Last month marked the one-year anniversary of my tenure as the US Ambassador to the Republic of Malta.
On October 27, 2022, I presented my diplomatic credentials to President George Vella. In that ceremony, I pledged to advance our mutual foreign policy goals and further the people-to-people ties between our two nations.
While the past year represents a brief moment in the centuries-old relationship between the American and Maltese people, I believe we have accomplished much in bringing our two countries closer together.
I arrived at a critical moment for Malta, the United States and our global partners. In January, Malta became an elected member of the UN Security Council, immediately leading on pressing global challenges and humanitarian causes.
When Malta assumed the Presidency of the Security Council in February 2023, it was the first anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine. Malta has stood firmly with the United States against Russian aggression.
This September, we were grateful to the Maltese government for hosting a meeting between the US national security advisor and Chinese foreign minister. The meeting continued essential efforts to maintain open lines of communication with the People’s Republic of China.
In addition, Malta served as the convener for the third iteration of Ukraine’s Peace Formula discussions, with the participation of the United States and over 60 other countries and international organisations.
Most recently, our two governments came together to condemn Hamas’s terror attack on Israel and call for the unconditional and safe release of hostages, as well as to address the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza.
These examples demonstrate Malta’s growing importance on the international stage and as a partner for the United States.
I have encouraged frequent engagements between our senior officials to maintain unity at this critical juncture, when autocratic powers challenge the rules-based international order.
History shows that Malta and the United States have resisted multiple aggressive attempts to redraw the map of Europe. That legacy continues, as the United States and Malta are united as partners in our continuing condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and in supporting humanitarian efforts to assist the Ukrainian people.
Together we share Ukraine’s desire for a free and democratic future. I have made it a top priority to demonstrate that Malta and the United States stand side by side in advocating for this goal and resisting any attempt to challenge such universal values as democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Our shared values benefit all aspects of our bilateral relationship, including our long-standing maritime partnership. This partnership not only enhances security in the Mediterranean but also strengthens our people-to-people ties.
Earlier this year, we welcomed two US Navy ships to Malta. The officers and crew of the USS Nitze enjoyed the cultural heritage of Malta during shore leave and even participated in volunteer service to assist the local community.
From April to July, the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams stayed in Malta to undergo maintenance. I am truly grateful for the technical expertise offered to our ship by Maltese experts, whose skills are not available in many other locations.
A highlight of these visits for me was meeting with Commanding Officer Katie Jacobson of the USS Nitze during Women’s History Month, when we celebrated her trailblazing accomplishments as a female leader. It remains a top priority of mine to support programmes that empower women in all sectors of society.
History shows that Malta and the United States have resisted multiple aggressive attempts to redraw the map of Europe- Constance J. Milstein
Together with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, we implemented the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, which provides training and mentoring to enterprising women business owners.
We also participated in a Career Day, organised by Business Professional Women Malta, during which more than a thousand young girls received mentorship from the inspiring and successful women that I work with at the US Embassy.
More recently, I launched a new Women of Influence Series, where women leaders and emerging voices in Malta connect on common ground to support one another. We plan to make this networking event a regular feature of our efforts to promote gender equality.
The US Embassy in Malta has long been committed to promoting human rights and diversity. This year, we offered exchange opportunities for leading activists from the transgender community to travel to the United States and build relationships with American counterparts.
On May 17, to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia, I invited Prime Minister Abela, Foreign Minister Borg and representatives of the diplomatic community for an event at the US Embassy to visibly display our support for LGBTQI+ persons around the world.
During Pride Month in June, we lit up the embassy façade in rainbow colours. Finally, to celebrate EuroPride, we proudly sponsored the Flag in the Map exhibition, providing an opportunity to interact with this amazing exhibit, which reflected on the Pride Flag and its importance to individuals around the world.
The exhibit also preserved the legacy of Gilbert Baker, an American visionary who created the Rainbow Flag in 1978 as a symbol of hope for the worldwide LGBTQI+ community.
We have been very busy, and we hope to accomplish so much more in the year ahead. I plan to continue my work with the Maltese government to promote democracy as well as our other shared interests, commercial ties and educational exchanges. I hope that my future activities will continue to connect the United States and Malta in respect and friendship.
I look forward to bringing to Malta elements of American tradition and culture that are rooted in family, community and art. It is in sharing these traditions that strong relationships are made.
It is my pleasure and honour to serve in Malta.
Constance J. Milstein is the US ambassador to Malta.