This eventful year we’re bidding goodbye to, has been a sensational one for Malta and the Maltese, in many senses of the word. However, there should be no doubt that the dominating factor was the Island’s remarkable economic progress that continues to instil a general awareness of well-being reflected in many ways, not least by consecutive national and European public opinion polls and the solid trust of international credit agencies.

This sense of positivity shone throughout the whole 2017 which started with the highly-successful but challenging mantle of the Presidency of the European Union. In those very first six months of the year, Malta showed how proficiency, determination and dedication can after all overcome territorial, demographic and economic size. It was showing the world how punching above one’s weight is done!

As far as Malta’s European mission is concerned, also widely acknowledged is our prominent part in making possible the removal of roaming tariffs on mobile phones. This most welcome measure helped to finally establish and nurture a new image for the Union – that of seeking to assist the citizen – in contrast with the image of austerity that some European politicians had, in previous years, chosen to inflictupon several member nations. I am proud to have been part of this achievement as one of the negotiators of the deal.

At the European Parliament, I have also made it a point to speak and act on behalf of the disabled, and the sickthrough my interventions and conferences Ihosted…as well asfor those without a voice – the animals. Animals do not vote but they still have rights, for they are always there when needed,assisting humans in their everyday endeavours,offeringunconditional love and companionship, whilst many suffer in the hands ofhumans for their fun or nourishment.Animalshave no voice, but most times, they  have a heart much bigger than that of certain humans I can think of!

On the domestic front, the highlight was of course the June general election with its brief but highly tense campaign. The Labour Government  led by Joseph Muscat not only managed to win another mandate, but it also did so with gusto, attaining an even larger, historic majority. It was no doubt a victory for the politics of positivity, away from negative, old-style methods and styles, and certainly a reward for four years of rigid commitment to the cause of putting Malta back on track economically, politically and physically. It was certainly not a perfect government and we could have done without certain self-inflicted mistakes,  but if the  pros are weighed  against the cons, the pros will win hands down.

This roaring train was sadly and effectively derailed by the tragic murder of  Daphne Caruana Galizia, a heinous event that had the whole nation shocked into bitter realization of the dangers and the dark forces that exist within every successful and free society. Malta has had to pay its price internationally, alas, but the backlash can only be beaten – and it will be beaten – by more hard work, more positivity and more determination in the face of adversity and unscrupulous personal and political agendas. It will be beaten by seeking the justice we all want to see done.

There is,today, a keen sense of maturity among the Maltese, regardless of their political affiliations, and this will only help towards the creation of new generations of  well-meaning, gifted citizens who are neither willing to surrender their rights nor to ignore their responsibilities. More so at this stage in the nation’s life when results have shown that families count, skills can be attuned to new opportunities, and what was once a desperate country whose young men and women had no alternative to emigrating to far-flung places in their search for jobs and better futures, is today greeting thousands of foreign workers into its thriving economy.

There have been unsuccessful, sometimes even insipid, attempts at undermining all the success achieved during the past four and a half years, but facts speak louder than words. Having democratically confirmed last June its will to stay the course, Malta cannot look back. Standing united and staying positive in our majority has been the secret behind our success.We can only look at the year ahead – Valletta’s year, by the way – with confidence and the unique feeling that even more achievements are on the cards. Let us not forget that we are Maltese first and foremost; all other allegiances are secondary and we should not let them cloud the pride, or the loyalty we should feel for our country. Certain individuals playing in the political arena might wish to take note!

This being my last article for this year, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all The Independent readers a New 2018, full of happiness, prosperity, and above all, health.

The Malta Independent 28.12.17

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