[WATCH] President’s plea for unity: ‘We cannot overcome national challenges without national harmony’

President George Vella launches national conference for unity hoping for ‘frank admission’ of country’s divisions and faults

President George Vella
President George Vella

President George Vella has launched an unprecedented conference on “national unity” in Malta, as the former Labour foreign minister made a plea for a constructive dialogue on the lack of harmony in Malta’s social and political relations.

Vella admitted he was personally perturbed by the “state of disunity” in Malta, and that the conference had been on his mind throughout the last years of his erstwhile government career.

“The reactions to the proposal in the last weeks were varied: there were reactions of cynicism, others suspected some government self-interest, others truly welcomed the opportunity… some early contributions were truly detailed and interesting,” Vella said.

Vella said the divisions in the country appeared to be wide, but that nothing stopped people from addressing these problems.

“I have said my piece clearly enough on why this conference is need… but if we could just at least agree on what those issues are that are dividing us by the end of this conference, it would already be a big enough step. Then we can at least agree to do our best to address the situation.”

Vella posed some rhetorical questions to his audience, both at Verdala Palace and following live on Facebook: “Is Malta only for the Maltese or is it for all those who live here? What about the distribution of our economic growth, does it spread fairly to everyone? Are we really safeguarding the environment as our collective responsibility? And lastly, but not least, has our print and digital media been weaponised for the humiliation of others?”

Vella complained at the level of intolerance and incivility on social media displayed between people who disagree with each other. “Everyone has suddenly become ‘corrupt’, nobody is above suspicion, it’s as if nobody can be seen to be competent anymore… and this is simply far from the truth.”

Vella admitted he was not expecting ‘miracles’ from the forum. “I just hope that we learn a lot from this exercise. The first step is the hardest.”