Honourable Deputy Prime Minister,
Honourable Leader of the Opposition,
Let me begin by saying how pleased I am to be among you here today to celebrate the National Day of the United States of America in this enjoyable atmosphere.
On an occasion such as this, it is worth recalling that Maltese and United States relations are rooted in connection to this very historic day that we have gathered here tonight to celebrate.
I am referring to the 1800 Maltese sailors enlisted to assist the American cause in the Battle of Chesapeake (1781) during the War of Independence. This intervention contributed in no small measure to the success of the 12 colonies to become free and independent states.
The excellent bilateral ties that our countries nurtured throughout these two hundred years have continued to grow from strength to strength. A strong fundamental respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law are shared values that define the close nature of our relationship.
Further reinforcing the strong links between our two countries is the very active and thriving Maltese diaspora in the United States, the third largest outside of Malta.
I have, in fact, only recently returned from a visit to the United States, where I had the opportunity to meet with the vibrant Maltese communities in New York and Michigan. I note with great pleasure that over the years, diligence, kindness and determination have continued to stand out in the Maltese diaspora in the United States.
During my visits and encounters, I could witness the excellent opportunities and new beginnings presented to our long-established Maltese diaspora by the United States during those difficult times. For this we are very grateful.
Two hundred and forty-seven years ago, the Declaration of Independence was adopted as the founding document of the United States of America.
For just a moment, let us read those words again:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”
I believe that there is something in these words that resonates in our day and age as they continue to inspire people around the world to fight for their rights to life, liberty and equality.
Recent years have been very challenging for the international community.
From the global environmental perspective, the rapid change in climate is intensifying heatwaves, droughts, flooding, wildfires and famines. Climate change is also threatening to submerge low-lying countries as sea levels rise due to melting glaciers and increasingly extreme weather.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and caused devastating economic and social disruption, which exacerbated the persisting inequalities around the globe. The vulnerable always suffer the most.
Just as we were about to emerge from the pandemic, the war in Ukraine broke out. As Russia’s unjustified and illegal aggression rages on, we continue to express our unequivocal support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We have seen large numbers of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homeland, seeking refuge in other European countries, even in our own.
We have seen the disaster of war play out again on our television screens at home.
Over and above all of this, this war is compounding already-existing global food and energy insecurities. The strategic destruction of civilian infrastructure and disregard for human rights constitute cynical breaches of international law.
As an elected member of the United Nations Security Council, Malta will continue to work towards safeguarding the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers. Civilians are not and should never be a target.
The images of human suffering, death and destruction created a strong impetus for unity among like-minded partners. The United States and the European Union have taken a strong and united stand against Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine.
We must remain united.
Just as we do for ourselves, to defend the Ukrainian people’s right for Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of their Happiness.
Closer to home, the security situation in the Mediterranean remains a great cause of concern. The region is a reservoir of instability as it is disproportionately burdened and afflicted with turmoil and conflict. The deteriorating situation in Libya, and protracted tensions in the broader Mediterranean region provide us with clear examples.
Furthermore, transnational threats like the global climate crisis, terrorism, organised crime and unregulated migration not only pose a threat to our societies, but also have a serious impact on the stability of the Euro-Mediterranean region.
In this regard, I believe the United States has an important role to play in addressing these security challenges and enhancing peace and stability in the Mediterranean.
With a longstanding Mediterranean vocation at the core of its foreign policy, Malta remains steadfast in its claim towards serving as an active hub for dialogue, mediation and peacebuilding – in the Mediterranean and beyond.
As an active European Union member state, we welcome the renewed close Transatlantic relationship, particularly at these very trying times. We also welcome the strengthened, positive approach to international cooperation, engagement, and multilateralism. Maintaining good communication with the United States can never be emphasized enough to ensure cooperation on common interests.
Allow me to also express Malta’s appreciation towards the support extended by the United States in preparation and during our tenure at the Security Council. Political consultations between Malta and Washington were very helpful to fine tune our preparedness for our Security Council mandate.
Malta stands ready to continue enhancing our already excellent bilateral relationship at the United Nations Security Council, both through our missions in New York, as well as through Valletta and Washington.
In this regard, we look forward to continuing collaborating closely on the various dossiers in which we are likeminded, to ensure the full effectiveness and efficiency of the Security Council.
Looking ahead, Malta’s cooperation with the United States in various areas will remain indispensable. The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) is a prime example of our collaboration in the control of international terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering and arms trafficking. Malta has embraced this project fully, and will continue to provide it with all the necessary support as its host country.
Despite current challenges, Malta is determined to play a constructive role in highlighting the value of multilateralism, emphasizing the need to protect the rules-based order, and ensuring that our institutions remain relevant in the contemporary world.
Whether promoting multilateralism or investing in dialogue and diplomacy, there is always more work to be done – but what cause could be more noble?
I invite you to join me to raise a toast to the President of the United States of America, to the People of the United States of America, and to the American People here in Malta, wishing everyone a safe and joyful celebration of this year’s Independence Day.