President George Vella vowed that one of his priorities would be that of seeking to heal divisions, including those caused by the unsolved murders of Karin Grech, Raymond Caruana and Daphne Caruana Galizia, in order to strengthen national unity.
Dr Vella was sworn as the 10th President of Malta in at a special sitting of Parliament, taking over from his former Cabinet colleague Marie-Lousie Coleiro Preca.
During his inaugural speech, Dr Vella, who said he was assuming the office with deep humility, gratitude and pride, stated that his would be a silent, impartial presidency that would also seek to be a moral compass, which would give a voice to the voiceless and solace to those who needed it.
He said that having different points of view was a sacred right but there needed to be dialogue that was mature and respectful, with no personal attacks.
He said he had accepted to assume the role of President in order to serve the people and to promote Malta’s values, including a fair distribution of wealth. Economic wealth did not mean there was no material poverty, and he would therefore seek to maintain the social commitment demonstrated by his predecessor, Mrs Coleiro Preca.
As a medical doctor, Dr Vella said he would continue to ensure that there was respect for medical and moral ethics ‘including respect for life from its very beginning.’ He would also closely monitor the living conditions of the elderly in Malta, ensuring their quality of life was maintained.
The former Foreign Affairs Minister said that Malta, despite being small, would remain relevant and would be respected as long as it showed itself to be competent. His concerns, he said, included populism, right-wing extremism, climate change, organised crime, human and arms trafficking and organised crime, adding that Malta could play an important role in international fora in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Malta should be proud of its values and morals even in international fora, he said, including in the UN Security Council if it was elected to it in 2023-24. “We need to be clear in our condemnation of exploitation of workers from other countries, human trafficking, arms trafficking and organised crime.”
Dr Vella said that the country's natural and built environment were under pressure, and pledged to recommend enforcement of the rules to ensure environmental sustainability. He would also promote measures for better quality of air and the sea and measures to avoid global warming.
Dr Vella also spoke about his role as guardian of the Constitution and insisted that the process for a revision of the constitution should be as broad as possible, including MPs, experts, NGOs and civil society in general.