Malta is the smallest state in the European Union and one of the few member states that was a colony of a former member state. Malta has had to struggle hard to become an independent republic and neutral state and build a viable economy and democracy for its people. So Malta can empathise with Kosovo, the smallest state in the Balkans and has had to suffer so much and for so long to become independent 13 years ago.

We make ours the words of Ali Podrimja when he writes:

“… Kosovo,

I know your silent desires, I know your dreams,

the winds that have been dormant for centuries, I know your sufferings, the joys, the deaths, I know your white births, your bold goals,

I know your blood that boils in your bosom, the waves when they beat you in the sleepless nights,

and explode like a volcano, better than anyone I know you, Kosovo … ”

As your neighbours in the Mediterranean we wish you well and would like to share with you our own experience of building our state institutions, creating wealth and jobs, fighting economic crime and corruption, nurturing a democratic political culture … none of these come easy and progress in them is neither straightforward, nor guaranteed. There will be setbacks but giving up is not an option.

We wish you well in your difficult endeavours to reverse centuries of marginalisation, discrimination and injustice. While learning from the past we must not let it crush our present and jeopardise the future.

Vengeance and retribution are very destructive as a proverb of your region says: Sharp acids corrode their own containers. The best way to show that you are better than your oppressors is to treat your minority better than you were treated as a minority.

We do not choose our neighbours. Anyway, as the ongoing pandemic is showing, in a small interconnected planet, we are all each other’s neighbours, and somehow or other, we influence each other for better or for worse.

However difficult and painful it is we must find ways of living with each other, at least as difficult neighbours and not as constant enemies, out to destroy each other. Compromise is painful but the alternative is much more painful as you very well know. Compromise must not mean capitulation and you have every right to work for the common good and dignity of your country and people.

As Nelson Mandela observes about his own role in the long painful struggle against the cruel apartheid system in South Africa: ‘If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner’.

We wish you well in your difficult task combining state building, economic growth, social justice, reconciliation and democratic life and we are ready to work together with you for the mutual benefit of our people.