A unified front on issues like migration and religious extremism could bring out the Commonwealth’s “latent potential” of an association able to address global events, according to former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi.

“The Commonwealth is extremely well placed to offer a common platform for different cultures and different religions to come together and to transmit a powerful unified message that does not stop at condemning these atrocities but starts to do something about it,” he said.

Dr Gonzi was delivering a lecture at a Commonwealth Round Table meeting held on Friday at the Old University building, in Valletta. Acknowledging that the organisation bringing together 53 former British colonies was surrounded by a degree of scepticism, Dr Gonzi said this could be defeated by genuine commitment from within. The challenge was exacerbated further by the fact that Commonwealth countries met every two years, he added.

Looking back at the 2005 summit, which Malta hosted for the first time during his tenure as prime minister, Dr Gonzi opined that the event had been a major success, as it had focused on major challenges the world would be facing a decade later.

Issues like migration, human trafficking, the strengthening of financial systems, sustainable development and climate change were among the topics raised in that summit, he recalled.

Why not share the Commonwealth’s precious values with civil society, which shares our deep sense of indignation at the atrocities perpetrated by murderers?

“Isn’t this an impressive list of challenges which the world faced post-2005 and which – in some cases – today represent what I can safely describe as nightmare scenarios,” Dr Gonzi remarked.

He advocated a more proactive Commonwealth to be able to follow up on the conclusions reached at such talks. Dr Gonzi urged for a coordinated effort to bring religious leaders together to unite in a message of tolerance, respect and reconciliation.

“Why not share the Commonwealth’s precious values with leaders of civil society, who are prepared to cooperate and who share with us the deep sense of indignation at the atrocities that are perpetrated by murderers and criminals who hide behind a false cause,” he added.

Dr Gonzi called on the Youth Forum to ignite an enthusiastic but constructive response which only young people could manage to deliver when faced by serious threats to their future. Such horrible events were of global concern because they fuelled political instability, gave rise to extremist views and could even undermine economic stability.

Reiterating his belief that the Commonwealth could play an important role in such political areas, Dr Gonzi warned that “choosing to play it safe” would pose the risk of becoming “irrelevant and ineffective”.

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