Dear colleagues and friends…
Good morning. Allow me, at the outset, to welcome Deputy Minister Oren to the Ministry for the second day in a row.
Dr Oren needs no introduction. A former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, he is a visiting professor at both Harvard and Yale – a renowned scholar, a keen politician, a seasoned diplomat, and author of numerous books and articles on politics and history. Currently responsible for Israel’s Public Diplomacy, he continues to distinguish himself through the unstinting service he renders to his country. We are honoured to have him here with us today, to share his insight on what Israel has to offer to its neighbourhood and to the world.
Just over a month ago, I once again visited Israel, just six months after an earlier visit in December 2017. This latest visit provided both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Netanyahu, and myself, with another opportunity to discuss the deepening of our bilateral relations, increasing people-to-people contacts, and regional issues. We also discussed ways to revive the Middle East Peace Process. I took that opportunity to reiterate that Malta stands ready, if both sides so wish, to support any initiative that aims to breathe new life into the peace process, in concrete and tangible terms, with the aim of advancing the prospects of peace through the resumption of negotiations as soon as possible.
During this latest visit, we signed two Memoranda of Understanding. The first was with Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre – wherein we agreed to our Ministry of Education supporting the study of the Holocaust in Maltese schools. The second was signed in terms of cooperation in the Water sector.
While in Israel, I also participate in the official inauguration ceremony of the Malta-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, which will serve to consolidate even further our bilateral commercial and business contacts. I also vividly recall the enlightening exchange of views I had with students from the University of Haifa on Malta’s Mediterranean vocation, not to mention the warm welcome and the generous hospitality.
Our two countries today enjoy ongoing cooperation in several sectors: oil exploration, culture, trade, health, tourism, the environment, education, and water.
An increasing number of Israeli companies have set up shop in Malta, and our flag carrier, Air Malta, now operates 5 direct flights a week to and from Tel Aviv. While we are extremely proud of our recent accomplishments – including the first ever visit of a Maltese Prime Minister to Israel, in October 2013 – we certainly all agree that more can be done to identify other sectors of mutual interest. The opportunities are endless.
Israel’s successes over the last 70 years have drastically outdone its actual size. It is a recognised world leader in many fields, including water and agricultural technology, high-tech, medical devices, entrepreneurship, and research & innovation. Israeli achievements are recognised worldwide, with a high number of Israelis awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in literature, peace, economics, and chemistry.
So, we are all eager to learn more about Israel, about what it has to offer and, above all, about its dreams and aspirations for the future.
Thank you for your attention, and I now wish to invite Deputy Minister Oren to deliver his lecture.