Foreign affairs’ work ‘invisible’ but indispensable – Vella

Foreign affairs minister George Vella said diplomatic efforts go unnoticed but are crucial in developing country’s political and economic ties 

Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella. Photo: Ray Attard
Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella. Photo: Ray Attard

Malta’s international relations do not tickle everybody’s fancy and as government’s three-week long public consultation process came to an end Thursday evening, foreign affairs minister George Vella told the small crowd present in Castille that although the work carried out by his ministry is largely invisible, it played a critical role in various sectors.

“Although most of our work is invisible, it doesn’t mean that nothing is being done,” he said, noting that diplomatic work was delicate and critical in maintaining and strengthening Malta’s relationship with other countries.

Vella underlined the sterling work carried out by Maltese embassies and diplomats abroad, especially in European and Mediterranean affairs and attracting foreign investment, especially in the Arabian Gulf where Malta is “achieving success.”

On the imminent developments in Brussels where EU leaders are discussing migration and the debt crisis, Vella declared that “nobody wants Greece to exit the eurozone.”

“The bottom line is what concessions the Greek government and its creditors will make,” Vella said, adding that a balance must be reached between the creditors’ demands and the precarious social and economic situation in Greece.

Turning to migration, Vella said the situation in the Middle East, especially the civil war and violence in Syria and Iraq triggered a wave of migration towards Northern Europe brought countries such as Sweden and Germany understand the challenges faced by Malta in recent years.

While stressing that the EU’s plans to destroy boats used by human traffickers in Libya were not happening any time soon since any action in Libya needs the UN Security Council’s blessing, Vella denied that the EU is contemplating any illegal action which would breach Libya’s sovereignty.

On the ongoing conflict in Libya, Vella said “we were the first to get UN special envoy Bernardino Leon and Libya’s internationally recognised Prime Minister together,” adding that if the parties involved show a desire to hold talks in Malta government would be more than willing to host the peace talks.

However, he said it was “untrue that Malta is taking a back seat or taking sides. We have no ulterior motives, beyond from seeing Libya return to being a stable, peaceful and prosperous country.” 

Sounding a positive note, Vella said that warring factions in Libya are finally realising that they must reach a compromise to end the violence and misery. 

Vella also had words of praise for Phyliss Muscat, who is responsible for organising the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in November. The minister said Muscat was “unjustly criticised” despite the preparations in place are the “best ever.”