The Malta Independent 6 December 2021, Monday

Foreign Affairs Minister addresses first EU Presidency meeting

Friday, 25 November 2016, 17:34 Last update: about 6 years ago

The first meeting under the auspices of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union was held in Valletta today. The informal Meeting of State Secretaries and Secretaries-General in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the EU Member States is traditionally held a few weeks before an EU Member State assumes the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Malta will take on this role on 1 January 2017.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Fiona Formosa welcomed her counterparts to Malta and led four sessions of discussions. On this occasion, the Minister for Foreign Affairs George. W. Vella presented the main areas of focus of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, namely: migration; the single market; security; social inclusion; the European neighbourhood; and maritime affairs. The programme of this event concluded with a visit to the European Asylum Support Office where presentations on the status of asylum in Europe were held.

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Minister Vella focused on the European Union's Southern Neighbourhood, in particular the situation in the Mediterranean, Minister Vella said Malta will give substantial consideration to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which is now embedded in the new Global Strategy, as it is Malta's conviction that it can play a vital role in improving the daily lives of people. He also underscored that Malta will ensure that the Western Balkan Region will be conferred its due attention. In this respect, Malta will continue to promote EU Enlargement and the Stabilization and Association Process.

In his closing remarks, Minister Vella underscored the role of regional and international organisations in enhancing regional cooperation and complementing the bilateral relations that exist between the EU Member States and neighbourhood countries. The further consolidation of EU policies towards both the south and the east has a fundamental role to play in helping us build a secure, peaceful and stable neighbourhood. Minister Vella also expressed his genuine conviction that diplomacy and dialogue pay dividends in the long term. In conclusion, Minister Vella noted that Malta is always keen to propose new and innovative ways of engaging with our neighbours; and in this spirit announced that Malta will be organising an event that brings together EU Foreign Ministers, Southern Partners and GCC countries in April 2017.

The meeting continued at with further discussions on the European Neighbourhood Policy through a presentation on its southern dimension by Prof Stephen Calleya, Director of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, and another by the European External Action Service on management issues. The meeting came to a close after a visit to the European Asylum Support Office in Valletta.


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