First Presidency Culture Symposium focuses on ‘Malta and France: Shared histories, new visions’
The Office of the President held the first in a series of Presidency Culture Symposia under the theme, ‘Malta and France: Shared histories, new visions’. The series is aimed at exploring and explaining Malta’s unique historical and cultural ties with important partners.
During his keynote speech, the President of Malta stated that the symposia are intended to highlight the crucial impact that cross-fertilisation has had on the moulding of Maltese identity.
He explained how Franco-Maltese cultural relations go beyond the few months of the presence of Republican France in Malta. He referred in particular to the Order of the Knights of St John which brought to Malta the first real, protracted contacts with French nobility, language, customs, and traditions.
Very tangible links also apply to present-day France, said the President, where mostly descendants of the Maltese diaspora of the early 20th century, who eventually moved on to France after the Wars of Independence in Algeria and Tunisia, actually settled and remain recognisable as being of Maltese descent through surnames. In conclusion, the President commented on how shared histories contribute to our present, as much as they contributed to our past.
Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo stated that Franco-Maltese relations will continue to improve in the future, as long as sincerely and with goodwill, we recognise and understand each other’s specific national interests, and irrespective of our size, respect each other as sovereign countries and work for a world where justice and democracy prevail, where people can live “free from fear and want”, where conflicts are resolved peacefully, where we find ways to live together in all our diversity and where might is not right.
French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, thanked the President of Malta for organising this Culture Symposia Series and described the choice of France as the first partner country in this series of Symposia as a great honour. He spoke about the importance of such initiatives to better understand common histories, the links between countries, as well as the difficulties, but also the common elements, of our common European culture that all Europeans – especially the young generation – need to understand and think about, especially in a bid to give the European Union a clearer identity.
The Ambassador of the French Republic to Malta, Brigitte Curmi, expressed her satisfaction with this initiative aimed at exploring the richness of the common heritage between the two countries, which can help to build a better future together.
In his concluding speech, the Ambassador of Malta to France, Carmelo Inguanez, pointed out that there is no future for sustainable bilateral relations without culture and emphasised the need to place culture at the heart of international cooperation. He mentioned contemporary thematic issues such as climate change and sea pollution, as well as global phenomena such as migration, on which Malta and France are on the same wavelength.
The schedule of the Conference can be downloaded here