Cementing Malta-UK relations

Malta, UK must ensure agreements improve the lives of the Maltese and British

Source: Times of Malta

Date: 17/02/2023

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth, and Development of the United Kingdom, James Cleverly, with Foreign Minister Ian Borg. Photo: Jonathan Borg

The complex geopolitical and economic challenges that Europe faces call for close cooperation between all European countries to consolidate their relationships and work together to ensure that we all prosper in a secure environment. Malta-UK relations have always been strong due to shared experiences over more than two centuries.

These relations can become even more robust thanks to a shared view on various issues of mutual interest, including “a common international outlook”.

In an opinion piece in Times of Malta, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote: “We are natural partners.

Our priorities in the United Nations Security Council are the same. We both want to see peace, justice and continued economic development across the world. Tackling climate change and defending human rights are equally dear to us both.” Malta’s Foreign Minister Ian Borg and Cleverly have signed a cooperation agreement covering several sectors, inducing foreign policy, security, defence, public administration, the rule of law, trade, climate change, education and health. But the backdrop to this “historic agreement”, as described by Borg, is the heightened geopolitical tensions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Borg was just as clear as his UK counterpart on where Malta stands in this conflict. He insisted: “During these testing times for the international community, with the unprovoked war initiated by the Russian Federation at the heart of Europe, Malta aspires to work closely with like-minded partners such as the UK.”

There are, of course, other more immediate issues that the UK-Malta agreement needs to address. For instance, the supply-chain difficulties that arose post-Brexit affect the availability of certain medicines produced in the UK.

Relations between the UK and the EU are entering a delicate phase as the two parties are trying to iron out trade-related disputes, especially those linked to the UK trade arrangements with Northern Ireland.

There is broad agreement that the UK’s decision to leave the EU is its biggest political mistake, which will take years, possibly decades, to rectify.

Hopefully, a solution will be found soon with some give and take from both sides to ensure that all European citizens benefit from good political and trade relations among all countries.

European politics are entering a new era. The relative calm of the last six decades may need new initiatives to ensure that it does not dissipate due to further security threats.

Defence and security have risen in the list of priorities that European leaders must address.

At the same time, other perennial challenges, like investment in the economy, education and health, can be managed more effectively through bilateral cooperation.

Historical links of friendship are a good rock base to build on. But Malta and the UK must aim to add value to their relationship by ensuring that agreements like the one just signed between the two counties ultimately improve the lives of the Maltese and British. Excellence in health services, education, robust security, law and order, sustainable economic growth, and cultural investment is shared aspirations for the UK and Malta.

Cleverly made a sobering remark when he argued that besides our countries’ “intertwined histories in peace and war, family ties and the bonds of a shared culture, it is our shared future that excites me most of all”.

Nearly 60 years after independence, Malta and the UK are cementing their relationship by cooperating to address the new challenges emerging in Europe. 

Tags: malta | UK |