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R. Cutajar: Address to ILC

Address to International Leadership Conference 2019, Seoul, Korea, August 15-18, 2019


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!

It is a pleasure and indeed an honor to be here with you tonight. I would like, first and foremost, to thank UPF for giving me the opportunity to be part of this World Summit here in Korea. Actually, I was here for the last three days during which we strived to find the best ways how we can make a better world—a better world not just for all of us, the current world population, but for all the generations to come. We are duty bound to leave a much better world than the one we found.

I feel privileged to share with you all at this last event of this conference in which I will elicit some reflections from what we have heard over these three days. My first overall reaction is definitely a positive one, but I would like to impart some observations which I feel duty bound to highlight so that next year’s summit will be even more fruitful than the ones we have already been part of so far.

Over the last three days, we participated in discussions about the values of peace, the family and love. We mentioned, heavy-heartedly, what is the root of various concerns such as conflict, corruption, bad or poor governance and selfishness, to mention just a few.

Please allow me to share with you the following thoughts—not doing so will surely leave me disturbed while heading back home to Malta tomorrow. How can I, while being part of this conference, forget or ignore what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea exactly right now while I am addressing you? This sea, which has been the cradle of world civilization since the first settlements in Jericho in 9000 B.C., is now more of a mass grave for African immigrants than anything else.

How can I, while addressing you all, forget or ignore the unprecedented populism we all have around us? Cheap populism which unfortunately is on the increase at the expense of the value of life. Life is so valuable and precious, so much so that we should leave no stone unturned to protect and save each and every life which is being lost in the Mediterranean Sea. I would like to quote the leader of the Nationalist Party in Malta, the leader of the Opposition, Dr. Adrian Delia, where he aptly asks all stakeholders to avoid populism. His words: “Let’s lead by example, rise above populism, and save lives. Political muscle must be shown but not at the expense of human lives.”

In June 2013, Pope Francis took his first official trip outside of Rome to the island of Lampedusa in Sicily, where he celebrated mass to commemorate the thousands of migrants who had died crossing the Mediterranean. He thanked the people of Lampedusa for demonstrating solidarity and resisting the temptation to slide into “the globalization of indifference.” In this homily and in other statements, the Holy Father has invited his listeners to treat migrants with acceptance and solidarity, to empathize with them and to recognize their value and human potential. Let us all do our best and try to eradicate this indifference.

Having said all this, we all know that it takes two to tango ... so it is every country’s duty, not just the receiving ones, including African countries, to safeguard every single life, to grant all the citizens the various basic rights of life, freedom, justice, participation, equity and many others.

I am now hereby proposing that immigration be one of the main items of the agenda for next year’s summit. Various speakers would be able to share their knowledge, views, strategies, good practices, etc. related to the subject with all the members of the conference. We cannot talk about values and leave out such an important subject from being discussed at the level of this World Conference.

I will not take long; however, one final observation is related to the possible increase of youth involvement in this conference. I would like to invite the UPF to explore the possibility of having more young persons to take part and contribute in this Summit. I am sure you all share my view that the youth involvement was limited. They are not just the present but the future. Let’s give them space, time, and the opportunity to air their views. Every politician, every leader should listen to what the younger generations have to say about these issues. It is our responsibility to create the right environment and opportunity for them to participate in the social dialogue and be prepared to be our future leaders. We should invest in them and strive to have them fully on board when discussing the values that should be the pillars of tomorrow’s society; they are tomorrow’s leaders so they should be there at the forefront. We should support them and give them all the skills that will make them successful politicians and leaders. And here I quote Martin Luther King:

“We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.” We definitely need them!

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to end my address by thanking you for your attention. Words of thanks and appreciation go to UPF for this invitation and for the organization of the summit. I look forward to next year’s summit where we can all share any good practices while doing our utmost to create a better world. Let’s walk the talk. Good evening and thank you.



To go to the International Leadership Conference Schedule 2019, click here.