President Mahmoud Abbas,
Deputy Prime Minister of Malta,
Members of the media,
This is a historic visit, as it is the second visit by a Maltese head of state in nearly twenty years. This visit gives us the opportunity to reaffirm the friendship that surely exists between the peoples of Malta and Palestine.
Malta’s diplomatic relations with Palestine go back to almost four decades, and throughout all those years we have always supported the Palestinians’ right of self-determination.
The meetings held this morning, between myself and President Abbas and our delegations have provided another platform to develop these relations.
During our meeting, we discussed various sectors of mutual interest, which include the political situation, tourism, culture, education, and other forms of cooperation, amongst others.
From our discussions, it is clear that there is a long-standing commitment to continue to explore new opportunities for cooperation between our nations.
In fact, it was in 1974 that Malta recognised the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian People, as well as with a Representative Office in Malta.
Furthermore, the Representative Office of Malta, which opened in Ramallah in 2009, is tangible evidence of the traditional ties of friendship that are being taken to the next level.
Therefore, let me take this opportunity to thank the Maltese representative, Reuben Gauci, for his efforts to enhance political and economic relations between Malta and Palestine, while also exploring opportunities to build stronger person-to-person connections.
The only way to provide a sustainable context for such connections is to address the unacceptable uncertainty and unrest under which Palestinian communities are living.
I augur that serious efforts will continue, to resume the much-needed peace process and to achieve a two-state solution which allows Palestinians and Israelis to live side-by-side in peace.
As we all know, the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process has experienced many challenges and struggles.
Therefore, the active support of Malta, the European Union, and the international community must continue to provide hope that an independent and democratic State of Palestine will one day exist alongside the State of Israel, in the context of the two-state solution.
My visit here today reaffirms the political will of my government to be an active collaborator in efforts to create and to safeguard strategies for sustainable peace.
In order for peace to be long-lasting, it must become an intrinsic part of all of our societies and our cultures.
For decades, Malta has engaged with Palestinians through various educational initiatives, including opportunities for Palestinians to study in a variety of educational sectors. Malta for many years has provided a number of scholarships to Palestinian students.
As the international community affirms, the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, to reach their aspirations.
Everybody, every member of our human family, deserves to move and travel freely, to feel secure in their communities, and to receive opportunities to fulfill their legitimate aspirations.
I would like to reiterate Malta’s support to the Palestinian people to achieve the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is all about.
As I said during my time in Israel, all stakeholders must continue working together in order to build trust and mutual respect to ensure that human rights for all are safeguarded.
Dialogue can only exist when it is rooted in these principles of respectful cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
President Abbas, our friendship goes beyond bilateral relations. It is felt in a grass-roots commitment, to promote the best interests of the people of Palestine, and to ensure that universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected for every member of our human family.
Finally, I augur that we shall continue to collaborate, to enhance peace and prosperity in the region, and the world.
In this way, we shall ensure a more hopeful future for the benefit of all peoples.