Guido was a self-made man from a humble family – his father worked at the Lyceum, and I remember his pride in the fact that his son had become a lawyer. When Guido resigned his job at the Attorney-General’s Office and contested the 1962 election, in those tense and challenging pre-independence times, it created quite a stir but then the successful criminal lawyer would dedicate much of his life to the Nationalist and the Maltese cause.
A charismatic, warm and appreciative soul possessing a mature political and diplomatic judgment, he was a powerful orator who used analogy and allegory to good effect, a beacon of hope in the worst of times. I remember him at a mass meeting reassuringly dismissing Dom Mintoff as a “ġgant tat-tafal” (a clay giant), one whom, ironically, he would eventually befriend and counsel.
After a close-run PN leadership contest in 1977, as Deputy Leader and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the well-connected de Marco worked with Eddie Fenech Adami and was instrumental in resurrecting Malta’s bid to join the EU after 1998.
A friend of Yasser Arafat, as President of the UN General Assembly he made his pro-Palestinian message crystal clear as well as giving expression to humanitarian concerns and reformist needs.
His Maltese presidency carried a warmth, a presence and a charm. He was a persuasive mediator. He was one of the Maltese leaders who most had a sense of history, conscious of the nexus between past and present, from colonial to post-colonial, of the European and Mediterranean “mix”.
He was profoundly and endearingly respectful of researched writings, genuinely proud of Malta’s road to independence under George Borg Olivier and, afterwards, of this small country’s survival as an economically viable democratic European state with fundamental human rights made a part of its corpus juris.
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