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Heard in the hive

Spanish National Day reception

There was a sad note to the annual celebration of Spain's National Day in Malta, held on October 12 at the InterContinental Hotel, St George's.

This was because the Ambassador, Marta Vilardell Coma, had lost her husband, Eugenio Sebastian de Erice, just a fortnight previously, and so could not attend the reception.

This was announced at the reception by the counsellor at the Embassy, Luis Cacho López de la Calzada, in his address to the guests, led by President Fenech Adami.

However, he continued, the Ambassador would return to her post the following week.

Continuing, Mr Cacho López said October 12 has a remarkable significance for the 22 countries which make up the Hispanic community. For it was on this day, 515 years ago, that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World on behalf of the Catholic Spanish Kings.

Due to this discovery, Spanish has today become a world language spoken by more than 400 million people. It is in fact the fourth most widely spoken language after Chinese, Hindi, and English.

Mr Cacho López said migration is a need for both developed and developing countries today, but this must take place in a controlled and legal way. He said Spain and Malta must join forces to tackle illegal immigration.

That is why Spain welcomes the proposal by Franco Frattini, Vice-President and EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, to give a permanent basis to the Frontex mission of the European Union.

However, EU countries must never treat immigrants inhumanely.

Turning to the threat of international terrorism, Mr Cacho López said Spain is glad that in its determination to defeat terrorism, victims and their families have not been forgotten. Within this commitment, Spain also takes part in peacekeeping operations authorised by the UN Security Council in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

He paid tribute to Spanish military personnel who lost their lives in peacekeeping missions - only a couple of weeks previously, two of them died in Afghanistan.

Mr Cacho López said his country was now the eighth largest contributor to the United Nations system, and its goal is to devote 0.7 per cent of its GDP to development aid by 2012. Spain has strengthened its co-operation both in terms of human and economic resources, to the tune of almost €4.5 billion this year.

"We strive for access to drinking water and sanitation to be an effective and universal right," he continued. "Water will in fact be the central theme at the 2008 International Exposition being held in Zaragoza. This event will give participating countries such as Malta the main dimensions of water in the 21st century, such as environment, international co-operation and prospects for scientific, technological and economic management."

He said Spanish-Maltese relations were very good.

Mr Cacho López then proposed a toast to the friendship between Malta and Spain and for greater co-operation between the two countries.

President Fenech Adami began by expressing his condolences to the Spanish Ambassador on the loss of her husband, who had also served as his country's ambassador. He referred to the close historical links between Malta and Spain, saying that this was evident even from a visit to St John's Co-Cathedral.

Referring to illegal immigration, said Malta would co-operate with Italy and Spain to strengthen Frontex and to step up naval patrols to deter illegal immigration. Inter-national terrorism is a major threat too, but fortunately Malta has not been affected.

He ended by proposing a toast to King Juan Carlos and to Spanish-Maltese friendship and co-operation.

The speeches were followed by the Spanish, Maltese and EU anthems.

Vascas... defines perfection

When the directors of Vascas launched their competition for their company slogan on the local radio stations, they never dreamt that the response would be so strong.

"It took us weeks to finally choose the slogan," directors Mark Vassallo and Arthur Castillo said.

"It was not an easy task, since the slogan feedback was so positive. We were very satisfied with the public's response, and the entries gave us a clear picture of how people look at us as a company, which was gratifying."

The company's policy is to include the public's participation as much as possible in all its campaigns. Last year the company introduced "Face of Vascas", a competition which was a huge success.

This year the company is launching a new marketing campaign with a vast choice of jewellery from major brands, perfect for everyone's tastes and pockets... Vascas.. defines perfection.

YWCA (Malta) bids farewell to Austrian Ambassador

The Austrian Ambassador, Dr Elisabeth Kehrer, will leave Malta shortly after a three-year term. YWCA (Malta) president Mary J. Jones, together with members and the executive committee held a farewell reception in her honour last Friday week at the newly decorated Imperial Hotel in Sliema.

"Dr Kehrer has been very attentive to our projects and needs, striving to improve the lives of underprivileged women, and has come up with helpful and constructive suggestions over the past few years," Ms Jones said.

"The ambassador has always been very supportive of work carried out by the YWCA, and with her help and kind sponsorship, it has been possible to organise two very successful fund-raising concerts, which were not only rewarding in the good return, but also great fun for all concerned - organisers, performers and audience alike.

"Suffice it to say that the second concert was attended by exactly twice the number of people as the first. It was also a great pleasure for us to work together with her office in organising these events," Ms Jones added. A short farewell speech was delivered by Ms Susan Mompalao de Piro.

Ms Jones thanked Dr Kehrer for her contribution to YWCA, and presented her with a painting by Gillian Short, showing a Gozitan rural scene.

Dr Kehrer promised it would find a good home in her Vienna residence, and will always remind her of her time spent in Malta.

Ms Josephine Micallef presented her with a handmade necklace. All members present wished her farewell and success in her career.

Go Mobile hosts MEP

Joseph Muscat, a Member of the European Parliament, was recently hosted at the Go Mobile headquarters in Marsa. Mr Muscat was welcomed by Go Mobile CEO David Kay, director Peter Gauci, and other members of the senior management team.

Regulatory developments in Malta and the EU and Go Mobile's breakthrough in an 11-year-old market monopoly (a feat that gave consumers a first-time choice) were among the issues discussed.

Mr Muscat expressed his appreciation at Go Mobile's achievements throughout the years and for being the first Maltese operator to actually bring into effect the newly reduced EU roaming rates which he himself had authored at the European Parliament.

Throughout the meeting, Mr Muscat was presented with a detailed comparison of the market forces before and after the introduction of Go Mobile services and an overview of Go Mobile's operations. The company's landmark achievements - including the launch of the EDGE network in January 2005 , the launch of TV On Your Mobile (Go Mobile remains the only Maltese operator giving this service to date) and the exclusive and nationwide launch of 3.5G (HSDPA) technology in Malta and Gozo - were also referred to.

After the presentation, Mr Muscat was given a live demonstration of Go Mobile's wireless, broadband Internet service. This service recently experienced a surge in popularity after the rates were significantly reduced to make it more accessible to all those clients requiring broadband access on their laptops or PDAs.

Mr Muscat was later given a tour of Go Mobile's 24/7 call centre by Michael Balzan, head of customer care department, and a walk-through explanation of technical operations by the head of engineering department, Martin Zammit.

Westin Workout summer party

Westin Workout gym members and their guests were once again invited to the annual summer barbecue held at the Westin Dragonara Reef Club. With a turnout of around 400 people, the much awaited event kicked off with lively DJ music and continued by offering guests a lavish buffet barbecue.

To make the party even more entertaining, competitions for male and female members were also organised, with prizes offered by Time International.

The Westin Workout, which is spread on two levels, includes a gym area that features world class fitness equipment, including an entire range of cardiovascular machines on the upper level, and a heated indoor pool with saunas, jacuzzis and steam baths on the lower level.

Tennis enthusiasts will also enjoy a seaview tennis court, while sports enthusiasts can make full use of a multi-purpose court. Both courts may also be floodlit by night.

The centre is run by a team of professional trainers, who will always be there should one require assistance or advice. Yoga, aerobics and aqua aerobic classes are also organised throughout the year.

Swimming lessons and tennis coaching are available on request. The gym is open from Monday to Friday, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on weekends from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, call the Westin Workout on 2374-5596.

Dacoutros Winery's DOK wines

It is widely acknowledged that the European Union is the world's leading producer, consumer, exporter and importer of wine.

EU wines have earned an enviable reputation worldwide for their incomparable quality. The EU has a complex network of rules dealing with the classification of wine and the rules for making it.

In spite of this, the classification of wines varies considerably between member states.

The Maltese government has recently published the long-awaited legal notice (LN 167 of 2007), setting up the Denomination of Origin (DOK) and of Geographic Indications (IGT) wine production protocols regulations.

"We are more than excited at our winery in knowing that the local grapes we have been pressing in the past weeks will be labelled as DOK or IGT," the general manager of Dacoutros winery, Diana Cutajar Dacoutros, said.

For this special occasion, Dacoutros winery inaugurated new, cutting edge technology, including fully automatic crushing, pressing and chilling systems, which have been recently installed at their 125-year-old renovated winery, located at Xatt l-Ghassara, near the Valletta Waterfront.

This year's vintage at the Dacoutros winery is being orchestrated by renowned Greek oenologist Dimitris Gouravas, who holds a Ph.D. in oenology from the University of Bordeaux.

Mr Gouravas is currently in charge of nine wineries in Crete, Santorini, Kavalla, Nemea and Thessaloniki, seven of which are owned by John Boutari, Greece's largest wine-making group.

The Dacoutros DOK wines, which are expected to be available in Malta in October next year, will be joining wines from Greece for a new launch in Boston and New York.

The President and Mrs Fenech Adami's engagements - October 22-28

Tomorrow
10.30 a.m. The President receives Nigerian High Commissioner, Mohammed Kawu Ibrahim, on a farewell call at the Palace, Valletta.

Tuesday
10.30 a.m. Mrs Fenech Adami visits the Crafts Exhibition at the Zurrieq Day Centre.

Wednesday
9.45 a.m. Mrs Fenech Adami receives Birkirkara residents on a courtesy call at Verdala Palace.

10.30 The President receives members of the Association of Ex-Irish Parliamentarians on a courtesy call at the Palace, Valletta.

Noon Mrs Fenech Adami, accompanied by Roderick Chalmers, chairman, Bank of Valletta, presides over the launching of the Piggy Bank Campaign at San Anton School, Mgarr.

7.30 p.m. The President and Mrs Fenech Adami preside over a harp rectical by Caroline Calleja at San Anton Palace, Attard.

Thursday
10 a.m. The President is presented with credentials by Jorge Chen Charpentier, Ambassador of Mexico, at the Palace, Valletta.

11 The President is presented with credentials by the High Commissioner of Namibia, George M. Liswaniso, at the Palace.

1.15 p.m. The President and Mrs Fenech Adami host a luncheon in honour of the newly accredited Namibian High Commissioner and Mexican Ambassador at San Anton Palace.

7.30 The President and Mrs Fenech Adami attend a performance of Verdi's Macbeth at the Astra Theatre, Gozo.

Friday
9.45 a.m. The President receives the Speaker at the Palace, Valletta.

10 Mrs Fenech Adami presides over a Malta Community Chest Fund Working Committee at the Palace.

10.30 The President receives Dr Joe Micallef, honorary consul-general in Minnesota, accompanied by Mrs Micallef, on a courtesy call at the Palace.

Noon The President receives a group of London-based diplomats led by Dr Michael Refalo, Malta's High Commissioner to the UK, on a courtesy call at the Palace.

8 p.m. The President and Mrs Fenech Adami attend a reception hosted by the Austrian Ambassador, Dr Elisabeth Kehrer, marking Austria's National Day, at the Excelsior Hotel, Floriana.

Sunday
10 a.m. The President attends a thanksgiving concelebrated Mass by Mgr Joseph Farrugia to mark the end of his term of office as archpriest at St George's Basilica in Victoria, Gozo.

Archbishop's engagements - October 22-28

Tomorrow
9 a.m. The Archbishop meets Mgr Anton Portelli, administrative secretary of the Archdiocese.

10 The Archbishop presides over a delegates meeting at the Curia.

12.30 p.m. The Archbishop attends the Provincial Council of the Franciscan Conventuals at ZAK, Birkirkara.

6.30 The Archbishop meets Pastoral Unit 12 - Luqa, Paola (Christ the King and Lourdes), Sta Lucija and Tarxien - at Luqa parish church. The activity begins with Mass.

Tuesday
9.30 a.m. The Archbishop visits St Michael School, Pembroke.

6.30 p.m. The Archbishop meets Pastoral Unit 7 (the parishes of Gharghur, Mgarr, Mosta and Naxxar), at Mgarr parish church. The activity starts with the celebration of Mass.

Wednesday
9 a.m. The Archbishop meets priests giving pastoral service in Valletta.

7 p.m. The Archbishop visits the Santa Marija Community for Rehabilitation from Drugs, Hal Farrug.

Thursday
9.30 a.m. The Archbishop celebrates Mass at the Capuchins' church in Ghajn Dwieli, on MCAST's foundation day celebration. After Mass, the Archbishop will visit MCAST and lead a blessing ceremony in the chapel.

5 p.m. The Archbishop receives Dr Samantha Callan from the UK, the main speaker at a national conference on healthy marriages, to be held on Saturday.

7 The Archbishop attends the opening of the Charismatics' National Conference at St Agatha, Rabat.

Friday
8.30 a.m. The Archbishop visits St Francis School, Cospicua.

2.45 p.m. The Archbishop attends an international seminar on health care, at the Coastline Hotel, Salina Bay.

6 The Archbishop meets the parents of seminarians, at the Seminary, Tal-Virtù.

Saturday
9 a.m. The Archbishop attends the national conference on 'Healthy Marriages', at St Monica School, Gzira.

4.30 p.m. The Archbishop presides over a confirmation ceremony at Tarxien parish church.

Sunday
9.15 a.m. The Archbishop presides over a confirmation ceremony at the Holy Trinity parish church, Marsa.

4 .p.m. The Archbishop presides over a confirmation ceremony at San Gwann parish church.

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