Speaking at the end of his official visit to Malta (29-30 March 2017), PACE President, Pedro Agramunt, praised Malta's commitment to the Council of Europe’s values and standards and for being a strong voice for the human rights of the most vulnerable.
“While today we are confronted with many challenges in Europe, Malta remains a solid partner to count on and a staunch defender of human rights across the continent. I was particularly impressed by the President of Malta's firm engagement towards the protection of the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and tackling violence against women. I have shared with the President information on the Assembly's initiatives on these and other priority areas, and I am glad we were able to identify concrete ways to cooperate closely in the future”.
President Agramunt also praised the priorities identified for the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union – in particular social inclusion and migration. Noting that the priorities largely correspond to the Assembly's current main areas of activity, he called for an increased cooperation on issues of mutual interest.
“Regarding the migration and refugee crisis, I totally share the Maltese approach focused on finding a pan-European solution based on the greatest solidarity possible and mutual understanding of each country’s perspective and concerns. Only if we work together with respect, and not in isolation, can we achieve effective results,” he said.
In this context, President Agramunt informed his counterparts that the Parliamentary Assembly is organising a major debate on migration during the June part-session and invited the Maltese delegation to actively participate in the discussions in order to share their experience and make their voice heard. "Each country’s position is important, and I hope that - together - we will be able to agree on a set of recommendations to address the current migration and asylum challenges".
Turning to some of Europe's other challenges – including the threat of terrorism, the rise of populist movements, as well as geopolitical challenges – President Agramunt stressed that “in these difficult times, the Council of Europe, as the guardian of human rights across the continent, has become more important than ever. But, in order to fully fulfill its potential and meet today's challenges, we need to give a new impetus to the Council of Europe’s work, strengthen its mission and define a clear and strategic vision for the years to come. I am glad that both the Maltese President and Prime Minister spoke in favour of the organisation of a Fourth Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government”, he stated.
Finally, President Agramunt thanked the Maltese authorities for their warm support for the PACE initiative #NoHateNoFear. "All my interlocutors highly welcomed the #NoHateNoFear initiative and agreed that we have to react strongly against terrorism if we do not want Europe to be ruled by fear and hatred. But, in doing so, we have to keep to the democratic values on which are societies are based", he said. "I look forward to further promote this initiative across Europe and beyond,” he concluded.
During his official visit, President Agramunt had bilateral meetings with Malta’s President, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Vella, and Speaker of Parliament, Anglu Farrugia. He also had an exchange of views with members of the Maltese delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly.
In the margins of the EPP Congress, PACE President met, among others, with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.