Mr President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, Fellow Colleagues…

Multilateral cooperation is critical for us to adapt effectively to the changing landscape of global power and to better confront present-day challenges like terrorism, cybercrime, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, rising populism and nationalism, and growing divisions.

As a pan-European organisation, the Council of Europe stands out as an ideal forum to tackle such issues. However, the welfare of the Organisation is regrettably in jeopardy.

An impasse at institutional level has continued to gather momentum, ushering in a precarious state of affairs that is impacting and limiting the Council’s operational activities and administrative framework. There is strength in unity, and any situation which may imperil such unity among Member States must be resolved in the general interest. Malta is committed to supporting initiatives aimed at finding a lasting solution.

The overall recognition and observance of fundamental human rights throughout Europe, just to highlight a major concern, is an acqui which is too precious to lose. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Council of Europe, this is indeed the right time to focus attention on the essence of the work undertaken by our Organisation. In this context, we are deeply indebted to outgoing Secretary General, Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, for setting in motion his future vision of a revamped dynamic organisation that best suits today’s needs and people’s legitimate expectations.

In the realm of equality and non-discrimination, another area of major concern, my country’s positive record places it among Europe’s highest achievers. Today we observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Malta is pleased to have retained its top ranking on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow map and index.

We have also launched an integration strategy and action plan for migrants, in attestation to the importance the country attributes to their integration in Maltese society. As for gender equality, Malta actively promotes quality employment, including in decision-making roles, for women, while encouraging an increase in women’s participation in Parliament. We have placed stronger safeguards to protect women from violence. A milestone achievement during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU was, in fact, the signing of the Istanbul Convention on behalf of the EU in June 2017, after we had already signed and ratified it as a country.

In conclusion, our sincere appreciation goes to the outgoing Finnish Chairmanship for the admirable way it conducted this Committee over the past six months, and for hosting today’s Ministerial.

We are sure that the incoming French Chair will achieve a lot over the next six months and, in this regard, we sincerely wish you, dear colleague, a successful chairmanship. Rest assured of the constructive approach and loyal support of the Maltese government in facing together the challenges that lie ahead of us.

Thank you.