In a press release issued today, the Government of Malta announced the establishment of the Council of Maltese Living Abroad, which is a new advisory body set up under legislation that was unanimously approved by parliament late last year.
This Council was founded for the first time with representatives from Maltese communities living abroad. The setting up of this council fulfils a promise made by the Government during the Convention of Maltese Living Abroad that took place in Malta in March 2010.
The Council will be presided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tonio Borg, and consists of representatives appointed following consultation with Maltese communities from the following countries and regions:
- Victoria and New South Wales in Australia
- Other States in Australia
- United States of America
- Europe (other than the United Kingdom), and
- United Kingdom.
The Council also includes five people who have significant experience working with Maltese communities living abroad. The Council represents these communities in meetings with the Government of Malta and every other public authority. It monitors the standard of living of such communities and strengthens the links between them and the political, cultural, economical and social aspects of Malta.
Another function of the Council is to protect the rights and interests of these communities, while also upholding their Maltese cultural and linguistic identity. The Council will also promote Malta’s immigration history and culture overseas, in particular the learning of the Maltese language.
The Council will provide advice to the Government on every legal bill that may impact the interests of Maltese living abroad as well as every administrative measure that is of particular interest to Maltese communities.
The Council has the responsibility of keeping a registry of non-governmental organisations overseas established by Maltese communities. Keeping a registry of prominent Maltese citizens that have distinguished themselves abroad is another responsibility of the Council.
The members of this Council are as follows:
- Mr Lawrence Dimech and Mr Gaetano Pace from New South Wales, Australia
- Prof Maurice Cauchi and Dr Edwin Borg Manché from Victoria, Australia
- Mr Frank Scicluna from other states in Australia
- Mr Larry Zahra u Mr Louis Vella from United States of America
- Mr Joseph Sherri from Canada
- Mr Bernard Scerri from United Kingdom
- Mr Franklin Mamo from Europe
The five Maltese community experts living abroad that were chosen by the Prim Minister after consultation with the Opposition are:
- Mr Roderick Bovingdon (Australia)
- Fr Alfred Vella (Migrants Commission, Malta)
- Mr Joseph Muscat (Gozo)
- Ms Carmen Galea (Canada)
- Ms Rosalie Rivett (United Kingdom)
The Secretary of the Council is Ms Doris Zammit.
The first meeting of the Council of Maltese living abroad will be held this year. The law stipulates that this Council meets at least once a year in Malta. Such meetings may also be held via video or audio conferencing.
In its press release, the Government of Malta expressed its appreciation of the Opposition’s cooperation in the selection of the committee members and in supporting the law during its passage through Parliament.