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George Borg Olivier’s relations with Communists following Independence

Newly unearthed Cabinet documents show that following Malta’s Independence in 1964, Prime Minister George Borg Olivier was resolute in establishing official relations with the then USSR. Flouting the near-obsessive admonitions of Archbishop Michael Gonzi, and riding roughshod over the intense politico-religious hostilities of the previous years between Dom Mintoff and the Church on precisely that issue, in his usual quiet and unobtrusive manner Borg Olivier sought to befriend the Soviets.

This new light on a forgotten chapter of Maltese history is shed by a book entitled A Materialist Revision of Maltese History: 1919-1979, researched and written by historian Mark Camilleri, that will be launched at the National Library in Valletta on September 28.

Borg Olivier’s move towards the USSR was not a turnabout decision. Neither was it a realignment of his foreign policy. It was made with the conviction that Malta’s relationship with the USSR had been held off far too long, and could no longer persist lest it antagonised the USSR. In those days Malta was the only European State without, as yet, official relations with the USSR.

Camilleri lifts this information from the Cabinet meetings held by the Nationalist government on July 22, 1966.

 In his new book, following on the heels of Il-Ħelsien (2014), Camilleri begins his narrative by examining the riots which occurred on June 7, 1919. The book is the second of a four-part series presenting a materialist revision of Maltese history. The first, covering from AD870 to 1919, was issued in 2016.

The launching of the book at the National Library on September 28 will be accompanied by an exclusive exhibition that will include the original documents of Malta’s 1921 self-government Constitution, the debates of the Legislative Assembly, the letter of King George VI granting the George Cross to Malta, the 1947 Constitution granting women’s suffrage, the 1964 Independence Declaration signed by Queen Elizabeth II, and an assortment of newspapers articles related to Malta’s 1974 Republic and 1979 Freedom Day.

The exhibition will be open prior to the event, which will start at 7pm. The book, A Materialist Revision of Maltese History: 1919-1979, is published by SKS.

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