Our constitutional neutrality and our choice to take a new historical direction away from Malta's traditional role of serving as a military and naval base to wage wars on others help to make Malta a safer place for others and us.
Neutrality is good for us. Not serving as a military, naval and air base for other countries and their alliances is good for us. It makes good economic, political and military sense. As a state on the southern frontiers of the EU, it is also good for the EU and enhances its diversity and flexibility if it has a member state that can build on its reputation as an ideal meeting place for states, cultures and religions in conflict.
By being neutral and small and so not in a position to pose a threat to others, we can use our moral authority to speak up for peace, dialogue and negotiations in times of conflict. If these values are considered powerless in today's brutal world, we have enough examples to show that waging war is more expensive and simply reinforces a spiral of violence and further violence, and becomes part of the problem, not of the solution.
Our neutrality means that we will deny states, entities, terrorist organisations and individuals the use of our territory from where to threaten and hurt others. We have always been ready, and will remain ready to help people who are suffering, also by taking part in humanitarian initiatives co-ordinated by the United Nations.
Today other countries do not need to turn us into fixed air, naval and military bases for their forces. It is enough for them if we grant them regular access to our harbours and airport. This helps them assert their security interests in the region through their hovering presence. It is called the policy of "the passing gendarme". With so many closures of naval and military bases worldwide, mostly for financial reasons, a new, cheaper approach is being implemented. Countries like Malta that previously served as bases, now serve as "places" for regular visits by warships and passing military aircraft. The point of these regular visits is to tell the world: this territory is in our control and belongs to our zone of influence.
But we should not go back to the past that we cut ourselves off from what we achieved in 1979 with the closure of military and naval bases in Malta. If we do that we will destroy the entire valuable heritage acquired painfully by those that strove hard before our times to give us the necessary self-confidence and self-assertiveness to run these islands.
We celebrate the closure of naval and military bases in Malta not out of nostalgia or as partisan folklore but as a very sensible way to navigate in today's uncharted, dangerous seas.