By Martin Valentino,
Ambassador of the Republic of Malta.
Malta – A country with a Euro-Mediterranean vocation for peace and security. As a European country with a vocation to promote a Euro-Mediterranean dialogue, Malta has over the years undertaken initiatives which led to the establishment of permanent institutions, both of a regional and international character which promote the political, intellectual and cultural link both to the north and the south but also beyond.
Malta is host to the European Commission-League of Arab States Liaison Office which has the objective of formalizing relations between the European Commission and the Arab World and in 2008 hosted the first ever European Union – League of Arab States Ministerial meeting. The hosting in Malta of the Second Summit of the Western Mediterranean Forum, better known as the 5 + 5 in 2012 was yet another successful initiative by Malta in maintaining the open dialogue at the highest political level between the North and South.
Also the recent appointment of Ambassador George Saliba as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean, which has a membership of 43 countries from the Euro-Mediterranean region, gives added value and reinforces Malta’s deep interest and visibility in its role in the region. Another important initiative was the establishment in 1990 of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) which is an institution that offers advanced degrees in diplomacy and conflict resolution with a focus on Mediterranean issues for young diplomats from the Mediterranean region and beyond. MEDAC today has over 500 alumni from 53 different countries and has become a success story with young diplomats who today hold high and influential positions in their respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Missions. The Hon. Dr. George Vella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malta, has recently stated that “the Government of Malta is committed to continue supporting MEDAC. The current situation in the Mediterranean region needs more trained diplomats to be able to deal with different situations, conflicts and the building of new institutions since the Mediterranean is going through a period of change.”
As an island State, Malta has vested interests in the sea that surrounds us but also beyond our shores and another important institution based at the University of Malta is by far the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). IMLI is an international institution dedicated to the training of lawyers in international maritime law, including marine environmental law, law of the sea, shipping law and legislation drafting. IMLI was established by a statute promulgated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and under an agreement concluded between the IMO and the Government of Malta, and began to operate in October 1989. To date, the Institute has a total of 568 graduates from over 122 States and over the twenty-three year period since the inception of the Institute, students from the European and Mediterranean region and beyond have benefited from the high-level courses. These courses bring together lawyers specializing in maritime law who contribute to the common interests in this field and similar to MEDAC graduates today they hold senior positions within the maritime industry, both in the governmental and private sectors.
I wish to mention that Malta also hosts the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea which was established under the Mediterranean Action Plan of the UNEP, as well as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM). The Headquarters of the General Secretariat of PAM were established in Malta in November 2007, in recognition of Malta’s strategic role and commitment in organizing the PAM. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) is the forum where the Parliaments of the Euro-Mediterranean region come together and operate to reach those common objectives towards the creation of the best political, social, economic and cultural environment and conditions for the fellow citizens of the member states. PAM is a regional interstate organization, and an Observer at the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Assembly plays a fundamental role as an organization whose activities are firmly rooted as a complementary asset to the work of other regional and international bodies entrusted with the responsibility to foster security, stability and peace in the Mediterranean. PAM has established itself as the main actor in parliamentary diplomacy in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
These are only some of the institutions located in Malta and it is through institutions such as these that Malta, also through its foreign policy, will continue to play a proactive role in the promotion of peace and stability in the Euro-Mediterranean region.