Europe needs to revive the spirit of Helsinki - Minister Evarist Bartolo
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Europe needs to revive the spirit of Helsinki - Minister Evarist Bartolo

Reference Number: PR211606, Press Release Issue Date: Sep 03, 2021
Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo told an EU Congress it is time for Europe to call a Conference on Security and Co-operation in the Mediterranean which could be convened in 2025, the 50th anniversary of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held in Helsinki in 1975. There cannot be peace in Europe if there is no peace in the Mediterranean. Europe needs to revive the spirit of Helsinki, not only for Europe itself but for many regions around the world, indeed for the benefit of the future of our entire planet, Minister Bartolo said when he addressed the Forum Mediterranean: A Geostrategic Chessboard, in Bled, Slovenia, along with other Foreign Ministers from Cyprus, Greece, Slovenia and Portugal in Bled, Slovenia. 

Minister Bartolo said Europe must ensure that what happened in Afghanistan does not repeat itself in Libya keeping in mind that the rate of illegal migration in the central Mediterranean is higher than in other parts of Europe. Europe must strengthen its relations with other superpowers including China, keeping in mind that together with human respect there also exist political, social, and economic rights for all human beings.

“Malta was one of the first European countries to officially recognize China fifty years ago and over the years has built the best of relations with this country”, Minister Bartolo told the forum.

Minister Bartolo said that irrespective of political groupings, alliances, or blocks, we are also neighbours of all the countries to our North, South, East, and West. We have become so interconnected and interdependent that we are all neighbours to each other on this planet. Many initiatives are taken to bring together like-minded countries, but dialogue and negotiation are mostly needed with those with whom we least agree.

Minister Bartolo said that no one single country or a small cluster of countries can tackle effectively issues such as peace and security in the Mediterranean, together with the climate emergency, Covid-19 and other pandemics, migration, contested ownership of energy reserves, organised crime, artificial intelligence and automation, trade, and development.

Such an initiative can address complex issues like those in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Balkans, Cyprus, the Middle East, Libya. The arms trade continued to thrive even during Covid-19 with some badly hit countries finding money to buy arms but not enough funds to support their health systems and vaccine programme.

Minister Bartolo said that the issue of migration must be addressed comprehensively and that we need to get both shores of the Mediterranean to work much closer together on effective border management, fighting human trafficking, returning illegal migrants to their countries, providing shelter for those who qualify for asylum and building equal terms of trade with African countries to create wealth and jobs for those who have to look for them in Europe.

The European Union cannot afford to abandon the Mediterranean and Africa on its southern doorstep to other global and regional powers, emphasised Minister Bartolo.