The Malta Independent 21 July 2018, Saturday

Daphne’s murder ‘does not reflect who we are as a country’ – PM in end of year speech

Sunday, 31 December 2017, 21:00 Last update: about 8 months ago

The murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia does not reflect who we are as a country, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in his end of year speech.

This is his full address to the nation:

As a country, we find ourselves at a very important moment. Where each one of us, without distinction, has a role to play in our society, a society that is experiencing continuous change. Change that sometimes, we and the people around us, may not always understand enough.

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Our country is moving forward at a very fast pace. The economy and wealth that is being generated is creating changes in our society and sometimes even new tensions. These are the challenges of a country that is coming of age, spreading its wings and travelling to places it has never been before.

A strong country, not only because our economy is at its peak, but also because the results of it are being felt by all our children and our families. The wealth generated is reaching those that need it most, and that is why I believe our country is getting stronger, because we measure results, by how much the quality of life of each one of you has improved.

I am proud that in this past year, you gave us the privilege of serving you again for another legislature. We promised you that if given your trust we will not stop half way and we will continue to make this country stronger. The strong vote of confidence you gave us is being reciprocated with more work, more diligence and above all by generating further wealth and a better quality of life for all of you.

This year, as a country, we passed through some difficult moments, particularly one that saddened all of us who love our people in an indescribable way. It hurt me on a human level. And it angered me in a way that I felt our country must react, this after the brutal murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Her murder does not reflect who we are as a country. Indeed, the angered reaction and sadness, and the need to react as a mature state that will not bow its head to criminals, confirms what I know of our people. People who can distinguish between what is right and wrong and are prepared to stop the few, the very few, bad elements in our society.

This year, I want to thank especially the men and women of our disciplined forces. The mothers and fathers that work tirelessly and many times without the recognition they deserve. Worse than that, they are degraded and suffer lack of respect. To the police, the armed forces, and the civil protection and to every person that has worked to ensure order in our country – I salute and thank you on behalf of our country.

The beauty of these islands remains the way that we unite as one country. Maybe because we place great value on the sense of family and love for those close to us. The value that trumps all rivalry is the love we show to our children, our friends, and those we live and work close to.

That is why I continue to believe in our country.

A country that although small, has the will to lead when asked, as we did when leading the Presidency of the European Union for six whole months of this year. It was a great moment to hear leaders of our European friends praising our country using adjectives that are not often heard of other countries going through the same experience. That is what we want to hear about our country, praise and not insults from those who may envy us.

We will start 2018 by placing our country again at centre stage on a European and Global level, by means of our capital city, our gem, the city of Valletta, as the European Capital of Culture. The remarkable work to prepare for this event is one that makes us proud again. Proud to be able to show off the jewels of this city such as the place we are in now, our National Library, our Co-Cathedral, the Auberges and Palaces that form part of our inheritance left by our ancestors. But not only that. We are also proud to show off our culture as a way of life. The pleasant way we live here in our country. The diverse ways of life and how we go about our day-to-day life, at work, in our homes and places of leisure.

We live in a beautiful country that knows how to love and live in peace. This is the country we must continue to show everyone, once we remove the divisiveness, sometimes puerile, that creates unnecessary tension.

A country where love does not discriminate. A country that provides work for everyone. That is passing through a time of great wealth and that wealth is being felt by everyone. As was the case with the budget without any taxes, we put forward for the commencing year, the fruit of which will be felt by all of you in the coming weeks.

We feel and live the pride of our country. Pride that has no political colour, has not one belief, has no stereotypes, everyone, even those who criticises us the most, sometimes in an aggressive way, can feel in the depth of their heart, a great sense of belonging towards our country.

This year that is now coming to a close, was a year of decisions, decisions that go beyond the electoral ones and those capable of dividing us. Decisions based on an image created about this country, a country that today has an unprecedented economic growth rate, that has an employment growth rate that outpaces that of our European partners, the lowest unemployment rate in our history, a reduction on those who depend on social services, a country that is once again focused on the future of its people. Except, the most important measure on our scales was that of social progress, which we will continue to do in the coming period.

In recent times, it was also confirmed that we reduced the number of people at risk of poverty by half in the last four years. These results show the difference that we can make in people’s lives.

Social progress was seen in the move towards marriage equality. I cannot remove the image from my mind of all the happiness I saw in the eyes of couples that will do anything for their loved one but because of the conservative forces of our country could not seal their love.

This social progress will not stop here and during the upcoming year, there will be one push after the other, because my colleagues and I are here to create change. We are here to strengthen what is good and fix that which can be mended. We are here, together with my colleagues to serve the Maltese and Gozitan population, without prejudice or distinction.

 Therefore, we will give all possible means to those two people who love each other to have a chance to raise their own child and not just imagine holding in their arms a child they could call son or daughter, all of this because of barriers that we politicians can fix, and we want to fix them.

We are here to offer hope to those suffering from serious, heart-breaking illnesses and we are ready to offer help to mitigate the suffering not only of those who are ill but also of those close to them, for example by giving the opportunity to prescribe medicinal marijuana as an alternative.

We will continue to be a shelter to those families who are going through social problems. We will continue to help pensioners, minimum-wage earners, those who need a helping hand to access the work force and we will continue to seriously tackle the rent problem while offering affordable housing to those who are really in need.

During the coming year, we will continue to invest in our infrastructure because that is the next step for a modern country like ours where every year tourist arrival in numbers four times greater than our population.

We will continue working to strengthen the educational sector because our children deserve the best, to strengthen the health service because this service should always be of the highest standard and above all, we will continue to preserve the environment we live in.

2018 will be the year when we will continue to push forward reforms on controversial subjects, which we cannot continue to sweep under the carpet. We are here to decide.

We will continue what we started in the past few years, after initiating discussions we will now extend voting rights to 16-year olds.

I am confident that in 2018 we will overcome all the challenges that will come our way. Because our country is endowed with a hard working nation that never succumbs to challenges. We need to thank you because the results that we achieved are thanks to each one of you that together make a strong nation.

On behalf of my wife, of our children, on behalf of the Government, from my heart, I wish all Maltese and Gozitans a new year filled with health, unity and peace.

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