The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

A French distinction for Ambassador Vanessa Frazier

Malta Independent Sunday, 13 April 2014, 11:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

 An invitation from the French ambassador and Mme Vanderpoorter took me once more to their residence in Zebbug, which is always a pleasure. This time I was attending  the presentation of the insigna of Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite, the national order created by Général  de Gaulle which was being given to Ambassador Vanessa Frazier.  

 The name Vanessa Frazier has regularly been in the news for a number of years now.  I often wondered if she were British, Maltese a mixture of both perhaps. Well that evening I was soon to find out that she is Mrs Miriam Vella’s niece since Mrs Vella and Vanessa’a mother are one of the Grima sisters.

Ambassador Frazier has been active in diplomacy since 1994 when she joined the Diplomatic Corps as desk officer for the US and the Americas and later on we find her in the Mediterranean Department. She was posted to the Maltese embassies in Washington, Rome, London and Belgium, Luxembourg and NATO before being appointed as Malta’s ambassador to Italy in October 2013, where she is also accredited to San Marino, the FAO and related UN bodies.

Her career could be called distinguished even if she were older, let alone for one so relatively young who also has been busy bringing up two small children. Apart from the various and varied duties in the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Frazier also held the post of Director of the Defence Matters Directorate within the Office of the Prime Minister where she was responsible for a wide range of international security issues. She was also responsible for Malta’s involvement in crises management operations overseas and advised and supported former Prime Minister Gonzi in the management and direction of the Armed Forces of Malta and acted as the civilian oversight of the AFM.

Friends, colleagues and several members of her family were present to share with her ithe happiness of this occasion together with her husband Marco and their children, Nicole and Julian.

The French ambassador gave a short, well prepared speech outlining  Ambassador Frazier’s career and achievements.  Ambassador Frazier obtained her degree in French at Luther College, where a large number of Maltese have studied over the years. She also obtained a BA in Business Management and went on to read for a Masters in diplomatic studies at the University of Malta with a major in International Law. In Ambassador Vanderpoorter’s words: “The perfect way to enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”  Ambassador Frazier was well qualified to take on the responsibilities of the US and the Americas and then of Mediterranean issues. The  French ambassador commented: “You also contributed to the implementation of your country’s active policy in the Mediterranean, participating in various regional meetings, in the maritime field since you represented Malta at the International Maritime Organization and in the development of a Global governance when you participated at the establishment of the International Criminal Court.”

M. Vanderpoorter pointed out the important role Ambassador Frazier played from 2006 t0 2012 as Director of Defence matters within the Office of the former Prime Minister. “You did a lot for European and Mediterranean defence and security issues, such as the 5 + 5 meetings on defence. During the difficult times of deep political change in North Africa, and notably during the uprising in Libya, you contributed by your permanent availability, personal commitment and remarkable efficiency to the very  high level of solidarity and cooperation that Malta offered to the people of the States involved.” This was done in close collaboration with the Armed Forces of Malta. In fact Brigadier Martin Xuereb and several army officers were present for the occasion. The French ambassador pointed out that together with her team, Ambassador Frazier organized a humanitarian hub which, for thousands of people evacuated from Libya, alleviated anxiety and suffering. Ambassador  Vanderpoorter ended by mentioning the French staff and their gratitude for her “quick and cooperative response when we had to ask clearance for an emergency landing due to bad weather or in-flight refueling difficuilties, or for the numerous calls of the French Navy. You were very helpful while protecting your country’s sovereignty and interests: a Rafale jet landing in Luqa among the tourists could be an attraction but certainly not a good advertisement for quiet holidays! In recognition of this remarkable action as senior official of a very close partner as is Malta to France and your commitment in the cooperation between our two countries, the President of the French Republic decided to bestow on you the distinction of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite which I am particularly happy to present to you.”

Vanessa was clearly moved by the whole ceremony.  She later told me that this was a rare occasion when she could publicly thank the persons that had helped along her journey and contributed to her success. In her acceptance speech she said that she was accepting the French decoration not only in her name but also in that of  her husband Marco “as without him I would not have been able to achieve so much in my career whilst also maintaining a healthy work-life balance.” She also thanked her mother “because she was always and remains an amazing role model for me. She always taught me to dream, to aim high and to chase those dreams, without her support I would not even have gone to University – in the late ‘80s we know the problems related to education that existed in Malta.”

Ambassador Frazier went on to thank her team at the Defence Matters Directorate. “This award was given to me specifically for the role I played in the Libya crises,” she emphasized. Then she had led Malta’s response to the crises and created the humanitarian hub which transferred aid to Libya. She was also one of the few that travelled to Libya regularly during the revolution to bring out injured persons – not only Libyans but those of various western nationalities too. “I brought out journalists, aid workers and also Libyan children who were injured as a result of the war as well as Libyan rebel fighters,”  she explained. She also assisted the foreign military who were operating in the NATO operation over Libya and  the French in particular with the emergency landings of their jets in Malta and the visits of their naval vessels for crew changes and re-stocking of their ships.

Ambassador Frazier also noted that in the over 20 years since she joined the Diplomatic Corps she has had some wonderful experiences. “I met many interesting people and have many mentors among my colleagues.” She thanked everyone who she worked with because she believes that everyone she meets is a teacher. She also commented, after thanking the French government for this distinction, because in this they are showing that they recognize the important role Malta played at the time. She is always happy whenever she is able to act as a role model to young persons, especially girls, as such events teach young girls that they too can aim high and achieve their dreams, she said.

I must say that at the reception afterwards I said to myself that today’s women have certainly come a long way from those of my generation who had to fight against the odds to even be allowed to put on nail varnish and a pair of slacks, as we then called trousers.  Well done to Vanessa and her husband Marco too because as women know only too well, if you have children without the support of a good husband you can get absolutely nowhere no matter how hardworking you are.

 

  • don't miss