Although Malta has had an “excellent” bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia since 1975, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela discussed ways in which to further this cooperation with their Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Minister for Political and Economic Affairs Adel bin Siraj Mirdad. “We have not yet reached our bilateral relationship’s potential”, he said, identifying several possible areas from tourism, trade and investment, to transport, education, and the environment.
Minister Abela commended Saudi Arabia for its recent political, economic, and especially social reforms which he noted were unprecedented and could not have been easy for their government, whilst urging for this process to continue. He spoke about the importance of creating policies that allow women with children to return to work and the benefits this brings to the society as well as the economy.
Minister Abela added that their two peace-promoting nations need to work together and harder to create the stability and security required to promote peace in the region and beyond before discussing the situation in Libya, Qatar, Yemen, and Syria. He expressed concern at the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in the latter especially for children who were missing an education and could become a ‘lost generation’. “If we move forward and get results, they are results not just for the Saudi people and their region but also for the whole international community”.
Minister Abela also discussed Iran and reiterated Malta’s belief that dialogue and diplomacy is the best way forward and that Malta is committed to the upholding of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because it is a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation global architecture and a catalyst for the promulgation of security in the area. “The continued effective implementation of the JCPOA may increase the momentum and political will to overcome any additional challenges to non-proliferation”.
The Minister added that it’s important for Malta to bring people together to the table of dialogue and diplomacy, “which is why I believe passionately in the work which ECLASLO (European Commission – League of Arab States Liaison Office) is doing – it symbolises the spirit and cooperation between two prominent regions and must continue to do so in the coming future”.
Deputy Minister Mirdad was in Malta to Co-Chair the Malta-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission during which a Memorandum of Understanding for Scientific and Educational Cooperation was also signed. These, Minister Abela said, “would serve to strengthen the bilateral relationship between our two countries”.