The Council for Maltese Living Abroad (CMLA) held its eighth annual meeting over two days on 19 and 20 October 2017 at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promo-tion in Valletta. The meeting was the first one presided over by Minister Carmelo Abela, as ex officio chairman of the Council, who was appointed to the portfolio following the last general elections.
In his opening address Minister Abela welcomed the Council members and spoke about a new reality that exists today in which there are Maltese communities residing overseas for only a number of years, instead of emigrating for good, as used to happen in the past. Their needs must also be taken care of.
Minister Abela said that future CMLA meetings should be planned in a manner that takes this new reality into account with the Council becoming more conscious of the aspirations of the Maltese and alter the way it works.
The Minister referred to four guiding principles of foreign policy that relate to relations with the Maltese diaspora:
- the guarantee of regular and closer consultations with Maltese living abroad;
- the strengthening of political and commercial relations with countries where Maltese reside;
- the encouragement of the role that Maltese living abroad to support the promotion of Malta, particularly its commercial and business facilities;
- the facilitation of the work and activities of the CMLA.
Minister Abela said that the Maltese Government is committed to these principles and this commitment is reflected in its electoral programme, which mentions the strengthening and broaden-ing of relations with Maltese living abroad through the CMLA and, make sure that in these consultations, there is an increased involvement of youth and children of Maltese migrants in order to create stronger links with the younger generations.
The agenda for the meeting was wide-ranging and covered over 30 topics. Among these were:
- the long delays in the processing of Maltese citizenship applications,
- the continuation of Consul-on-the-Move programme,
- the digital platform for the teaching of the Maltese language,
- the teaching of the history of Maltese emigration in schools in Malta,
- the introduction of new words (neo-logisms) in the Maltese language,
- the establishment of a Maltese Cultural Institute,
- the effect of the new Maltese planning laws as they impact on Maltese property owners living abroad,
- the impact of Maltese income tax laws on Maltese living abroad,
- the setting up of registers of organisations and prominent Maltese living overseas,
- banking services by Maltese banks for Maltese communities abroad,
- the setting of a CMLA website,
- applications for funds from the EU for the benefit of organisations supporting Maltese living abroad
- the roadmap for Maltese diaspora relations with Malta,
- proposals for amendments to Act XX of 2011 which set up the CMLA, and
- dual citizenship and how it might impact the eligibility of Maltese-Australians to contest elections for the Australian parliament.