[WATCH] Malta calls on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and rejoin Black Sea grain deal

Prime Minister Robert Abela at the UN condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine • Malta's neutrality does not imply indifference to suffering

Prime Minister Robert Abela addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday
Prime Minister Robert Abela addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday

Prime Minister Robert Abela condemned Russia's continued violation of international law through its assault on Ukraine when addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday.

"Malta's neutrality means we will not tolerate military aggression and unilateral actions against members of the global community and the rules-based order," Abela said.

However, he also emphasised that Malta's commitment to neutrality did not imply indifference toward international crises, especially those that result in suffering and pain due to illegal invasions.

"In the spirit of peace, we call upon Russia to withdraw its forces from the sovereign territory of Ukraine, and we urge all nations gathered here to unite in bringing an end to the war," he urged.

Highlighting the devastating impact of the Ukraine conflict on global food security, Abela also called upon Russia to rejoin the Black Sea grain initiative to ensure grain exports from Ukraine.

Abela pointed out that since 2019, an estimated 122 million additional people worldwide had fallen into hunger, a situation exacerbated by the invasion of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed Malta's commitment to assisting neighbouring countries in addressing shared challenges, emphasising the importance of solidarity within the Mediterranean region.

"This is why I am proud that our capital, Valletta, will host the next summit of the EU's MED 9 members in just a few days' time," Abela said before turning to the situation in Libya.

Peace in the Mediterranean depends on Libya

Speaking briefly about the worsening political situation in Libya compounded by the natural disaster Storm Daniel, Abela emphasised that Libya represents the most pressing issue for the Mediterranean.

"The peace of our entire region hinges on achieving a lasting settlement there. Malta aspires to witness a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Libya through a Libyan-led political process," he stated.

The Prime Minister insisted that it is vital for the entire international community to provide the Libyan people with the support they need to overcome the instability, for which they have paid a high price.

"The imperative to recover and rebuild after the tragic devastation caused by Storm Daniel underscores the urgency and significance of a lasting settlement that grants all Libyans the effective government they deserve," he added.

Mentioning Malta's commitment as "a good neighbour," Abela recalled how Malta dispatched a rescue team from the army and Civil Protection Department to Libya to aid the rescue efforts in Derna.

Abela encourages UN leaders not to fear AI

When addressing the widespread uncertainty surrounding technological advancements, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), Abela stated that if leaders make the right decisions, the impact of AI can be a positive one.

Abela acknowledged the heightened concerns about the role of technology in society.

He criticised sensationalist media headlines that fuelled fears of "machines taking over," perpetuating the notion that AI would render human effort obsolete and take away jobs.

"The answer isn't to try to turn back the clock... to close our eyes to the inevitable and hope it will go away. Instead, the answer is to get the future right," he said.

The Prime Minister underscored the importance of harnessing AI's power for the public good rather than fearing it as “a looming catastrophe.”

He highlighted Malta's “proactive approach” in this regard, citing six pilot projects in areas ranging from healthcare to traffic management as examples of how AI could enhance public services and improve citizens' lives.