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'Hosting seat shows consistency in Malta's policy'

Malta has received so much support for hosting the secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean that Croatia, which was also bidding for the seat withdrew its case, Speaker Anton Tabone said yesterday.

Addressing a news conference on his arrival from the inaugural session of the assembly in Amman, Jordan, Mr Tabone, who was accompanied by Nationalist MP Michael Gonzi, Labour MP George Vella, ambassador Alfred Zarb and John Mangion, from his office, said that Malta got the seat in recognition of its work for the setting up of the assembly.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, which gathers the 25 countries surrounding the Mediterranean, is the successor of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean and will be holding its assembly in Malta next year by which time the secretariat, at Palazzo Spinola in St Julians should be in operation.

Malta, whose Cabinet had months ago decided that should it get the seat of the secretariat, this would be housed at Palazzo Spinola, distributed a pamphlet on Palazzo Spinola and a video to all participants.

The secretariat will be financed by all the members of the assembly, who are represented in the assembly on an equal footing. Spain which used to be part of the CSCM has opted out of the assembly but the Maltese representatives are convinced it will be back eventually.

Dr Gonzi said that this was the first secretariat of such an important assembly to be housed here. Getting the secretariat had been no easy task and Malta had been lobbying for the past year and a half.

The seat will also help the country economically since certain committee and thematic meetings may also be held here.

Dr Vella said the secretariat will place Malta on the Mediterranean map in the political sense. Such a seat was giving the country a certain political stature and a means of promoting its policy. It was a certificate of Malta's past work and its consistency in its Mediterranean policy.

On its way home, the Maltese delegation stopped in Libya where it was congratulated on getting the secretariat's seat by the Libyan External Affairs secretary Suleiman Shahumi.

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