Malta EU ambassador transferred to Spain as government downplays dismissal claims

Malta’s erstwhile Permanent Representative to the EU Daniel Azzopardi has been appointed Ambassador to Spain as part of a diplomatic musical chairs which has seen his predecessor Marlene Bonnici restored to the post

Azzopardi succeeds Ambassador Vanni Xuereb in Madrid, with Xuereb appointed Malta’s Ambassador in Germany: Bonnici’s previous posting.

A number of articles in local media, quoting government sources, suggested that the government had not been satisfied with Azzopardi’s performance in Brussels, and that this led to his removal.

Rotation of ambassadors ‘customary’

But in a statement, the government sought to downplay these claims.

“With regard to articles in the local media, the government recalls that it is customary and a normal practice for ambassadors to be rotated, especially when there is a new administration. The Government of Malta would also like to thank all three ambassadors for their sterling work, their respective contributions and their commitment,” the statement read.

Azzopardi had appointed to the Brussels post – possibly the most important of Maltese diplomatic postings – in 2018, having been nominated by then-Foreign Minister Helena Dalli. He had previously headed the Energy and Water Energy.

Bonnici had served as Permanent Representative to the EU between 2012 and 2018. She had replaced Richard Cachia Caruana, who had been ousted following a no-confidence vote in Parliament, which saw then-PN MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando vote with the Labour Opposition.