Saudi-Maltese ties discussed

Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Maltese Parliament Speaker Angelo Ferrugia exchange commemorative gifts following a meeting in the Saudi capital on Tuesday. (SPA)

Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Maltese Parliament Speaker Angelo Ferrugia exchange commemorative gifts following a meeting in the Saudi capital on Tuesday. (SPA)

Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Maltese Parliament Speaker Angelo Farrugia discussed on Tuesday the bilateral relationship between the Kingdom and Malta.

“Saudi Arabia is an important country for us and we want to make our bilateral relations with the Kingdom closer,” Farrugia told Arab News in an exclusive interview at the Maltese Embassy in the Saudi capital.

He added that he was impressed with Prince Turki bin Abdullah, whom he described as “friendly, charismatic, willing to listen and made sure that a follow-up would be made on what was discussed during the meeting.”

Farrugia, who left last night, led a five-member Saudi-Maltese Parliamentary Friendship Group at the invitation of Shoura Council President Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sheikh for a three-day visit to the Kingdom.

He said that a closer bilateral relationship was expected since the two countries have a similar stance on international issues, such as the Libyan crisis, the Islamic State (IS) and the Palestinian issue, among others.

“Saudi Arabia is an advocate of peace. With the establishment of bilateral ties in 1973, the late King Faisal helped Malta to be more independent and prepared for the challenge of peace,” he said.

He added that he also discussed with the Riyadh governor what his country can do for Saudi students who are currently studying, or want to study, in Malta.

“We have renowned international colleges under the auspices of the United Nations. These include the International Maritime Law Institute, where students can enhance their knowledge on shipping law and the law of the sea,” he said.

He added that the Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies had also been established in Malta with the help of Switzerland.

“We have an agreement with the Kingdom that Saudi students come to Malta so that they could be professionally prepared to pursue a degree in diplomatic studies,” he said.

He added that the first institute on justice and the rule of law has been established in Malta this year with the sponsorship of Algeria, Tunis, Egypt, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom, among others.

“These countries realize that the institute has to be established in our country because Malta is a neutral country,” he said.

He added that it is also for this reason that Malta wanted to establish closer ties with the Kingdom, adding that the former is the only country in the European Union (EU) that’s constitutionally declared “a neutral country.”

“We want to make friends with all countries. We don’t take sides, but we speak to everyone and work for peace and there’s a lot to do on that front. In doing so, we exercise tolerance,” he said.

He added, “We observe basic human rights and in this connection, we don’t differentiate between Muslim and Christian. Everybody has to be treated equally.”

He added that being a neutral country, Malta was involved in humanitarian issues during the Libyan crisis.

“Foreign nationals fleeing Libya often return home from Malta. They include Filipinos, Chinese, Americans and European citizens,” he said, adding that Malta also received the wounded and had them treated at local hospitals.

Farrugia also invited Al-Sheikh to visit Malta. He also met with other Saudi officials during his visit.

 
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