First of all, I have to thank you members of the media for attending this Press Statement.
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to President Higgins for accepting my invitation to come to Malta on this State Visit.
This Visit was meant to take place much earlier, it was supposed to take place in December last year, but had to be postponed due to the restrictions imposed by COVID and its Omicron variant.
President Higgins and I are addressing you right after our Official Talks, during which we discussed in detail, in the time available, the status and potential of our bilateral relations as well as our countries’ international efforts in the interest of peace and stability.
I wish to commence on a note of friendship towards President Higgins.
I have come to know the President closely during our meetings on the margins of the EU Heads of State Arraiolos Meetings, held in Greece and Italy in 2019 and 2021 respectively. We have also maintained direct contacts in the meantime, to keep up with global developments such as what was happening with the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
In all our exchanges and meetings, I have appreciated President Higgins for being a voice of wisdom and social justice, placing the well-being of the individual and the citizen at the heart of our common good.
I highly value President Higgins’ commitment to addressing the effects of climate change in a just manner, the eradication of world hunger and poverty, and the disastrous effects that the proliferation of armaments has brought to the world.
I should also point out that President Higgins possesses a very detailed knowledge of Malta’s history and at every encounter, manifested a vivid interest in finding out even more.
Malta and Ireland share cultural and historical bonds and affinities that are reflected in our like mindedness on several regional and international affairs.
This Visit by President Higgins comes as a testament to these excellent relations on all fronts.
During our Official Talks, we had the opportunity to discuss the excellent nature of relations between our two countries, who share a similar recent history and specific characteristics – such as neutrality.
Both our countries are also active members of the European Union and other multilateral structures, most notably the United Nations, where we share positions that are based on shared principles and visions.
During our talks, we delved in detailed exchanges on EU-related matters such as the Convention on the Future of Europe and Enlargement.
Of course, we also addressed unfolding developments in Ukraine. I reiterated my very serious concern at the humanitarian disaster we are witnessing on a daily basis. I also raised the impact that the aggression has had on international stability and the rules-based international order as well as the severe economic repercussions being felt across the globe.
I remain firm in condemning this unprovoked War.
I also took this occasion to expand upon the worrying developments in the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood – the Mediterranean, particularly developments in North Africa and the Middle East.
On these issues too, I gladly point out that the positions expanded upon by the two sides were very similar.
With regard to matters of a more horizontal nature, I reaffirmed Malta’s commitment to effective and successful multilateralism. We also discussed pressing items on the international agenda, which can only be durably resolved through collective action – such as global social justice, climate change, and irregular migration.
I took today’s occasion to congratulate Ireland on its terms as Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council for the years 2021-2022 and for the cooperation it is affording Malta as it looks at taking up this seat for the term 2023-2024.
Finally, I also handed over to President Higgins the official invitation for the participation at the Arraiolos Heads of State Meeting, that I will be hosting in Malta on 6th of October.
It will be an honour and a pleasure for me to meet President Higgins again on that occasion.