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In a press release issued today, the Government of Malta announced the establishment of the Council of Maltese Living Abroad, which is a new advisory body set up under legislation that was unanimously approved by parliament late last year.
This Council was founded for the first time with representatives from Maltese communities living abroad. The setting up of this council fulfils a promise made by the Government during the Convention of Maltese Living Abroad that took place in Malta in March 2010.
The Council will be presided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tonio Borg, and consists of representatives appointed following consultation with Maltese communities from the following countries and regions:
- Victoria and New South Wales in Australia
- Other States in Australia
- United States of America
- Europe (other than the United Kingdom), and
- United Kingdom.
The Council also includes five people who have significant experience working with Maltese communities living abroad. The Council represents these communities in meetings with the Government of Malta and every other public authority. It monitors the standard of living of such communities and strengthens the links between them and the political, cultural, economical and social aspects of Malta.
Another function of the Council is to protect the rights and interests of these communities, while also upholding their Maltese cultural and linguistic identity. The Council will also promote Malta's immigration history and culture overseas, in particular the learning of the Maltese language.
The Council will provide advice to the Government on every legal bill that may impact the interests of Maltese living abroad as well as every administrative measure that is of particular interest to Maltese communities.
The Council has the responsibility of keeping a registry of non-governmental organisations overseas established by Maltese communities. Keeping a registry of prominent Maltese citizens that have distinguished themselves abroad is another responsibility of the Council.
The members of this Council are as follows:
1.Mr Lawrence Dimech and Mr Gaetano Pace from New South Wales, Australia
- Prof Maurice Cauchi and Dr Edwin Borg Manché from Victoria, Australia
- Mr Frank Scicluna from other states in Australia
- Mr Larry Zahra u Mr Louis Vella from United States of America
- Mr Joseph Scerri from Canada
- Mr Bernard Scerri from United Kingdom
- Mr Franklin Mamo from Europe
The five Maltese community experts living abroad that were chosen by the Prim Minister after consultation with the Opposition are:
1.Dr Roderic Bovingdon (Australia)
- Fr Alfred Vella (Migrants Commission, Malta)
- Mr Joseph Muscat (Gozo)
- Ms Carmen Galea (Canada)
- Ms Rosalie Rivett (United Kingdom)
The Secretary of the Council is Ms Doris Zammit.
The first meeting of the Council of Maltese living abroad will be held this year IN SEPTEMBER 2012. The law stipulates that this Council meets at least once a year in Malta. Such meetings may also be held via video or audio conferencing.
In its press release, the Government of Malta expressed its appreciation of the Opposition's cooperation in the selection of the committee members and in supporting the law during its passage through Parliament.
First meeting of the advisory Council held in Malta
Dr Tonio Borg making his welcome address at the first Council Meeting held in MaltaThe first
meeting of the advisory Council for Maltese Living Abroad took place over two
days on Tuesday and Wednesday 18th and 19th September at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in Malta's capital city, Valletta.
before commencement of the meeting, the members of the Council had the
opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, the Hon Dr Lawrence Gonzi, at the
Auberge de Castille.
day staretd with a welcome speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon
Dr Tonio Borg, who is the ex-officio chairperson. He spoke about the role of
the Council and other aspects relating to what is expected of the Councillors.
speech, Dr Borg said that during the last Convention, the Government had made
it clear that the time had come to establish a mechanism, preferably set up by
Law, that would be an official vehicle of communication and representation of
Maltese living aboard. "Today this promise is being fulfilled. This comes
after the approval by the House of Representatives late in 2011 of a Law on the
Council of Maltese Living Abroad. Following a lengthy process of consultation
the representatives if Maltese communities as well as five experts in the field
of migration were nominated," said Dr Borg.
Dr Borg said
that the Maltese Diaspora is one dispersed in various corners of the world but
notwithstanding the distances that might divide our communities and the
different environment of each one, a precious line connects them all. He wanted
these common factors to gain more strength by means of a Council that
represents in the widest possible terms, the different communities of Maltese
abroad. Amone these factors he mentioned the interest the communities nurture in
their country of residence, their ties to Malta, the preservation of culture
and language within our communities and integration in the country of adoption.
Dr Borg said
that the Council is in a position to bring great benefits. "Allow me in
this respect, to suggest that we come up with doable proposals rather than
grandiose projects that could, in view of their intrinsic ambitious goals, die
at inception. It goes without saying that there are small things that we can
do; more scholarships and aide to Maltese language teachers and students, more
knowledge on the history of migration in Malta, more recognition in Malta on
the fact that the idea of migration has ended and more emphasis on the concept
of a Maltese generation that lives both in Malta and abroad," said Dr
Dr Borg said
that urged the members of the Council to work together to ensure the success of
the Council. "Definitely, we need to show the unity we have, so that the
Maltese communities, in Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto or San Francisco, or in any
other city or country were Maltese have established their home feel that this
Council is theirs," said Dr Borg.
Borg said that Malta is small and its resources are also equally small. Yet
together we can establish structures without all the pomp and circumstance that
can promote Maltese Culture abroad; in particular in countries were we have
embassies that can assist. "The agenda for these two days is long, and we
will not discuss everything during this first meeting. I encourage all Maltese living
abroad to understand that this is their Council; even those Maltese communities
that due to the small number of members are not represented in the
Council," said Dr Borg.
these words of encouragement, Dr Borg declared open the first meeting of the
Council for Maltese living abroad.
Dr Borg then
introduced the Hon Dr Mario de Marco, Minister for Tourism, Culture and the
Environment (MTCE) who made a speech about the Maltese Cultural Institute and
how this plays a crtical role in the implementation of the Goverment's
international cultural policy. More presentations followed, namely one by Mrs
Marika Grech and Mr Caldon Mercieca (MTCE) as well as Mr John Buttigieg (MFA)
relating to the proposed Maltese Cultural Institute. A more detailed report on
this will be posted on this website in the near future.
afternoon there were presentations by the various delegates from the various
regions, namely, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States as
well as the European Union.
presentation about passports was presented by Mr Gaetano Vella, Director of
Passports and Mrs Linda Zahra, Director of the Public Registry.
day concluded with a discussion about procedural matters, relating particularly
to setting up mechanisms of teleconferencing, preparation of annual reports and
other relating house-keeping issues.
At the close
of the day session, members proceeded to the Emigrants Commission to be shown
the Migration museum. This has now reached an advanced stage of preparation and
there are already several facilities for the electronic viewing of many aspects
of the migration history.
The following day, Wednesday 19th September, was taken up with a discussion of
Article 3 of the Council for Maltese Living Abroad Act 2011, dealing with the
various responsibilities of the Council under the Act. Prof Joe Pirotta acted
as moderator for this session.
Over lunch, the group paid a visit to the President of Malta, HE Dr George Abela, who
welcomed and chatted informally with the individual members.
Theafternoon was taken with further presentations on issues of relevance to the
Maltese community. Mr Joe Mizzi, a consultant at MFA spoke about legislation
that concerns citizenship while Dr Vanni Xuereb, (Head of MEUSAC) spoke about
the role of this organisation vis-à-vis Maltese living abroad.
The meetingcame to an end with rapporteurs summarising the key topics and issues discussed
at the 2-day meeting.
All meeting participants felt that the objectives set for the Council's first meeting had
been met. Several views about a whole range of issues were discussed, and
several recommendations were made. The intention is for Council members to
communicate electronically over the next twelve months to conduct Council
business and develop further the details of these recommendations before its
next face-to-face meeting to take in Malta a year from now.
Dr Mario de Marco outlining the government's proposal on the Malta Cultural InstituteAt the
opening of the first meeting of the advisory Council for Maltese Living Abroad
that took place in Malta over two days on Tuesday and Wednesday 18th and 19th
September, Dr Mario de Marco, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the
Environment, outlined the proposal for the establishment of the Maltese Cultural Institute.
Dr de Marco emphasized the fact that many Maltese are now resident in foreign countries,
resulting in an urgent need for the promotion of Maltese culture in these
countries. "We recognise the potential of Maltese communities abroad to
contribute positively to Maltese culture and we do our utmost to facilitate and
encourage their active participation," he said.
The National Cultural Policy launched last year includes a chapter dealing with
International Cultural Cooperation. It emphasizes the potential for Malta to
act as a creative hub in the centre of the Mediterranean. It is an aim to place
Malta as an "attractive and contemporary creative centre in the
Mediterranean region". The Minister said that the Maltese Cultural
Institute "would be strategically placed as an important element for our
cultural and creative international presence."
Minister de Marco emphasized the importance of Malta as an "international platform
where creative workers, local and international, can create and develop
services that have a regional, European and global significance."
Among the list of 'present shortcomings', the minister emphasized that: "there is
room for the strengthening of ties with the Maltese Diaspora". On the
other hand, in discussing opportunities, the Minister highlighted the role of
"individuals of high quality and enterprises that operate on international
level and as such we can maximise on the fact that we already have Maltese
creative workers on an international level."
One of the aims of the Maltese Cultural Institute is 'the development of a Scheme of
Cultural Ambassadors that publicly acknowledge international achievements of
Maltese artists and cultural workers'.
It is expected that this Institute will be established through an agreement between
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the
Environment. The success of this institute depends on the cooperation of these
two ministries as well as the participation of other players in the field,
including public and private institutions, voluntary organisations and the
The Minister then summarised the aims of the Institute, namely of:
"providing effective governance for cultural diplomacy,
"coordinates annual allocations from a number of agencies and authorities so as to
assist in the mobility of artists and other cultural workers and artistic
works and collections of cultural heritage, whilst at the same time
binding the allocation of these resources to cultural promotion
"ensures overseas promotion of Maltese culture with an emphasis on excellence and
"consolidates the link between culture, tourism and diplomacy 4 where synergy will
result in economic benefits and the creation of jobs in our country."
Minister de Marco concluded by saying that "This is about strengthening the Maltese
cultural, economic and political ties with other countries through an active
dialogue and cultural cooperation. Cultural diplomacy shortens distances
between countries, serving as a powerful tool in bringing nations closer, in
bringing people closer together, to better understand and emphatise with the
other. Art and culture's language is universal and therefore it can reach where
any other language fails.