Around two-thirds of Maltese believe Malta’s neutrality is very important, especially when it comes to avoiding conflicts and maintaining trade lines, a new survey has found.
The survey, commissioned by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, found that 63% of Maltese are strongly in favour of Malta’s position of international neutrality.
Malta’s constitution affirms the island as a neutral state adhering to a policy of non-alignment.
Specifically, it reads "Malta is a neutral state actively pursuing peace, security and social progress among all nations by adhering to a policy of non-alignment and refusing to participate in any military alliance".
The survey, carried out by University of Malta statistician Vincent Marmara, found that a further 18% of respondents feel Malta’s neutrality is important while 14% are on the fence.
On the other hand, just 6% of Maltese are against the idea.
Addressing a press conference at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Valletta, Marmara said support for the neutrality clause was evenly spread across demographics.
The main reasons given for supporting neutrality were that it is viewed as essential if Malta is to avoid involvement in conflict and wars.
Respondents also felt that Malta is far too dependent on different members of the international community to take sides.
On the other side of the argument, those against neutrality said it was difficult not to take sides now that Malta is a member of the European Union.
Others argued that Malta should not be neutral when it comes to issues such as the fight against terrorism.
Marmara said the survey was carried out to gauge how the Maltese view the country’s role in the world.
“We wanted to look at the public’s views on these subjects to better understand what they feel the island should be doing on the international stage,” he said.
The survey has a sample size of 800 respondents representative of the population and based on various demographic indicators.
Marmara said the survey has a 95% level of confidence and the data is from October 2021.
What is Malta’s role in the world?
The survey found that 18% believe Malta has no role at all, while 15% feel the island plays a very important role.
The main reason respondents feel Malta has no role is the island’s small size, while others said it was because Malta is not that well known overseas.
The island’s strategic location in the middle of the Mediterranean was the main reason respondents felt it plays an important role.
Malta and the EU
Just over a third of respondents (36%) feel Malta has a very important role in the EU.
On the other hand, 13% had a negative impression of Malta’s relationship with Brussels and the other member states.
When it comes to the United Nations, one in four Maltese thinks Malta plays a very important role while a fifth think it is quite important.
On the other hand, around a 10th of respondents think Malta’s role in the UN is not important at all.
The Mediterranean region is where most respondents felt Malta has a big part to play.
Half of the respondents said Malta’s role is very important in the region, with a further 26% saying it is quite important.
Respecting international law
The survey also asked respondents whether they thought Malta respects international law.
The results show that 30% believe Malta is very respectful of international laws and treaties with a further 34% saying the island is quite respectful.
A quarter of respondents were neutral on the matter and a 10th were negative.
The survey was published as part of the launch of Malta’s new foreign policy strategy.
Addressing reporters remotely, Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo said the document is about “Malta’s social, economic, and cultural ties with the rest of the world.”
“As a small country, we don’t want to create any problems for anyone else or threaten anyone. So we want to live in peace and work for peace,” he said.
Bartolo said the strategy is based on the constitution, the rule of law, and principles such as equality of opportunity, neutrality and sustainability.
The main aim of this strategy is to have a foreign policy that serves the nation, its interests and its citizens, including Maltese living abroad, while also promoting the island’s beliefs, culture and identity overseas.