A public discussion commemorating Freedom Day will spark a debate on one of Malta’s most controversial periods in contemporary history (1955-2004) – with the participation of historians Mark Camilleri, Henry Frendo and former prime minister Alfred Sant. The discussion will examine whether Dom Mintoff’s proposal for Integration with Great Britain was a forerunner of EU accession 60 years later.

The Integration proposal with Great Britain, approved in 1956 by 77 per cent of the participating 59.1 per cent of the electorate was never implemented. This was followed by Mintoff’s resignation from government in 1958, Malta’s Independence in 1964, the withdrawal of British troops and the Royal Navy from Malta in 1979 and Malta’s accession to the EU in 2004.    

“The question of national identity is indissolubly linked to the historical days we hold as dear. However, and here lies the catch, we do not all agree on which of those days should have precedence over others and which historical commemoration should be honoured as the one representing our national character the most. Our identity as a people seems to be in a tangle. Though we would very much like to think that we have travelled in a straight line, it seems that our national itinerary has been quite tortuous,” said SKS Publishers, the event organiser.

All of this, and much more, will be discussed by a fascinating trio who will surely flash a spark or two: Mark Camilleri, the outspoken closet communist; Alfred Sant, the man who has a knack for passing through fire unscathed; and Henry Frendo, the historian who feels he can give the last word on anything. 1955, 1964, 1958, 1971, 2004... these dates will be flying around in an attempt to find (perhaps impossibly) something to agree upon.

The discussion will be held on Thursday at 7.30pm at Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Valletta, followed by a reception. Proceedings, supervised by Jackie Mercieca, will be in Maltese, and open to the public free of charge. Questions and comments from the floor will be included.