Official Dinner Speech by President George Vella

Excellencies,

Dear colleagues and friends,

It is an honour to welcome you to the Grandmaster’s Palace for our Official Dinner that brings the Malta Arraiolos to its conclusion.

My wife Miriam also joins me in extending our appreciation to you all for joining us this evening following a very intensive programme of events.

I have chosen this impressive venue for our last gathering as one final taste of Malta’s unique cultural and historical heritage. This Palace was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and as its name clearly indicates, it was the seat of power when Malta was under the rule of the Knights of St John up to 1798.

It has recently undergone, and is still undergoing, an extensive refurbishment project, during which we discovered several hidden historical gems, attesting to Malta’s millennial history, buried by the passage of time.

This is indeed a fitting venue for such a distinguished group of guests, which are at the same time close partners and friends of Malta.

My intention this evening is not to labour on the worries and concerns that took up most of our deliberations today.

I wanted, rather, to address you to express my appreciation to you and your spouses for having taken such an active part in the Malta Arraiolos.

I must confess that when we agreed in Rome, that Malta would be host to the 2022 Meeting and not the 2023, the one that I had originally planned, a sense of trepidation had crept in, as our work had to be anticipated by twelve months.

You can also imagine that the same feeling was shared by my team, and all the other entities involved in such a daunting project.

Yet we made it and here we are today.

As we Maltese are used to doing, we punched above our weight, doubled the effort, and managed to meet all targets. I thank all those who in one way or the other, at every level, high and low, have assisted in bringing my plans to fruition.

I also wanted this evening’s dinner to be a parting gesture of the camaraderie and fellowship that we have managed to build amongst us along the years, as well as a formal welcome to Zuzana Čaputová in our ranks.

This is my third Arraiolos meeting since I took office as President in April 2019. I say with great honour that through this format, I have further consolidated Malta’s relations with most of your countries through bilateral visits, official communications, and regular phone calls.

I invite all of us to keep these contacts going and consolidate our network of trust.

This is the best defence we can have in the face of external pressures.

When we speak of unity, we also have to work for it, and invest our efforts and our energies. The theme of the ‘State of the Union’ Speech was aptly entitled ‘A Union that Stands Stronger Together’.

As our task is not always an easy one, I for one, find strength and relief in our shared values and the support of such highly esteemed colleagues.

In these troubling times, and in a world where aggression, injustices, and arrogance seem to prevail, it is good to celebrate mutual respect, acceptance, and appreciation.

Let us cultivate this exemplary spirit and live up to its expectations.

On this note I salute our colleagues Alexander, Sauli, Rumen, Zoran, Andrzej and Sergio who each for their own pressing reasons and urgent engagements could not join us or stay for this dinner with us this evening.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

Finally, I salute our colleague and friend, Borut, to whom we bid farewell from the Arraiolos Group today. Dear Borut, I thank you for your support along these years and on behalf of us all, I wish you health and happiness.

I would like to invite you all to raise your glasses to our successful Malta Arraiolos meeting and to our collective good health and well-being. May our friendship remain strong and resilient and may we all continue to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to all our citizens.

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