Free and fair elections in Libya a priority for 2018, PM tells diplomats

Joseph Muscat stressed there could be no ‘true global peace’ without peace in the Mediterranean 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing the foreign diplomats in Malta
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressing the foreign diplomats in Malta

Support for free and fair elections in Libya by the international community was essential in the fight against trafficking and slavery in the region, Prime Minster Joseph Muscat said this afternoon.

Addressing members of the diplomatic corps at Castille, Muscat emphasised the need for stability in Libya and a close relationship with the country that ran “deeper than just diplomatic or political ties”.

He said that while “important strides’ had been made in curbing immigration, there was still much to be done in fight against “global ills”.

“As my predecessors and I have said before, there can be no true global peace without peace in the Mediterranean,” said Muscat, as he reflected on the year ahead. “And there can be no peace in the Mediterranean without stability in the region and a resolution to the Middle East conflict.”

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Muscat said the government was deeply worried by the conflict, adding that while Malta “whole-heartedly supported Israel’s right to existence and protection”, it remained a believer in the two-state peace settlement.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said Malta’s reputation as a beacon of economic hope, peace, prosperity and stability “remained steadfast” during 2017.

“Yet there have been some that, out of envy for our achievements, have endeavoured to besmirch that good name. During this trying time, you have been steadfast friends to our country, ensuring our nation maintains deeper and more open engagement with your respective countries,” Muscat told the diplomats present.

He said there was much to ponder and learn from the past year, including the fact that Malta had shown that it can “proudly play a leading role in the further development of the European Union”.

“As with all challenges, we took it head on, confident that through well thought out planning, open dialogue and determination we could achieve lasting results. And this we did,” he said, citing the removal of mobile roaming charges and policies on migration as key achievements of Malta’s presidency. 

“We did all this whilst at the same time steering through the biggest spectre haunting Europe ever since its inception - Brexit, and the rise of anti-European populist movements.” 

Turning to last June’s snap election and the political turmoil leading up to the announcement, Muscat said he had “determined that the time was ripe” for his government to seek re-confirmation of its agenda.

“I made this determination, as I could no longer allow those that wanted to scupper our progress succeed and turn back the clock on the myriad of achievements we obtained in our first four years.,” he said.

Ultimately, our agenda and progress is only as strong as the will of our people and it was in their hands that the faith of that progress lied. The vision and impetus that drove this Cabinet since the first day it entered office was resoundingly reconfirmed by the Maltese, and we assure you that we shall remain steadfast and ever most loyal to the confidence that our people have bestowed upon us.

Running through a list of the country’s “new records” generated by the country, Muscat said it had managed to achieve the “lowest unemployment in its history, record growth and “unprecedented surpluses”.

“We manage this by realising one simple truth - that nothing delivers better than belief and investment in our people and ourselves.”

“The wealth we have generated has been re-invested in our people ensuring that it reaches those that need it the most, in this way empowering all to become active and productive members of our society, for all have an important role to play in the progress of our country,” said Musact, adding that prosperity always had to have a purpose.

“There is no higher than ensuring that all, big or small, can have a belief in a brighter and better future.”

In 2018, Muscat said his administration would continue the economy remains strong, and that new opportunities are open “not only to our people, but alsofor other nations to work with us to create mutual benefit and growth.”

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