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Statement by The Hon. Dr. Tonio Borg at opening of MFA training workshop

Posted Date: 09/06/2010

Department of Information Website

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website

Statement by The Hon. Dr. Tonio Borg, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs at the opening of the training Workshop co-organised with the European Commission on `Capacity Building Schemes` - Valletta – 9th June 2010 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a pleasure to welcome you to this workshop today.  Your presence in such numbers is testimony of the progress we have made since our membership of the European Union.  Whilst many of your organisations, did not even exist ten years ago, few if any of your organisations even contemplated reaching out to communities overseas.  To us any connection with developing countries overseas conjured images of church collections for missionaries abroad.  It is true that whilst one or two local NGOs ventured beyond our shores such as the projects initiated in Albania and in Sri Lanka, many local NGOs remained just that – local. 

Malta’s entry into the European Union changed all this.  Not only were NGOs given the opportunity to work beyond our shores but as a government we were called upon to set up a development directorate within our Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  This Directorate manages a budget of 330,000 Euro a year aimed at projects in the developing world.  Whilst many of you have already benefitted from this fund, others may wish to tap it in order to be able to run their projects overseas. 

Our commitment to ODA is at the heart of what I like to call our partnering policy.  In brief, the government has taken on the role of policy planner leaving the implementation to other stakeholders.  Society has changed and government has had to change with it.  We embrace the involvement of civil society in government policy making and are more than pleased to transfer the executive side of our development policy to those who do it the best – the Non-Governmental and Development Organisations. 

We have and will continue to partner with you in order to best represent our aspirations worldwide.  You are the agents of change and we rely on you in order to translate our policy into concrete actions on the ground.

Hence this workshop.  We are constantly taking stock of our present situation and are pleased with the progress we have registered in the area of development since our membership.  As with anything, however, there are areas where we could and we should improve.  On our end, my Ministry is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for our development policy ensuring that our NGOs make full use of the opportunities that the EU presents. 

With this in mind we are committed to workshops such as this in order to highlight best practice as well as give a better understand as to how the EU’s ODA programme works and how Maltese NGOs can tap it.  This we will continue to do within the context of our priority areas for our Overseas Development Policy. 

The objective of our development policy is clear – fight poverty and social injustice.  Our area of focus is centred mainly on the Horn of Africa.  This we have done in full recognition of our limited size and thus resources.  By concentrating on infrastructural projects in one area of the world we are giving our development policy a better chance of success.  And by success we mean a registered improvement in the lives of those recipients of our aid. 

We recognise that we have international obligations under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals as well as a duty as Members of the European Union.  We are looking for strong partnerships with Maltese NGOs with an aim to implementing our development policy effectively and in a timely and transparent manner.  Rest assured we are committed to the highest standards of quality and accountability.  Good practice will be rewarded and best practices showcased. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are a small country with a big heart.  The outpouring of support that emerges from Malta after any natural disaster across the world is testimony to this fact.  We do recognise, however, that we cannot limit ourselves to reacting to a crisis but must consistently be present overseas according to our commitments.  The key to our success is most definitely sustainability.  No longer are we a nation of tins and clothes so to speak.  On the contrary whilst we will still appeal for necessities in times of crisis, our development policy is and should be centred on long-term, sustainable projects.  We will give a man a fish but also ensure that we will give him a fishing rod in order to be able to catch the fish himself.

This is what our first NGO did in Sri Lanka post-Tsunami.  With the full backing of my Ministry, SOS Malta funded the purchase of fishing boats in a village in Sri Lanka rather then spending the same amount of money on food for the locals.  Such enterprises have made the fishing community sustainable and able to fend for themselves rather than dependent on international aid.

Within a few days, my Ministry will sign more than a dozen contracts with your organisations. We will together start working on more infrastructural projects, mostly in the horn of Africa utilising this year’s budget of €330,000.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the next two days you will be introduced to different aspects of development aid.  From the presentation of proposals to the drafting of reports.  Of course for any process there is a procedure and here you will learn all about it.  A few hours with these specialists can offer you the possibility of more and better projects overseas.

On our end our commitment is unequivocal.  Development has become and will remain an important pillar in our Foreign Policy goals.  Together with the EU we are committed to assisting and helping you with your projects in any way we can.  You are the executors of our policy and in you we trust to carry Malta’s name across the developing world to the people that need it most.  Words are a start but you deal with the action that changes lives. 

Whilst thanking all those who were involved in the organisation of this workshop, I wish you fruitful discussions.  Thank you.


DOI – 09.06.2010


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