'I want a less divided country' - President launches Foundation for National Unity

The President said he wants to contribute to a less divided country, with this Foundation providing the framework for unity

President George Vella at the State of the Nation conference
President George Vella at the State of the Nation conference

Reflecting on divisions in Maltese society, President George Vella concluded the State of the Nation conference on Friday by saying that he would like to work towards a less divided country. 

In his concluding address, Vella noted how despite the sense of pride felt among the Maltese, there are still major divisions in Maltese society.

"I want to make a contribution to a less divided country," he said.

To do so, Vella announced that a Foundation for National Unity will be set up in the coming months, in order to evaluate what needs to be done when seeking out this unity.

He said that areas identified so far vary from environment, journalism, education and partisan politics. Vella also remarked on whether the environment, a salient point brought up throughout the conference, should be given a unique legal identity.

Referring back to the State of the Nation survey, the results of which were published at the start of the conference, Vella said that it provided an abundance of information to digest.

"Every one of these sections provides material for long discussions to be had at one point or another," he reflected.

Vella added how the results of the media section came as a surprise to him, with social media playing an important role not only in communication but also as a news source.

"If they don't bring me the newspapers in the morning I feel like I'll go crazy," he said, "yet nowadays I've learnt that there are only 1.3% like me".

The President expressed concern over how a third of survey respondents said that they aren't comfortable with multiculturalism, saying that it is not an easy figure to respond to. 

"We need to look at what is leading to this type of figure," he said. "There are many factors, including our size, that needs to be considered if one is to discuss the problem in a sincere and open way."

Malta has always risen to the occasion - PM

In his concluding speech, Prime Minister Robert Abela expressed a strong sense of pride in Malta and the manner by which the country addressed the pandemic.

"Every nation has its deficiencies, but Malta has always risen to the occasion," he said.

Abela added that the results of the survey came as no surprise to him, with the family remaining central to Maltese society. He said that Malta's community spirit is what provided for the successful management of the pandemic.

The Prime Minister celebrated the positive results of the survey, with a majority of the population reporting that they are happy to be living in Malta, and that only a small minority of people feel that they will be worse off in the future.

We need to heal our wounds - Opposition leader

On his part, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech warned that politicians are capable of creating good change, but also considerable damage that can continue even when one's political career has ended.

With reference to recent political developments, Grech said that these have case a dark shadow on Maltese politics, with a growing scepticism on whether those in power are acting in the national interest. 

"We lost faith in each other's genuineness," he said. "Let's not be scared of showing our wounds if we want to heal from them."

On political party media stations, Grech said that these need to be better regulated so as to foster mature and responsive dialogue amongst the Maltese electorate.

He also called for more state support towards independent media, with a transparent system by which government uses the media for advertising.