TONIO BORG: We discussed the Maltese community living in Australia, mostly in New South Wales and Victoria. In addition to discussion of measures of significance to them, we also discussed developments in North Africa. The Minister was very keen to know how Malta lived that experience and what our assessment today is regarding developments mostly in Libya and recently also in Egypt.
And, of course, we discussed also the Commonwealth. Australia and Malta are very effective members of the Commonwealth. Australia is a supporter of human rights and we discussed certain measures which we support in regards to the monitoring of human rights within the Commonwealth.
This was a second visit by a foreign minister of Australia to Malta in that last two years. So we are very happy to see him here.
Senator Carr is an experienced politician, very close to the Maltese community as well. In fact, he was the Premier of the State of New South Wales and a Maltese Australian was a Minister for Education and also Speaker of the House in the Parliament of New South Wales. I welcome you here and hope you will come again in the future to Malta.
BOB CARR: Thank you, Foreign Minister. Australia and Malta are very close. We are very proud in Australia of those Maltese who have taken up citizenship. There has been no migrant community in Australia that has been more ready to take up citizenship than the Maltese, and they were a wonderful addition to the Australian family with the mass immigration in the 1950s and 1960s.
I was proud to have my Minister for Education when I was Premier of New South Wales, John Aquilina, who was very proud of his Maltese heritage and returned here many times and briefed me many times on Malta.
We have in common our membership of the Commonwealth of nations. We discussed many Commonwealth issues. The Commonwealth is a community of polities committed to human rights and the rule of law. Australia and Malta have a lot to contribute to forums of the Commonwealth.
Malta has got an unrivalled knowledge of developments in North Africa, in the evolution of the Arab Spring. So I was indebted to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister for sharing with me their observations on what has happened and what is happening in Tunisia, in Libya and in Egypt.
More specifically, I wanted to thank the Government of Malta in the assistance they gave to us in being able to take 33 Australians during the evacuation of foreign nationals from Libya, and bring them here to Malta last year. Your support for intervention on behalf of foreign nationals trapped by the civil war was very, very important to us. We are indebted to Malta for having helped us rescue those Australians. We have appreciated Malta's role on Libya throughout and we are appreciative of the role Malta has had more broadly in supporting the supporters of democracy in North Africa and the Arab world.
So it is a great honour for me to be here in Malta. For me, coming to Malta is the fulfilment of a dream, a dream that has been planted in my imagination by the wonderful Maltese citizens of Australia.
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