Malta and Italy: a unique relationship

Italy and Malta have a special relationship, characterized by deep-rooted political, cultural and commercial ties, as well as shared historical experience and tradition. During my first year as Italian Ambassador to Malta, I have done my utmost to further strengthen existing ties and create new ones, in all relevant areas of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

After the difficult years of COVID, we are reviving the Italian presence in Malta, starting with events related to the celebrations of the 76th anniversary of the Italian Republic.

For example, this Sunday, at 8 p.m., the recording of an experimental musical event, ‘Hail Maris Stella. Polifonia di voci e sirene‘ will take place at the Grand Harbor in Valletta.

The show – free, directed by Maestro Marco Mencoboni and dedicated to our friendship – will be played from boats moored in the Grand Port. The event will be audible in the area along Floriana; in particular, the spaces of the King’s George Recreational Ground (located opposite the Italian Embassy), at the left corner of the Upper Barrakka Gardens, at the Telgħa tal-Kurċifiss, at the Herbert Ganado Gardens and along the section facing the quay of Triq Girolamo Cassar.

The Italian and Maltese people have a truly unique relationship, which began long before the birth of the two states. Italy has consistently supported Malta, providing strong political and economic support. Even today I am often reminded by Maltese friends of such support, implemented through five financial protocols which have offered essential assistance and capacity building in a wide range of areas over more than 20 years 1980 to early 2000s).

Italy has been one of Malta’s strongest supporters of EU membership, both politically and also by providing substantial assistance to facilitate the transition to EU legislation and standards. Projects scattered throughout Malta bear witness to this collaboration: upgrading the road network, waste disposal and treatment, restoring Malta’s extraordinary cultural heritage, supporting search and rescue capacities, combating floods and weather events. exceptional and much more.

Today, relations with Malta could be defined, in my opinion, as a virtuous example at bilateral, regional and European level. These relationships are strong at the highest institutional and interpersonal levels.

I would like to recall, as a symbol of such friendship, the many gestures of support from the Maltese authorities to the Italian citizens of Malta. Among many, the management and repatriation of Italian citizens during the various waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this cooperation – notwithstanding the limitations imposed by COVID-19 – during my first year as Ambassador of Italy, we managed to significantly increase political, economic, cultural and people-to-people relations between Rome and Valletta. .

At the political level, we have promoted numerous missions of key Maltese ministers to Italy and we have put in place key instruments to pursue dialogue on bilateral and multilateral topics, such as the environment, maritime and energy issues.

As for cultural activities, we have taken up the initiatives of the Italian Institute of Culture, promoting – for example – Malta’s classical musical heritage through Italian performers, starting with Maltese composer Girolamo Abos. The Farnesina Choir performed its brilliant Stabat Mater a few weeks ago, in premiere in the same church where the composer was baptized.

To date, Italy is by far Malta’s largest trading partner. Italy can offer Malta the highest level of expertise in many areas

As far as people-to-people contacts are concerned, we have recently concluded a twinning agreement between Pisa and Valletta and we are working on other twinnings.

At the economic level, we are committed to supporting bilateral trade flows. To date, Italy is by far Malta’s largest trading partner. Italian companies, from the pharmaceutical sector to manufacturing and shipping services, maintain a long history of presence here. With the support of the Italo-Maltese Chamber of Commerce, the Italian Embassy will continue to facilitate the creation of contacts and opportunities, while providing the necessary assistance to increase both Italian investments in Malta and investments Maltese in Italy.

Despite the challenging times of COVID-19, our business relationships have remained strong across all lines of business.

In the coming months, Italy and Malta will have to work together to take advantage of the opportunities generated by the “twin transitions”, green and digital, both agreed and stimulated at European level. I am aware that Malta has developed a solid reputation for using EU funds effectively. I am sure this will pave the way for effective cooperation in many sectors.

Long-standing relations, wide dissemination of the Italian language and geographical proximity are key elements for the strengthening of Italian-Maltese business relations, especially in the maritime, pharmaceutical, ICT, medical and tourism sectors.

As for the promotion and increase of Maltese exports, these are highly concentrated in a few sectors. Based on my experience, I would encourage to also use existing connections and spaces in Sicily to increase synergies in logistics, maintenance and servicing. This would support the export of Maltese goods and services to Italy, other EU countries and other states in the Mediterranean region.

Italy can offer Malta the highest level of expertise in many areas. So far, apart from the pharmaceutical sector, the largest manufacturing employer on the island is a multinational producing high-tech electrical components while another Italian investment has made local textile production possible.

We are working together to double the existing electricity interconnection and to increase sustainable energy connectivity in the years to come.

Allow me also to recall the contribution of Italian companies and academic centers to the preservation of Malta’s cultural heritage, which included extensive work on the fortifications, the restoration of several buildings and paintings as well as several archaeological missions led by Italy operating in the Maltese Archipelago.

Since Italian and Maltese priorities are very similar at European and multilateral level, the Embassy will endeavor to facilitate all possible contacts to improve and strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Our relations represent a positive example of the potential of the Mediterranean: we show that it is possible to build bridges, promoting dialogue, stability and growth in the region.

In cooperation with the University of Malta and the relevant local authorities, I will also do my best to ensure that the Italian language is learned, used and encouraged in Malta.

To stay informed of these initiatives, I invite our Maltese friends, as well as Italian citizens, to keep an eye on the websites of the Embassy and the Institute of Culture as well as on our social networks. You can find our official profiles on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Fabrizio Romano is Italian Ambassador to Malta.

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