Italian President's state visit underlines close relations between Malta and Italy
Italian President Sergio Mattarella had talks with President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at the start of a two-day state visit to Malta today.
President Coleiro Preca told a press conference that the two countries enjoyed excellent relations and were continuing to collaborate in international fora.
She said an important step in the relationship between the two countries was the successful completion of the Malta-Sicily interconnector. Malta, she said, looks forwards to the same level of cooperation for the development of a natural gas pipeline.
She also observed that Italy remains Malta’s biggest trading partner, and ranks first in imports, and fifth in exports, with bilateral trade exceeding a billion euro every year. Moreover, there are approximately 3,320 firms working in Malta with Italian shareholding.
Italy is also Malta's second-biggest tourism source market.
The two Presidents also discussed migration. President Mattarella underlined the need to improve living conditions in countries of origin, to remove the need for migration. Conditions also needed to be improved in refugee camps in Libya.
He said the EU needed to guarantee legal and orderly routes to enter the bloc.
During his meeting, Dr Muscat said the migration problem was not just a humanitarian issue, but a security one.
Referring to a recent European Court judgment that upheld burden-sharing in the EU, Dr Muscat said that in the same way as Malta honoured its commitments and obligations, it expected other countries to do likewise.
President Mattarella praised Malta for its economic performance and for its presidency of the EU.