Author: Mr Philip Tissot, Acting British High Commissioner, United Kingdom

Mr President, Your Grace, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

One behalf of the British High Commissioner and the people and Government of the United Kingdom, I am grateful to have the opportunity to be here today to address this Convention of Leaders of Associations of Maltese Abroad and of Maltese Origin. The links between the United Kingdom and Malta go back some 200 years. These historical, cultural and educational links have grown over this time and today there is much exchange between our nations.

The Maltese community in the United Kingdom is a thriving one - and one which adds to the richness of Britain's diversity, culture and general well-being. With no language barriers there are also many Maltese studying at various educational establishments throughout Britain.

Just go give you a personal example, I arrived in Malta some ten months ago - not having been here before. But I returned to Britain on holiday in October last year. I visited London, Manchester and Bath all within one week. And would you believe it? I bumped into Maltese friends and colleagues in all three cities just walking along the street, sitting in restaurants and at the theatre. All cited examples of Maltese community are in the U.K. and the close affinity between our two cultures and societies. The key aspect one recognises with all Maltese citizens living in the United Kingdom is not only their valuable contribution to the local communities in which they live, but also their sense of national pride. Close links are maintained with Malta, with family and friends and through commercial partnerships. This is evident by the number of participants here today as well as the impressive list of speakers and subjects to be discussed. This is an important Convention and one which will undoubtedly strengthen the ties that Maltese migrants have with their origins.

It only remains for me to thank you once again for the opportunity to be here today and to wish all participants the very best for a successful Convention.

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