PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: Speech given by the President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca at the end of the 12th Heads of State Meeting of the Arraiolos Group in Sofia, Bulgaria

The annual meeting of non-executive Heads of State in Europe, gives us an opportunity to explore the rapid changes being experienced across our countries, regions, and beyond.

Thanks to these meetings, we are able to consider the future development of our European Union and how best to achieve it together.

This is my second meeting of the Arraiolos group and it is truly reassuring to note that our sincere narratives and constructive discussions were a true reflection of our diverse geopolitical positions, though being in the same union of nations.

While discussing how we can increase trust in the European Union in a period of growing risks and an unstable international order, it was acknowledged that the people of Europe need to feel more connected to their political institutions.

Examples were given of how Europeans need to feel safer. Of how they need to feel more cared for.

Of how they need to feel more included. Of how they need to feel more in control over their future.

I believe that the European Union must reform its politics in a manner that it becomes more synonymous with the politics of solidarity, inclusion and effective participation.

The politics that was intrinsically the basis of our forefathers’ vision, to achieve unity, peace and prosperity in an ailing Europe then.

Europeans cannot feel connected, secure and enjoying a sense of wellbeing, if one in four of us, lives in poverty and feels excluded.

Likewise, our young generation cannot feel connected if 1 in 3 of our children, and of our young people under 24, lives in poverty.

On similar lines, President Juncker, in his State of the Union address yesterday expressed clearly his vision for a more social Europe.

During the interesting discussion on the Balkans and their historic transformation, I reiterated my Government’s commitment to work favourably towards the accession process of the Balkan States which have committed their willingness to accede to the EU, in particular, during Malta’s EU Presidency in January 2017.

Europe today is facing new challenges from within. It is evident that EU nations need to build stronger networks among themselves.

Our leaders must be more connected to our peoples, as one union.

We must take these concerns seriously and, united in one common purpose, we must act in the best interests of our peoples.

It is only by working together that we can address contemporary security challenges, to create national and regional environments of unity, peace, and prosperity.

It is only by working together that we can foster a culture of global social solidarity and peaceful development, free from coercion and violence.

In achieving these goals, we must empower all people at the risk of poverty.

We must cultivate healthy environments which promote human dignity.

We must protect the planet from degradation by prioritizing sustainable forms of production and consumption

We must prioritise strategies of social inclusion, and welcome the participation of all individuals and communities who share a common commitment to the liberal ideals of our democracies

I look forward to welcoming my dear colleagues and their delegations to the Maltese Islands in 2017 for our next Arraiolos meeting, where we shall explore these topics in more detail.

My dear colleagues and friends, your valuable participation in Malta will continue to send a strong message that the future of Europe is inseparably linked to the wellbeing, the prosperity, and the peaceful development of our Europe and the entire world.

Source: Government of Malta