Minister for Foreign Affairs Evarist Bartolo said that no country will be safe unless all the world is safe. Referring to the current COVID-19 situation, the Minister used this as the underpinning message to the Diplomatic Corps. This annual event was held virtually this year given the constraints of the pandemic.
A world of contrasts
Confronted by a common enemy, said Minister Bartolo, one might have hoped that world leaders would take the opportunity to put differences aside and work together. “Covid-19 has brought out the best and the worst in us: selfishness and selflessness, caring and recklessness, national egoism and international cooperation, science and research to develop vaccines and the rejection of science and the embracing of conspiracy theories, the awareness that we are all human and vulnerable but also racism, stereotyping and stigmatization,” said the minister.
He said that success against Covid-19 depends on the level of co-operation between citizens, governments and countries.
The ability to make the world safe from Covid-19 and its social and economic impact still depends on how much governments and citizens cooperate to control the transmission of the virus. It also depends on how long it takes in each country for the vaccine to reach enough people to build global herd immunity noted Minister Bartolo adding that the health of the world economy depends on the effectiveness of the vaccination programmes.
Governance, said Minister Bartolo, will be become more difficult if unemployment rises and social protection is weakened. Popular unrest and social tension can create the right eco-system for populism to flourish.
This has implications for the future of Europe as elections will be held in a number of European countries in 2021 and next year, observed the minister. He asked countries will make the best use of digital technology for wealth and job creation, democratic and participative citizenship.
Minister Bartolo asked if 2021 was going to be the year when countries reach a Europe-wide agreement on the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, to prevent irregular migration. Such an agreement would also look to returning irregular migrants to their countries and promote sustainable legal migration.
It would safeguard human rights of migrants, fight human trafficking and smuggling, support transit countries to manage their borders and improve terms of trade with countries of origin so that they can create wealth and jobs for their people.
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