2013 looks challenging - Francis Zammit Dimech
Minister of Foreign Affairs Francis Zammit Dimech described 2012 as a challenging year and that 2013 is looking just as hard, in his annual greeting with Ambassadors to Malta.
“The Arab Spring and the Libyan Crisis in particular constituted the largest test to Malta’s foreign and security policy since independence. Our position and proximity to Libya as well as the exceptional role we played throughout the initial stages, evacuations as well as throughout the conflict has left an undeniable mark on the way our foreign policy operates as well as the way we are viewed around the world,” he said.“ Malta stood up to be counted from day one with our Prime Minister taking the bold and decisive step to denounce the actions of the Regime and calling for Gadaffi to go. This Ministry worked around the clock ensuring the safety of 21,000 nationals from over 100 countries. This, together with upholding the strict sanctions regime, military vessels and aircraft movements as well as many other tasks that you are no doubt familiar with”.
He emphasizes that Malta would serve as a voice for the Mediterranean region within the institutions of the European Union. “The recent hosting of the 5+5 Summit of Heads of State and Government by Malta is testimony to our commitment to this cause. This comes with a plethora of issues that need to be looked at cohesively and conscientiously in the quest to find a reasonable resolution for all”.
The Minister also spoke about illegal immigration and the fact that Malta is on the front lines.
“We are working on a full review of the way we welcome migrants in Malta in full recognition of the fact that 10 years have passed since the first arrivals which in relative terms is not that long. We have made great progress and will continue to do so, fully cognisant of our international and European obligations as well as living up to our humanitarian credentials as a nation. Having said this we cannot go it alone”.
The Minister emphasized Malta’s position on a Palestinian state saying that “Malta has been a firm advocate of a viable and cohesive Palestinian state since our Independence. This should not come at the expense of Israel’s security. We are concerned at the expansion of settlements and wish to see both sides coming together on an equal footing in order to look for ways in which to co-exist peacefully and thrive economically in line with the two State concept”.
He concluded by commending the ideal of the EU and the solidarity that it brings.