I wish to thank all the members of the media present for this Joint Press Conference. According to Arraiolos tradition, all the heads of state present are invited to share their views and thoughts on the discussions we held during the course of the day.
Let me begin by thanking my colleagues for attending this meeting in Malta – the 17th since the formation of this Group in the year 2003.
I am sure to be speaking on behalf of all my colleagues when I warmly welcome the addition of the Slovak Republic to this Group. President Zuzana Čaputová, thank you for joining us for the Malta Arraiolos.
My engagements with my guests started yesterday evening when I met informally with those heads of state who had already arrived in Malta.
Our official deliberations today started with a first working session where we assessed the role of the EU and its members in the face of challenges and threats. We of course touched on the war in Ukraine and the wide-ranging consequences it has brought on all our countries, and the international community at large, not least its effects on the energy sector, rising commodity prices, and destabilising effects on our economies.
I take this opportunity to reiterate my outright condemnation of this unjustified and inexcusable war on Ukraine by Russia. No words are enough to condemn this atrocious disregard of international law and lack of respect for national sovereignty.
I also spoke to my colleagues about the worrying developments in Malta’s immediate neighbourhood, the Mediterranean, and stressed the need for the international community to keep these developments high on its agenda. I brought to the table the issue of irregular migration on the Central Mediterranean route and reiterated my calls for solidarity with frontline countries being put into practice.
Later on, during the second working session we discussed ways in which we could and should diminish global disparities and social injustices. We had a close look at the situation within the EU, and also reflected on its role in addressing disparities on a global level. In my intervention, I elaborated on the importance of effective Development policies, the role of women and youth in ensuring access to basic needs such as food, health, education, energy, and mobility.
In this context, reference was also made to the courage and the determination being shown by women in Iran, fighting off repression to achieve basic rights and fundamental freedoms.
During both sessions we spoke openly and frankly, like one would do with trusted partners.
While we may not have found immediate solutions to the threats and challenges around us, I am sure that the concerns and proposals we exchanged amongst us, have contributed greatly to understanding each other’s positions and perspectives.
My colleagues and I will be meeting again this evening for the Official Dinner that will bring the Malta Arraiolos to its conclusion.
Prior to the plenary meeting, I had very fruitful meetings yesterday with the presidents of Hungary and Slovenia. And I will also be meeting with more colleagues tomorrow hailing from Germany, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.
I will now give the floor to my colleagues so that they can share their thoughts.
I thank my colleagues for their active engagement during our discussions.
And I have to say that it is indeed an honour and a pleasure to host you all for this Arraiolos Meeting. I am looking forward to meeting you all again this evening.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the members of the local and international media for having followed our proceedings.
My special thanks go to the staff at my office for the huge task they have undertaken in organising this conference. I also thank the large number of other officials from various departments, too numerous to mention, who have made this conference possible. They deserve our appreciation.
The 17th Arraiolos Meeting is now over. We look forward to our next meeting in Portugal – where it all began 20 years ago. I am sure that our colleague President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will be an excellent host and I assure him of our full cooperation as outgoing hosts.
I wish all delegations a safe journey back home. I declare this press conference closed. Thank you very much.