On the initiative of President of Malta George Vella, the Conference for National Unity was held today. This platform for a mature discussion was organised through a hybrid event, held in two halls of the Verdala Palace and through social media.
The discussion was driven by a number of personalities from various walks of life including Prof. Carmen Sammut, Prof. Simone Borg, Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, Perit David Xuereb, Mr Mario Fava, Mr Reno Bugeja, and Mr Aleks Farrugia. Various individuals and representatives from non-governmental organisations and entities also participated.
In his opening speech, the President expressed his satisfaction that the very announcement that this initiative will be taken sparking a public discussion. Explaining his view that this will be a space where everyone can have their say, the President described the conference as the beginning of a process designed, first and foremost, to enable us to reveal and discover all issues that divide us, and to discuss this openly without prejudice and in a constructive manner.
The President expressed his wish that the conference leads to an agreement on what issues divide us, so that the second step would be to be humble enough to agree on how we can do our best together to address the situation. “Having national unity does not mean agreeing on everything, but there are factors without which unity will never be possible. We can make up for this by looking for, and finding, what already unites us, and strengthening that bond. I am very worried that we seem to have lost respect for each other. Without respect we cannot appreciate each other enough. We do not tolerate opposing views. We do not mind using derogatory, and sometimes abhorrent, terms on social media to attack others. It worries me that we seem to have lost trust in each other; that we seem to have lost trust in all institutions. The first step is always hard. Therefore, we need to work together on this project”, stated President Vella.
“We start with small steps but with a determination to slowly get there. I feel that this is our obligation towards all those of good will who are upset about the situation; towards those honest citizens, we have an obligation to offer them a less divided and more united society. We have the same obligation towards future generations – to pass on to them a better country than the one we are in today.”
In his closing remarks, after having listened to all speeches, the President expressed his satisfaction with the good and respectful way the discussion had taken place, with no subject being treated as taboo. He promised that this process, which was not stifled by the political parties, will continue in one form or another. “I am convinced that we all love our country, we all want to see our country better than it is today. If we continue to work together – and I ask you and I invite you to continue working together – I am convinced that we can make our country better than it is today.”
The conference was organised in collaboration with the Public Broadcasting Services, in full compliance with the recommendations of the health authorities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with the Office of the President, the State’s broadcasting service will produce a follow-up programme on the conference entitled ‘Seddaq il-Għaqda’, which will be broadcast on TVM on Sunday, 7th March 2021 at 10.05pm, with a repeat on TVM2 on Monday, 8th March 2021 at 6.30pm.