President Vella attends the 18th Informal Meeting of the Arraiolos Group in Porto

President George Vella participated in the 18th Informal Meeting of the Heads of State of the Arraiolos Group in Porto, Portugal.

During the first working session of the informal meeting led by the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the heads of state condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Vella emphasised that Malta has been categorical all along in taking this stance through its vocal position as an elected member of the UN Security Council.

“Our status as a neutral country has not stopped us from taking action to tangibly assist Ukraine. Malta will continue to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine and fully support efforts that ensure EU assistance in addressing the humanitarian situation and the rebuilding and recovery of the country,” stated the President during the concluding press conference addressed by all the participating heads of state. President Vella added that other international partners also need to be engaged in the war in Ukraine and recalled his meeting in Malta with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, with whom he emphasised that China, with its political and economic clout, has a role to play in persuading Russia to end the war.

In the second working session, the focus shifted to the existing and emerging challenges facing the European Union. President Vella pointed out that the ongoing war on European soil reminds the Member States that stability in our neighbourhoods, including the Mediterranean and the Sahel, cannot be taken for granted. He stressed that commitments in this region should not be underestimated, and the prevailing instability, whether it is political, socio-economic, or related to migration, ultimately impacts Europe. During his intervention, President Vella addressed the climate emergency in the Mediterranean and discussed effective response strategies.

President Vella underlined Malta’s concerns regarding irregular migration as the European Union continues to witness a rise in irregular flows, with smuggling networks profiting at the expense of human lives. “We need to look for holistic solutions as part of a comprehensive partnership with countries of origin and transit”, reiterated the President.

In his last participation in the Arraiolos Group framework, President Vella thanked his colleagues for their support all throughout his tenure and congratulated President Rebelo de Sousa for hosting this meeting, “which turned out to be a memorable commemoration of the 20th anniversary since the Arraiolos Group was formed”.

 The first Arraiolos Group Meeting was held under the auspices of the late President Jorge Sampaio in 2003 in the Portuguese town of Arraiolos. Malta joined the group in 2015 and hosted the Arraiolos Meeting in 2017 and 2022.

 Photos (OPR)