Christmas and New Year’s message
from the Hon. Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs – 2021
Bringing Maltese and Gozitans together
We might be a small country in size, but we have a big family spread all over the world and it is my pleasure to talk to you today and wish you a good year ahead, knowing full well that we will still be faced by the challenge of Covid-19 both to our health and livelihood. It has turned our lives upside down. Please stay safe and take all the necessary precautions to protect your health and that of those around you.
Maltese and Gozitans have been emigrating to all corners of the world for centuries. At first most of our people who had to emigrate because of unemployment and poverty, sought a better life in neighbouring Mediterranean countries.
Then since the 1800s they started venturing in faraway countries like Argentina, the United States and Australia. Today there are Maltese and Gozitans and their descendants in around 194 countries, practically in every country in the world. Like thousands of other Maltese and Gozitans I have relatives in at least three other countries on different sides of our planet.
There are about 120,000 first generation and 300,000 second and third generation Maltese living in other countries. This means that we have a diaspora of about 420,000, as many Maltese and Gozitans as we have in our islands.
A 2019 World Bank report shows that even today 24 per cent of all Maltese live outside Malta, putting the rate of emigration for the Maltese population as the highest out of any EU country. The destinations have changed as today we have new diasporas in Brussels and Luxembourg reflecting our membership of the European Union.
Despite all this I still feel that in our islands we are still not aware enough of the reality and history of emigration of our people throughout the centuries. I still feel that we still consider our history and reality of emigration as parallel to our history and reality on the islands.
I think that we need to address this and move towards becoming more aware and forging more links among the Maltese and Gozitans in the whole wide world and considering ourselves as one.
The technology of communication is at least making it more possible to have a closer community and to be more in touch with each other across the continents. We must strive to get even closer. May I wish you a healthy and prosperous 2022.
Minister for Foreign and European Affairs