Your Excellency, High Commissioner Katherine Ward,
It is a pleasure to be here with you today, celebrating the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. I, together with my wife, had the honour to attend the magnificent celebration that was held at Westminster Abbey last Saturday, where like so many others, we were in awe at the solemnity of the ceremony which was accentuated by the finest pieces of choral music, chosen by His Majesty himself specifically for the occassion.
I was equally impressed by the impeccable organisation of the celebrations as a whole. In fact, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the hospitality and security that was afforded to me, my wife Miriam and my delegation throughout our stay in London.
It was one huge security and crowd control exercise that work like clockwork at all levels. This visit provided many of us, with the opportunity to engage in discussions of a global nature. I particularly enjoyed meeting colleagues within the Commonwealth group. During the meeting chaired by Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland after we had the opportunity to meet His Majesty for an exchange of greetings and a group photo, we had an interesting exchange, about the present and future role of young people in Commonwealth countries, especially with regard to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Commonwealth is made up of around 2 billion people, 60% of whom are still young people. From our exchanges it was evident that education and solid job opportunities for young people are pivotal for states that aim to achieve peace and unity. During this meeting, amongst other things, I suggested the creation of youth exchange programmes that are especially aimed for young people hailing from small Commonwealth countries. In this way, they are given the opportunity to see and experience different practices and cultures, around the 56 countries and ultimately go back home richer on a cultural level, and ready to provide their hands-on contribution, thanks to the new knowledge they would have acquired overseas.
Another topic of discussion, which is close to His Majesty’s heart, and about which he has spoken for the last fifty (50) years was that of environmental concerns and the threats caused by man induced climate change. These imminent challenges are the everyday reality of so many small island states, within the Commonwealth and beyond.
Back in February 2023, during the United Nations Security Council Presidency, Malta held a special session on the phenomenon of rising sea levels and the effects on Small Island Developing States. For Malta this is a priority topic, together with Children in Armed Conflict, Women Peace and Security as well as Literacy.
Malta’s aspiration to serve on the Security Council stemmed from our willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in a meaningful manner.
Despite this tense climate, we are determined to play a constructive role in highlighting the value of multilateralism and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, emphasising the need to protect the rules-based international order, and ensuring that international institutions remain relevant in the contemporary world. ‘Might is right’ is the law of the jungle, and not of the civilised world.
High Commissioner Ward, I am pleased to note our teams in New York have been working closely for many months now and continue to do so. We see room for collaboration and for further engagement on areas of mutual interest and concern, and value greatly the ongoing consultations throughout our term on the Security Council, both in New York as well as in our capitals.
As Russia’s war against Ukraine rages on, we continue to express our unequivocal support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and deplore Russia’s behaviour which leads to escalation. No effort should be spared in safeguarding our common values and rights. Of equal concern to Malta, is the situation in Libya which is static and still marked by political polarization. As we already advocated in various fora, it is of utmost importance that we continue to encourage all sides to work towards a genuine and lasting resolution to the current institutional crisis.
To this effect, we will continue to back proactive engagement by the international community in support of UN-led efforts, including those of
UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Libya Abdoulaye Bathily’s. Identifying with the Libyan and regional stakeholders a consensus-based pathway towards national presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023 is the ideal way forward.
High Commissioner Ward,
The Coronation of Their Majesties marks the beginning of a new era in British history. I am certain however, that bilateral relations between Malta and the United Kingdom will continue to grow from strength to strength. We share a strong legacy which is cherished by the Maltese people and can be witnessed in our culture, language, culture and also family ties. You will also agree that Malta has a special affinity with the Royal Family.
When I was last received by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in March 2020, her eyes lit up when she reminisced on Malta, which she described as ‘the Isle of happy memories’.
Rest assured that the affection that the Maltese reserved to the late Queen Elisabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh will now be afforded to Their Majesties. Same as with his parents, His Majesty the King has close ties with Malta. Many vividly recall him as a young prince during his first visit in 1954. Many other visits followed. The latest visit taking place in 2017, when he marked the 75th Anniversary of Malta being awarded the George Cross.
Even against a background of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, Malta will continue to maintain its strong relationship with the United Kingdom, including on trade, within the parameters of the EU Treaties. In this regard, we look forward to holding regular political consultations through a structured dialogue on various themes of common interests.
We owe this commitment to our large diasporas both in Malta and in the United Kingdom, as well as to the many Maltese and British tourists that visit our respective countries.
High Commissioner Ward,
I invite you to raise your glasses and toast to the health of His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty Queen Camilla, the British Diaspora living in Malta and to the bond of friendship that binds the People of Malta and the People of the United Kingdom.