I am pleased to be here with you to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of Operation Pedestal, or as we commonly call it, il-Konvoj ta’ Santa Marija. The jubilation, hope and courage injected into the Maltese thanks to the arrival of the much-needed supplies continue to be one of the most significant episodes in our most recent history. Destitute by long months of aerial bombardments, meagre food provisions and a complete standstill to social life, Malta was practically on its knees. Therefore, the news that a Convoy was close to shore spread like wildfire and alit little beacons of optimism across the islands.
With a heavy heart, one observes that eighty years later, other nation states continue to suffer the hardships of war, endure famine and disease. The escalation of violence in Ukraine, the war in Yemen, the threats of famine in Somalia, the specter of undernourishment in many countries, and the more recent political squabbles hindering the safe passage of grain towards other countries highlight a world which has, regrettably, not changed much from the mid-20th Century.
Why is it so difficult to remember and learn from bad decisions and disastrous consequences of the past?
The technological and economic developments in the last decades have been instrumental to propel humanity towards the future. Advancements in medicine, engineering, and telecommunications revolutionised our societies and our relationship with the rest of the world. Concurrently, advancements in the fields of armament and of armed conflict, including new ‘smart’ weapons, overshadow humanity’s learned lessons on the role of dialogue and peaceful multilateral diplomacy. Whole populations have been experiencing a perennial state of violence and war. Inter-state armed conflict and destruction of resources continue to create new victims, new orphans, displaced persons, and a complete disruption in the human development of a particular nation, state, or people.
Commemorations like this one would lose their intended purpose if celebrated in isolation. The purpose of our gathering here today is to commemorate a historical event and to acknowledge the interdependence of domestic, regional, and international developments. We also want to send a strong message on the important role of positive and active peace.
Let us take this opportunity to remember the bravery of our ancestors and salute their courage to face all obstacles with determination and patriotism.
Let us take this opportunity to denounce the atrocities being carried out today and work together to promote the politics of peace, dialogue and understanding. Accusations, recrimination, and finger pointing takes us nowhere. It is through dialogue and diplomacy that results are achieved.
In conclusion, I wish to thank the Royal Naval Association (Malta Branch) for organising this important event and for keeping alive the memory of those who worked, lived, loved, and died in Malta or for Malta, for democracy, and for a peaceful world free from authoritarianism and dictatorship. I wish to also thank the Wallace Pipes and Drums Band for their performance. Last but not least, a word of praise goes to the Armed Forces of Malta for their impeccable routine.