PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

“For the first time, the Maltese Presidency will be organising a meeting at the end of next month bringing together in Malta the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the European Member States, the Southern Mediterranean Partners, as well as those of the Arab States and those of the Gulf countries.” – Minister George W. Vella

Yesterday afternoon, Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella paid a courtesy visit at the International Maritime Law Institute at the University of Malta where he delivered a statement about maritime challenges during the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Minister Vella was invited to visit the institute and meet the current intake of students by Professor David J. Attard, Director of the IMLI.

Addressing the students, George Vella said that, throughout the centuries, Malta has pursued its vocation as a guardian and as a promoter of the Mediterranean dimension. With this in mind, during the present Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Malta is highlighting the Southern Neighbourhood of the EU, particularly as there will not be another Mediterranean country holding the Presidency seat until 2020.

Minister Vella said that as he had stated when he had addressed the Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament a few weeks ago, “The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are dealing with serious crises, from socio-economic problems to violent conflicts, youth unemployment, radicalisation, damage to the environment and migration.” In this context, and for the first time, the Maltese Presidency will be organising a meeting at the end of next month (29 April 2017) bringing together in Malta the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the European Member States, the Southern Mediterranean Partners, as well as those of the Arab States and of the Gulf countries. This meeting will provide a forum for a debate on issues common to these countries including youth, inter-religious dialogue and culture and other soft security issues.

Minister Vella said that at a time when Malta is currently holding the Presidency of the European Union’s Council of Ministers, the Maltese Presidency has identified the EU Integrated Maritime Policy as one of the six political priorities of its six-month work programme.

Together with the other five priorities-migration, the Single Market, security, social inclusion, Europe’s Neighbourhood-maritime affairs is one of the critical links which binds together the other inter-related priorities which present us with challenges and opportunities.

Minister Vella stated that it is an acknowledged fact that the EU will be increasingly dependent in the years to come on the seas and oceans. As such, the Maltese Presidency provides an appropriate platform and a good opportunity to further evaluate the economic potential of the seas and oceans (Blue Growth), as well as the legal aspects stemming from the administration of and decisions about resources, maritime boundaries, and so on.

The sustainability and continuing development of the maritime sector under the EU Integrated Maritime Policy fits naturally with the legislative priorities of an outward-looking island nation in the southern Mediterranean.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said that Malta is therefore looking to the sea to ensure not only the sustainability of our oceans, and in particular the Mediterranean Sea which surrounds us, but also the challenge of an effective governance to promote growth in areas such as maritime tourism and freight by sea.

Source: Government of Malta