The Malta Independent 18 January 2019, Friday

Minister contacts Leeuwarden-Fryslân counterpart after V18’s sister capital boycotts Maltese events

Julian Bonnici Thursday, 26 April 2018, 16:47 Last update: about 10 months ago

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici has contacted his counterpart in the regional government of Leeuwarden-Fryslân, Valletta's sister European Capital of Culture,  after its committee decided not to send any more official representatives to Valletta, as long as V18 "does not distance itself from their offensive tone which refers, most notably, to the relatives of the murdered journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia."

Speaking to The Malta Independent, he said that he was disappointed to hear such remarks, but offered to meet in order to clear any misunderstandings between the two capitals of culture, and "hear the other side of the story."


"The conversation was positive," Bonnici said. 

Local artists, 72 MEPs, and PEN international writers for Jason Micallef's resignation over the irreparable damage he has caused to the reputation, programme and leadership of Valletta 2018, with Ulrich Fuchs, the Chairman of the committee that monitored  Valletta as European Capital for Culture in 2018, saying that he would not attend any V18 event "as long as people representing the project destroy European values."

Meanwhile, the common message sent by various Maltese and foreign members of the selection committee that awarded Valletta the title of the European Capital of Culture has also been that V18 Chairman Jason Micallef's post is untenable.

Asked for a comment and whether Micallef had offered his resignation since the developments, Bonnici said that his entire political career has been devoted to working against censorship and he could not in good conscious condemn someone for expressing their opinion "whether you agree with it or not."

Bonnici stressed that he always urged prudence in their discourse, especially from those who hold public positions.

With regards to the petitions, he said that everyone has the right to express themselves, and it was important to be "tolerant to opinions that you do not agree with it."

Pressed as to whether Micallef and other prominent officials' discourse had any effect on the recent spike in heavy-handed discourse from the general public towards activists.

"I have to be careful with my words," Bonnici said," but whoever lives in Malta knows that there are varied sentiments when it comes to things Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote; there were those who agreed, disagreed; those who were hurt, and those who enjoyed it. You can't attribute the things that are said on social media as the result of any person."

In the meantime V18 Chief Executive Officer Catherine Tabone in a Facebook post showed her support towards Micallef. She said that V18 team together with V18 chairman has based its work on the values of equality and inclusivity, collaborating with hundreds of local and international artists and creative practitioners.



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