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Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s 78th session.

Don’t turn back the clock, work together and ‘get the future right’, urges Prime Minister of Malta

UN Photo/Cia Pak
Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s 78th session.

Don’t turn back the clock, work together and ‘get the future right’, urges Prime Minister of Malta

UN Affairs

To make multilateralism work in this age of insecurity we need to ensure that a much wider group of voices are heard – in this United Nations, and around the globe, the Prime Minister of Malta said on Friday.

Robert Abela told leaders gathered for the UN General Assembly’s annual debate that the voices of all countries – large and small, rich and poor – and of all elements for civil society must be heard and play a role in building and sustaining a better world. 

“We must build a new age of security. Not by trying to turn the clock back. But by getting the future right!”

Going to highlight the importance of “rebuilding trust to achieve sustainability for all”, he underscored Malta’s commitment to diplomacy and multilateralism.

Malta is deeply committed to nurturing international relations and that his country, conscious of its unique geographic position at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, steps us in a pivotal role, building bridges and understanding between different traditions. 

He added, “Earlier this month we were proud to be just such a bridge.” Trusted by both sides, the country hosted talks between the United States Security Adviser and China’s Foreign Minister.

Russian aggression 

Regarding the war in Ukraine, he stated that Malta’s response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine and other crises around the world has been guided by the value of neutrality which is in enshrined in Malta’s constitution.

He added that Malta’s neutrality means that the nation will continue to be directly opposed to military aggression and unilateral action against the members of the international community and the rules-based order.

Talking about the consequences of the war, he said, “the already precarious situation of global food security has been made worse by the invasion of Ukraine and an estimated extra 122 million people have been pushed into hunger since 2019.” 

The Prime Minister urged Russia to rejoin the Black Sea Initiative and to stop disrupting delivery of vital food supplies leaving Ukraine to feed the world’s most needy. 

Good neighbourliness

Closer to home, Mr. Abela said that the situation in Libya is the most pressing issue in the Mediterranean region. As such, Malta wishes to see peaceful, stable, and prosperous Libya through a Libyan led political process and urged the international community to encourage this process. 

Stressing that the Libyan people need to recover and rebuild after the tragic devastation of storm Daniel, he stressed the importance of a lasting settlement in Libya, that will not only give Libyans the effective government they deserve but will also be imperative for peace in the whole Mediterranean region. 

Climate action

“The time for excuses is long over,” the Prime Minister said. Climate change is a very real emergency, the consequences of which are being felt in every part of the world. 

Current pledges and current targets are not sufficient to keep the 1.5°C objective of the Paris Agreement within reach.

Adding that for a maritime nation like Malta, the sea plays a profound part in Malta’s national life, he said “Rising sea levels are a severe threat to the security, the livelihood and indeed, the very existence of island countries like ours… which is why we have made climate and oceans the number one priority during our term at the United Nations Security Council.”

He emphasized, “We must preserve the sovereignty of the coastal states, no matter what the ravages of the sea. As island nations, we turn to the world, but we don’t turn our backs on each other.”

Small island developing States

Talking about how Malta experienced many of the same challenges which are currently being faced by developing countries, Mr. Abela shared how they have made raising awareness of the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States a top priority and why supporting sustainable development for island nations is a cornerstone of Malta’s foreign policy. 

Full statement available here.