upon the immediate benefits that multicultural realities can bring not only to dialogue between peoples but even to further economic growth.

This aspect of Maltese society has become very pronounced in recent years as our social fabrics has been enriched with an ever-increasing and global, multicultural presence.

This evolving scenario is one that rests on your active and hands-on involvement to ensure that all those who seek employment in Malta, especially Third Country Nationals, are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities even before they actually take such a crucial step.

I also ask you to ensure that all potential abuses or departures from acceptable standards and norms in employment terms, accommodation, work-life balance are immediately reported to Maltese authorities.

My position on this matter is a clear one – zero tolerance to any conditions that are unjust or undignified.

The rights of everyone in Malta, local and foreign, are to be fully safeguarded.
At the same time, I urge you to use your knowledge of Malta’s legal, economic, cultural and social norms to ensure that the process of integration in Maltese communities is a smooth and seamless one.

I also wish to spare a few words on what I find to be a very rewarding, yet also most challenging, aspect of your duties.
This relates primarily to assisting Maltese nationals who may find themselves in distress.

The people of Malta and Gozo find great comfort in the knowledge that you stand ready to come to their aid and assistance in difficult situations – on some occasions even at the cost of huge personal sacrifice.

You are many a time, the first point of contact for Maltese persons, who find themselves in the midst of a problem or crisis abroad.

The Covid 19 Pandemic has taught us all a lesson or two on this front.

In this regard, I take this opportunity to extend thanks and appreciation on behalf of the hundreds of our nationals and entire families who required your assistance in returning to Malta safely when the pandemic situation was at its worst.

Esteemed guests,

The world has not become a safer place since we last met in May 2019.
On the contrary, challenges are on the rise.

Countries, societies and individuals are made to feel vulnerable in the face of threats like foreign aggression, radicalism, populism, social injustice and deepening inequalities.

As we look ahead at the coming months, I encourage you to keep up the good work and continue contributing to Malta’s efforts and energies in the pursuit of peace.

I ask you to do so also in light of two very important missions that Malta is fulfilling as an elected Member of the UN Security Council and as Chairperson in Office at the OSCE.

Our work for security and stability does not stop at our borders.

We are putting our best credentials, qualities and talents to the best possible use by the international community.

This is the peace-loving, ambitious and resilient Malta which you should all be representing and promoting.

Without further ado, I conclude by commending you once again for having made this trip to Malta and share your insights and experiences in this prestigious forum.

In conclusion, as most of you would know, this is the last time I am addressing you as my Presidency term comes to a close in April.

My parting message is one of encouragement to keep up the good work.

I thank you all for the support I have received from this group along the years, in my different capacities and encourage you to keep up the same level of professionalism, competence and trust with my successor.

Thank you.

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