Malta-Japan Friendship Association Address to be delivered by HE The President George Vella on 21 October 2019

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

  • My wife Miriam and I, are very pleased to be with you this evening to celebrate the long-standing friendship between Malta and Japan. My thanks go to President Seto, Mr Mizutani, Mr Koga and the Committee of the Association for your kind invitation and for hosting such a varied and welcoming audience.
  • This is my first engagement during my trip to Japan, as my delegation and I have only arrived in Tokyo this morning. I am glad to start off my intensive programme on such a pleasant note.
  • In the coming hours, I will be honoured to represent Malta at the Enthronement Ceremony of His Majesty the Emperor. In so doing, I will be conveying our very best wishes for good health and every success to His Majesty The Emperor and Her Majesty The Empress on behalf of the People of Malta. I also look forward to listening to the message that His Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will share with us on this auspicious occasion.
  • I am a firm believer in people-to-people relations, and the crucial role these play in reinforcing political and commercial contacts between countries. I am therefore particularly pleased to note the wide range of ‘friends’ of Malta present here this evening.
  • I see businessmen, students, academics, politicians and professionals. Many have studied in Malta or have been to Malta. You all, dear guests, are a living testament of the excellent relations that bind our two countries.
  • I first visited Japan in 1997, in my capacity of Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Environment and it is a source of great satisfaction for me to visit again as Head of State. Despite the distance and different national characteristics, our two countries share the values ​​of freedom, democracy, and rule of law.
  • Along the years, we have consolidated a much-valued business relationship and discovered new avenues of cooperation in the fields of education, culture and tourism. As an avid promoter of youth mobility and exchanges, I welcome in particular the increasing numbers of Japanese students and young professionals visiting Malta to improve their knowledge of the English language.
  • Likewise, I encouarge Maltese youth to travel to Japan to disover the beauty of the country, the hospitality of its People and the richness of its culture.
  • This is a time to be ambitious on the further intensification and broadening of the Malta-Japan cooperation agenda.
  • There is great potential on all fronts and I was very satisfied by the announcement made by the Government of Malta about its intention to open a resident Embassy in Tokyo. Needless to say, this development will take our relations to unprecedented heights.
  • I am sure that the years to come will continue to see cooperation and exhanges on regional and international issues of common concern. Together we are addressing some of the world’s most challenging themes – like climate change and the preservation of land and marine environment.
  • We have very active contacts at a Governmental level – manisfesed most recently by the visit to Japan by the Hon. Prime Minister of Malta, Dr. Joseph Muscat and the visit of your Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whom I had the honour to welcome as Foreign Minister in 2017.
  • Our relations are also greatly enriched by an active Parliamentary dimension. I had the pleasure of welcoming the Japanese members of the Parliamentary Friendship Group in my Office in Malta only a few days ago, and was very impressed at their enthusiasm to build further contacts in the commercial, education, innovative technologies and services domains.
  • Experience shows that things work better when we work together.
  • I will now address my Maltese fellow citizens in our language.
  • Hu ta’ gost u pjaċir tiegħi niltaqa’ magħkom hawn illum, u nirringrzzjakom talli sibtu l-ħin tiġu tiltaqħu miegħi u ma’ marti Miriam. Kull fejn inżur madwar id-dinja, inħoss li wieħed mill-aktar mumenti sinifikanti taż-żjara jkunu dawk li jlaqqgħuni mal-komunitajiet ta’ Maltin ‘l bogħod minn xtutna.
  • F’dan il-każ, minħabba d-distanzi kbar li jifirdukom minn Malta, inħoss li l-laqgħa tagħna hija iktar u iktar emozjonanti. M’għandix dubju li kultant tħossu nostalġija lejn art twelidkom, u b’mod partikolari l-familja Maltija tagħkom. Nixtieqilkom kull hena u suċċess f’ħajjitkom u nħeġġiġkom iġġorru isem Malta, u l-ilsien Malti bl-akbar għożża u kburija.
  • I thank you and look forward to getting to know you better during the course of the evening.