The announcement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs that the Malta Government would establish an advisory Council made at the 2010 Convention of Maltese Living Abroad was met with a considerable degree of euphoria and optimism. That was in March 2010. Since then, a considerable amount of work has been done involving discussions between the Minister and Maltese organisations worldwide who were asked for their opinions in relation to setting up this committee. A Bill was drafted which became law late last year with the unanimous approval of both sides of the House of Representatives. It is, therefore, disappointing that, after all this, we seem to be passing though a lull in activity and losing momentum, where nothing seems to be happening. The membership of this Council has still not been announced and hence no Council meetings have taken place.
It is understandable that it is not an easy matter to select members for such an advisory Council. Nine members were to be selected from among Maltese living overseas, being five from Australia, two from the USA, and one each from the UK and Canada, and another five members residing in Malta. The task of selecting such members is the responsibility of the Minister, no doubt a difficult job, but one which has to be done, if the Council is going to become a reality any time soon.
Maltese Cultural Institute
Equally disappointing is the lack of progress in relation to the setting up of a ‘Maltese Cultural Institute’ to ensure the maintenance of culture within the widespread Maltese community overseas. One was hoping that by this time something concrete would have developed and announced by the Minister. It was envisaged that joint responsibility between the Ministries of Education and of Culture for the establishment of the Maltese Cultural Institute would result in a more efficient and effective delivery of service to the Maltese community overseas.
It was even hoped that representatives from this Institute, with special responsibilities to encourage the maintenance of Maltese culture abroad, would be located in the various embassies, High Commissions, or consulates of Malta around the world where there are substantial numbers of Maltese.
Unfortunately, none of this has happened, and worse still, there seems to be an embargo on any news relating to this topic. It is most unfortunate that even requests to the Minister to give us an update on the situation have gone unanswered.
We are still hopeful that this is only a temporary setback and that the Minister will soon announce definitive progress in the setting up of both the Advisory Council and the Cultural Institute.
We believe that the gestation period of more than two years since the announcement of this important Maltese diaspora engagement initiative by the Malta government should be brought to an end as soon as possible with the birth of these two new organisations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just informed us that the composition of the Advisory Council is at an advanced stage and the consultation process with the Opposition is taking place according to the law. Work on the legal framework for the Maltese Cultural Institute is under way and it will then be referred to Parliament for approval. This is also at an advanced stage.