Minister Carmelo Abela attends the ICMPD – Vienna Migration Conference

Reference Number:  , Press Release Issue Date: Nov 25, 2019

On 21 November, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela participated in the Vienna Migration Conference, which is the annual flagship event of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). The theme of this year’s event was ‘Breaking the gridlock and moving forward: recommendations for the next five years of EU migration policy’ and Minister Abela was part of a high-level political panel composed of politicians, that discussed ways to chart the way forward for the political priorities and overarching goals that should steer a future migration system. In his interventions on the panel, Minister Abela described the complexity of the challenges that migration poses to a frontline country such as Malta. Despite this, he stressed that it was very important not to lose sight of the fact that when dealing with migration, one is dealing with the lives of people. He also advocated a rethink in our dealings with African countries, by adopting a longer-term approach based on trade and mutual partnership. Minister Abela concluded by saying that migration is a global challenge, and therefore we need to reach out globally as Europe will not be successful if it tries to address the matter by working in isolation.


In the margins of the conference, Minister Abela held a meeting with the Director General of ICMPD, Michael Spindelegger. During the meeting, Malta’s role within ICMPD, since its accession last year was discussed, as well as further cooperation in the coming years. In this regard, the ICMPD Regional Cooperation Office for Migration, based in Malta was described as a great asset for both sides in fostering further cooperation. Minister Abela also reiterated his wish for Malta to take on the chairmanship of the ICMPD Steering Group in 2022, describing it as an excellent opportunity for Malta to set political and programmatic accents to ICMPD’s work, towards the Central Mediterranean Route.


Minister Abela also held a bilateral meeting with the Greek Alternate Minister of Citizen Protection, responsible for immigration George Koumoutsakos. During this meeting, the similarities that Greece and Malta share with regards to migration were highlighted and therefore ways of cooperating better both bilaterally as well as within the EU structures explored, particularly at this important juncture, now that a new European Commission is about to take office. The two ministers also agreed to consider organising a side event to the United Nations Human Rights Council next February in Geneva on migration.


Earlier in the day, Minister Abela also delivered a lecture at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy which is a postgraduate professional school based in Vienna, Austria, that focuses on training for students and professionals in the areas of international affairs, political science, law, languages, history and economics. The lecture was entitled ‘Confronting the Challenges of Migration: a Reality Check’, and the audience was made up of members of the diplomatic community in Vienna, academics and students of the Diplomatic Academy. The minister’s speech was followed by an hour-long question and answer session.


Minister Carmelo Abela had a bilateral meeting with Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Li Yong. The minister thanked the Director General for his  leadership and underlined Malta’s support for UNIDO’s exceptional work in the field of industrial development. The minister shared Malta’s vision of developing a positive agenda towards Africa, based on the trade-not-aid strategy, while focusing on youth. Li Yong expressed his appreciation for Malta’s support and highlighted that Malta’s priorities correspond with UNIDO’s Industrial Development Agenda. The minister and the director general agreed to hold further discussions to consider additional programmes through which Malta and UNIDO could enhance their cooperation.