Dearest President Higgins,
Mrs Sabina Higgins,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all this evening and to have the occasion to meet with all of you, on these last few hours of my State Visit to Ireland.
I want to immediately take this occasion to underline my appreciation, that of my wife Miriam and the entire Maltese delegation, for the attention and detail that was placed on the programme of engagements, by our hosts President and Mrs Higgins.
On behalf of all of us, I extend my thanks to the Irish officials who worked so diligently to organise my official appointments, our cultural events, as well as our very pleasant stay and visit in Cork.
I found my discussions with the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Presidents of the Assembly and Senate, as highly insightful and I thank each and every one of them for the openness and frankness with which they engaged in our discussions.
I consider this visit to Ireland as having been a success on all fronts, and I will return to Malta tomorrow with a strengthened sense of admiration and affinity with Ireland and its people.
If there was ever any need for it, this is another landmark that consolidated the very strong friendship that lies at the heart of the close relations that exist between our two countries.
As we meet this evening in a rather informal setting, with representatives of the Maltese community in Ireland, I want to underline the importance that I attach to people-to-people relations.
Aside from formalities, agreements, and official meetings, you – your families, entrepreneurs, professionals in different fields, students – hold the key to durable bilateral relations that stand the test of time.
This holds both for our community here, as well as for the sizeable Irish community in Malta, which we gladly welcome among us.
We host hundreds of Irish nationals among us in Malta, and we are thankful for the contribution they give to Malta’s continued economic growth, and to the increasingly dynamic social fabric.
Allow me now to address my fellow Maltese in our mother tongue, which I am sure will engage President Higgins and the love that he has for national languages:
- Hu ta’ gost u pjaċir għalija illi niltaqa’ magħkom hawn illum, u nirringrazzjakom talli sibtu l-ħin li tkunu magħna f’din il-laqgħa u anki ma’ marti Miriam.
- Kull fejn inżur, inħoss li wieħed mill-aktar mumenti sinifikanti taż-żjara jkun dak li jlaqqagħna mal-komunitajiet ta’ Maltin ’il bogħod minn xtutna.
- Intom, li għal raġuni jew oħra għażiltu l-Irlanda bħala l-pajjiż addottiv tagħkom, jew għall-istudji tagħkom, qed tagħtu kontribut siewi ħafna biex tkompli tissaħħaħ il-ħbiberija dejjiema bejn iż-żewġ pajjiżi.
- M’għandix dubju li kultant tħossu nostalġija lejn art twelidkom, u b’mod partikolari l-familja Maltija tagħkom. Żgur li kien hemm mumenti, speċjalment waqt l-imxija tal-Covid, fejn ħassejtu n-nuqqas tal-kuntatt dirett ma’ pajjiżkom.
- Nittama li issa li ġejna kważi għan-normal, tkunu tistgħu żżuru Malta ta’ spiss, anki permezz tat-titjiriet diretti, u żżommu ħajjin ir-rabtiet tagħkom ma’ Malta u l-qraba u l-ħbieb tagħkom li għandkom hemmhekk.
- Kif nagħmel dejjem, nappellalkom li kemm jista’ jkun possibbli ma tinsewx l-ilsien Malti. Naf li diffiċli li tipprattikawh kuljum hawnhekk, iżda komplu żommuh b’għożża u ħarsuh kemm tistgħu, speċjalment min fostkom forsi qed irabbi t-tfal u qed jibni familja hawnhekk.
- Ftakru wkoll li kull waħda u wieħed minnkom hija jew huwa ambaxxatur ta’ pajjiżna fl-Irlanda. Bl-imġiba tagħkom u b’għemilkom kunu konxji li l-ħin kollu żżommu ’l fuq kemm jista’ jkun l-isem ta’ Malta.
- Nagħlaq dawn il-kelmtejn bil-Malti billi nixtiqilkom kull hena u suċċess fil-ħajja personali tagħkom u nerġa’ nħeġġiġkom tkunu ta’ ġieħ lejn pajjiżna f’kulma tagħmlu.
I once again thank you all for joining us for this very pleasant evening. It comes as a most fitting round-up to a memorable experience for me and my delegation here in Ireland.
The past three days have further reinforced my understanding of Ireland’s highly respected place on the international scene, its rich and inspiring history, its traditions and sense of innovation, and the resolve and warmth of its people.
President Higgins, rest assured that this visit is not an end in itself.
Upon our return, we will resume our work and initiatives to ensure that more, and better, results are reached towards ever-closer relations between Malta and Ireland.
My final words of appreciation go to you, Mr President, and Mrs Higgins, whom I thank profusely for the wisdom and knowledge they so selflessly share with us, and for the friendship they have afforded us during these past years.
Thank you, very much.