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Lifetime of service to the nation

Guido de Marco with Yasser Arafat

Guido de Marco with Yasser Arafat

President Emeritus Guido de Marco was born in Valletta on July 22, 1931, son of the late Emanuele and Giovanna née Raniolo. He was educated at St Joseph High School, St Aloysius College and the University of Malta, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952 in philosophy, economics and Italian, and a Doctor of Laws in 1955.

He became a lecturer and later a professor of criminal law at the university but was perhaps better known as a top criminal lawyer who defended some landmark cases in the 1980s.

His illustrious political career began when he was elected to the House of Representatives on the Nationalist Party ticket in 1966. He was returned to Parliament at every general election. He was appointed secretary general of the PN in 1972 and was its deputy leader from 1977. He remained an MP until he was elected the sixth President of Malta on April 4, 1999.

Prof. de Marco was also elected by the House of Representatives to be a representative at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 1967, where he remained a member for almost 20 years, holding a variety of positions.

Deputy Prime Minister from 1987 to 1996 and 1998 to 1999, he was Interior and Justice Minister from 1987 to 1990 and Foreign Affairs Minister from 1990 to 1996 and 1998 to 1999.

During his tenure, he introduced several Bills that integrated important conventions, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, into domestic law. As Interior Minister, he led the reform and modernisation of the Police Force and founded the Police Academy.

One of his first acts as Foreign Minister was submitting Malta’s application for membership of the European Communities in Brussels on July 16, 1990. Stressing Malta’s European vocation, Prof. de Marco also underlined the validity of the Mediterranean dimension. He continued to promote and pursue the principle that the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue was a basic element in creating structures to consolidate regional security and cooperation.

He was also instrumental in consolidating Malta’s active contribution to the work of international organisations, including the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth.

A major highlight of his political career was when he was elected President of the 45th session of the UN General Assembly on September 18, 1990. During this time, he initiated a dialogue that later led to a presidential motion unanimously approved to revitalise the General Assembly and other aspects of reform necessary during a time of transition in international relations.

As its President, Prof. de Marco undertook a number of diplomatic initiatives, leading to his visit to the refugee camps in the occupied territories and Jordan, Ethiopia and Albania.

Between 1990 and 1996, Prof. de Marco also spearheaded other key initiatives in both bilateral and multilateral fields, including the expansion of Malta’s representation overseas and the conclusion of important agreements in areas essential for economic growth and cooperation.

On September 11, 1998, Prof. de Marco presented Malta’s request for the reactivation of its application for membership to the EU.

After the termination of office as President of Malta in 2004, Prof. de Marco was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation.

He published his autobiography, The Politics of Persuasion, among other publications, which offered an in-depth overview of Malta’s political and social history.

The author was in the ideal position to talk about the country’s political scenario through thick and thin and a score of other issues, being a protagonist of many events that shaped Malta’s contemporary history.

Prof. de Marco was married to Violet née Saliba and leaves behind three children, all members of the legal profession – his two daughters, Giannella and Fiorella, and his son, Mario, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism.

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