President of Malta, George Vella stressed the importance that the development taking place in Gozo is not carried out to the detriment of the natural environment, which characterizes this island so much. Addressing the annual Gozo Award Ceremony, organized by the Circolo Gozitano and the Ministry for Gozo in Victoria, Gozo, he recalled that the natural environment is essential not only for the preservation of attractions in Gozo which attract external and internal tourism, but also to the physical and mental health of Gozitans themselves.
“We need to find a sustainable balance between new buildings and construction projects and the environment which, after all, we have a duty to protect, for ourselves and for those who come after us. Now, more than ever, we are touching a reality where open spaces and the natural environment are needed. I call, therefore, for more attention to be paid to these considerations when it comes to making such decisions,” said the President.
The President expressed his appreciation for Gozitans who have communicated with him in recent weeks about the impact that the current circumstances due to the progress of COVID-19 have had on the commercial and social aspects in Gozo and on the lives of individuals and families. He noted how, as always, the Gozitan spirit always remains combative and always sees the positive in challenges; “I know there is a sense of uncertainty about the future as tourist travel has come to a complete halt. This has, of course, had a direct and indirect impact on almost every sector and on every level. The common element that unites these challenges is the will to overcome this uncertainty,” said the President, “We all need to work towards one goal, to continue to find solutions together built on diversification, flexibility, and innovation. Above all, we must not lose hope that we will soon return to normal. Thankfully, the boost given to domestic tourism, especially that between Malta and Gozo, has more or less mitigated this impact. The natural beauty of this island has attracted thousands of Maltese who, instead of travelling abroad have enjoyed spending a short holiday here.”
During the ceremony, which has been held since 2005, the President of Malta presided over the awarding of the ‘Premju Ġieħ Għawdex’ to Chris Said and Justyne Caruana. He pointed out how, throughout their political careers – even beyond any official appointment or title – these two MPs have always placed the Gozitan community at the forefront of their work and have remained close to the people.
Prior to the ceremony, the President, together with Mrs. Vella, attended a solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Gozo Mons. Anton Teuma at the Gozo Cathedral. Afterwards, he placed a wreath in front of the memorial of Archpriest Saverio Cassar, who was the Head of the government of Gozo during the time of the French occupation and immediately after their departure.