Photo: Minister Abela at the start of the FAC meeting (Credit: European Union)
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela told an EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting on Monday that Malta is currently drafting its very first Africa Strategy. Minister Abela was speaking during a session on EU-Africa relations, which was held to feed into the debate on a new comprehensive EU strategy for Africa and the preparations for the forthcoming ministerial and summit-level meeting between the EU and the African Union. He said that Malta looks forward to a new comprehensive EU strategy that ensures a positive agenda for the relations between the two continents, promoting a long-lasting relationship based on an equal partnership.
The FAC also discussed, inter alia, the EU’s work on human rights. Minister Abela stated that Malta reaffirms its commitment to the multilateral human rights system as the platform to best address human rights and to seek accountability. The country will continue to advocate for the protection of human rights in all fora, both at the EU level as well as at the United Nations. Focusing on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls as fundamental human rights, Minister Abela said that both are vital for economic growth, prosperity, and competitiveness. Despite the progress made, however, the level of achievement of gender equality has been uneven across regions and within countries. It is, therefore, important to ensure a greater focus on women and girls, as well as the mainstreaming of the gender perspective and equal representation of women and men at all levels.
The EU Foreign Ministers also exchanged views on the Council’s work ahead, as well as on its working methods, with the new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, for whom this was the first FAC meeting he chaired.
Before the FAC meeting, Minister Abela took part in a ministerial working breakfast, hosted by Nikos Dendias, the Greek Foreign Minister, with Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, and Gent Cakaj, Acting Foreign Minister of Albania. The meeting focused on EU enlargement and accession negotiations in support of Albania’s and North Macedonia’s EU accession path. Malta’s longstanding position on the Western Balkan region is that a stable and secure Western Balkans are inextricably tied to a more stable and secure Europe and the Mediterranean. In this light, Malta believes that the sooner EU accession negotiations are opened with Albania and North Macedonia, the better for both those two countries and the EU and its member states.