Mr. Christopher Cutajar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, visited Egypt on 13-15 March 2023 where he held meetings related to political, commercial and cultural matters with various Egyptian stakeholders.
13-14 March 2023 (Cairo)
On 13 March, Mr. Cutajar held political consultations with his counterpart, H.E. Mr. Ihab Nasr, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs, within the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. These discussions, which in 2020 had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on bilateral relations (political, commercial and cultural) between Malta and Egypt, relations between Egypt and the EU, the challenges illegal immigration poses to both countries, climate change, as well as regional issues related to the Mediterranean, including the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Libya and Syria. The agenda also tackled the war in Ukraine and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
On 14 March,Mr. Cutajar held meetings with officials from the Ministry of International Cooperation, the League of Arab States and the Egyptian Senate. With Ms. Mira Ghali, Assistant Minister of International Cooperation for EU Bilateral Affairs, the Permanent Secretary discussed the status of cooperation between Malta and Egypt with a view to finalise pending agreements to be signed in the near future as well as explored further cooperation that could be beneficial to both parties.
With H.E. Mr. Khaled Manzalawi, Assistant Secretary General and Head of International Political Affairs at the League of Arab States, Mr. Cutajar discussed Mediterranean issues and how they interface with League members, as well as touched upon the latest developments related to the League of Arab States Liaison Office, the headquarters of which were opened in Malta on 14 October 2009.
Finally, Mr. Cutajar held a very constructive meeting with Mr Hazem Omar, Chairperson of the Foreign, Arab and African Affairs Committee at the Egyptian Senate, the country’s upper consultative house. Discussions focused on issues of common interest to Malta and Egypt, with a focus on the Mediterranean basin, combating illegal immigration and addressing its root causes, as well as the war in Ukraine and its consequences for both Malta and Egypt.
15 March 2023 (Alexandria)
During the second part of the visit, Mr. Cutajar travelled to Alexandria where he held meetings of a commercial and cultural nature.
Mr. Cutajar held talks with Mr. Ahmed El Wakil, Chairman of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria together with several Board members. During this meeting – which was facilitated by Eng. Samir El Alaily, Honorary Consul, Honorary Consulate of Malta (Alexandria) – the Permanent Secretary presented to the Board various opportunities that Malta could offer to the Egyptian business community as well as replied to questions from the Board related to the Maltese economy. This meeting will be followed up by an activity that the Embassy of Malta, in collaboration with Maltese stakeholders, will organise shortly in Cairo and Alexandria aimed at concretising the outcome of the discussions that the Permanent Secretary had with the Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria.
After this meeting, Mr. Cutajar proceeded to guided visits of the Latin Cemetery in Shatby and St. Catherine’s Cathedral. The Permanent Secretary first visited the tombs of members of the Maltese diaspora in Alexandria who are laid to rest at the Latin Cemetery. This was followed by a visit to St. Catherine’s Cathedral, which is the Latin Catholic Cathedral of the Franciscans of Egypt and in which is buried Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy until 1947. Of particular note within this Cathedral are the archives of records of baptisms, marriages, confirmations and deaths of the Maltese diaspora resident in Alexandria.
Finally, Mr. Cutajar visited the Bibliotheca Alexandrina where he first met with Prof. Ahmed Zayed, the library’s Director, who briefly explained the library’s history and its facilities. The meeting was followed by a guided tour of the library facilitated by Mr. Sherif Riad, Head of the External Relations Sector at the library who also assisted with the organisation of a public lecture delivered by Dr. Michael Refalo, a notary public and author of Among Others, The Maltese in Egypt: Life, Crime and Death (1860s-1923).
During the public lecture, entitled Egypt: A Home Away from Home for the Maltese, Dr. Refalo took the audience through various episodes related to the Maltese resident in Egypt. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session and a networking reception. The event was attended by military attachés, Honorary Consuls, academics, as well as members of the Maltese diaspora in Alexandria.
Throughout this visit, Mr. Cutajar was accompanied by H.E. Mr. Roberto Pace, Ambassador, Embassy of Malta (Egypt), Ms. Lina Al Nafouri, Deputy Head of Mission & Consul, Embassy of Malta (Egypt) and Mr. Ryan Sciberras, Policy Coordinator, Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade.
The Embassy, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, extends its heartfelt thanks to Eng. Samir El Alaily, Honorary Consul of Malta (Alexandria), Ms. Micheline Hatab, PA to the Ambassador, Embassy of Malta (Egypt), Ms. Dahlia Magdy, Manager, Honorary Consulate of Malta (Alexandria) and Mr. Nadim Kanawati, Director of Public relations and Protocols for the Franciscans in Egypt and the Catholic Church in Alexandria as well as a member of the Council for Maltese living abroad, for their invaluable support throughout the visit to Alexandria.