Excellency, Honorary Consuls, Ladies and Gentlemen… dear friends.
It is a great honour to be addressing you, fellow Maltese citizens, French citizens of Maltese descent, and dear friends of Malta
France and its territories are home to the sixth largest Maltese community in the world after Australia, Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.
Your gathering today is representative of the over 600 Maltese citizens, and well-over 16,000 French of Maltese heritage, presently living in France – quite substantial when compared to Malta’s size.
Over the past century, the Maltese have spread throughout France and its territories, integrating extremely well into French society, setting a standard for other Maltese communities around the globe.
Today, a long list of Maltese citizens and French citizens of Maltese descent emerge as very successful and prominent citizens in all walks of French society – in politics, the arts, journalism, music, medicine, business, law … and the list continues.
Many are members of the seven Maltese diaspora organisations in France; others are in contact with our Embassy in Paris and with our eight Honorary Consulate offices in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyons, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Rouen, Tours, and Marseille and, soon to be established, an Honorary Consulate in Montpellier.
Simultaneously, others are involved in the seven town twinning projects between Maltese and French cities.
As a government, we truly cherish our diaspora. Via the Council for Maltese Living Abroad, we ensure that the rights and interests of Maltese living abroad are safeguarded. Through this structure, and through Conventions held every few years, we continue to strengthen our relation with Maltese living abroad, including the newer generations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Connecting and networking is essential not only in bilateral trade relations but also to ensure the preservation of the rich Franco-Maltese ties in other fields. Obtaining and transmitting Maltese citizenship to younger generations, visiting Malta, and knowing your family history, as well as exploring opportunities and doing business with Malta are all concrete ways how to enhance such connections.
Thousands of French citizens visit Malta each year, not only as tourists but also specifically to learn more about their family’s origins and attempt to find answers to questions related to their roots and their Franco-Maltese identity. Others opt for the experience of learning or improving their skills in the English language or, indeed, the Maltese language in Malta.
It is essential that we re-invigorate the unique bond that exists between the Maltese in Malta and the Maltese in France. Longstanding relations between Malta and France are deep-rooted in historical, geographical, and cultural friendships based on a common heritage, religious traditions, and strong European values shared by both countries on a bilateral level, as well as within the European Union framework.
This common understanding between both countries extends to several realms, ranging from economic and business ventures to cultural and political activities.
Malta and France are also attuned to an extensive maritime heritage and a common architectural legacy. Our capital, Valletta, which has been designated as one of the two European Cultural Capitals for 2018, owes its splendour to the French Grand Master, Jean de Valette, and a number of other Grand Masters, including a few of French origin.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we hold dear the history that we share, together we head towards the future. We are building Malta for tomorrow: for the next generations, and beyond. Malta has just become the world leader in blockchain technology and cyrtopcurrency, with a solid legal framework for potential investors to operate within the fintech sector. We have become the first country in the world to develop regulations for these new industries in the fintech sector.
This cutting edge development follows our country’s impressive record in attracting foreign investors in a wide sector of industry, both manufacturing and services, over the past decades.
In our endeavours to future-proof Malta, we welcome further cooperation with France, and specifically with entrepreneurs of Maltese heritage based in France. Our two countries could, for instance, enhance cooperation by extending trade relations beyond our respective shores. Malta could offer French traders and investors a facilitated gateway to North Africa and the Middle East.
Malta’s economic growth is second only to Germany in the European Union, with one of the lowest unemployment rates across Europe. The gross national income percentage for 2017 was an unprecedented 9 percent. There has never been a better time to consider Malta as a business partner as now.
Permit me to thank our Ambassador in Paris and our Honorary Consuls, for her steadfast commitment to enhancing Malta’s relations with France and to serve the interests of the Maltese diaspora.
I thank you all for joining us today and, more importantly, for your decision to renew your connection with your roots. Malta is always waiting for you to visit and to be engaged in the country’s development. You are, and will always be, considered full members of the Maltese family.