PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE PROMOTION: Malta believes in a narrative of hope and progress as equal partners for EU and Arab countries

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela addressed the 3rd EU-Arab World Summit in Athens, an international event bringing together leaders, ministers, and other high-ranking government officials from around 30 European Union and Arab states, European Commission representatives, and influential business leaders.

This year, the two-day summit convened on the 29th and 30th of October 2018 under the theme of a ‘Shared Horizon’. It focused on the joint challenges and opportunities faced by the EU and the Arab world and debated topical issues such as migration policies; the challenging global environment; the respective neighbourhood policies vis-A�-vis the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Middle East; cooperation on climate change and energy transition; institution building and social movements; the digital economy; and the role of trasportation in promoting growth in trade and investment.

For too long, the narrative surrounding our two regions has been strikingly negative, said Minister Abela. The issues that frequently bring us around one table are migration, counter-terrorism, conflicts, extremism… For too long, our messages have been nuanced by perceptions, which diffused the energy and the enthusiasm to register progress on issues of mutual benefit. Whether to maintain this course or to change direction is up to us. The narrative of hope and progress as equal partners � each contributing positively for the benefit of our inter-regional relationship and for our own societies � is in our hands. Stressing that the involvement of young people in the process of change is paramount, he said that a ‘can-do’ attitude is essential for keeping up a steady pace for both societies to move forward toward achievement.

Minister Abela pointed out that over the years, Malta has consistently advocated a more visible and structured format of dialogue which would pave the way for a partnership between Europe and the Arab World. The country has been an active participant in the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue and in the Union for the Mediterranean. Furthermore, as a direct result of a Maltese initiative, the first European Union � League of Arab States (LAS) Ministerial Meeting was organised in Malta in 2008, establishing regular exchanges between the EU and the LAS.

Since 2009, Malta has proudly hosted the European Commission � LAS Liaison Office (ECLASLO), which is the only representative body that exemplifies the unique relationship between the two organisations. This office has promulgated a designed and desired message of inter-regional outreach, which Malta consistently advocates. Minister Abela congratulated this office for all its hard work to promote dialogue as well as a number of concrete projects relating to culture, crisis management, diplomatic training, network formation, and electoral observation. He urged that this liaison office continues to be assisted to increase its visibility by identifying new fields of cooperation, and other forward-looking initiatives.

The line-up of speakers at the summit also included Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Alexis Tsipras, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs & Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov.

On the margins of the summit, Minister Abela held bilateral meetings with Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, and with European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos. He was accompanied by Malta’s Ambassador to Greece Joseph Cuschieri and Director-General � Political, EU Affairs, and Maltese Abroad Maria Camilleri-Calleja.

Source: Government of Malta