18 SEPTEMBER 2002
Finance Minister John Dalli addresses the BorzaMed meeting last weekend. The initiative aims to link the stock markets of Malta, Tunisia and Egypt in a joint capital market
As a Maltese, I am proud to say that Malta has always played a central role in the long and turbulent history of the Mediterranean region. The geographic position of the Maltese Islands, halfway between the mainlands of Europe and Africa, made them a vital staging post for any nation seeking to achieve a dominant position over the trading routes of the Mediterranean. The Neolithic peoples, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Aragonese, the Knights, the French and the British were all in Malta at the peak of their power. The presence of these people and their cultures down the ages has helped to shape the Maltese cultural heritage, as we know it.
Today the role of dominating powers has been curtailed. Maltas destiny is in its own hands and its ambition is to chart its future in peace and harmony with all neighboring countries. I strongly believe that because of its unique cultural heritage, rich in its diversity, the Maltese people can strongly contribute to the development of the Mediterranean region.
It is with such thoughts in mind that we are today welcoming you to this meeting. I welcome the delegations from Egypt and Tunisia who, together with the Malta Stock Exchange, were instrumental in fostering the idea of a joint capital market project for Mediterranean Countries. I also congratulate the delegation from Jordan for the interest they have shown in this venture. I am sure that as the aims of this Project becomes more widely known other jurisdictions will come forward to join in this venture.
In Maltese we say that all beginnings are difficult. We are now in the very early stages of this Project and of course there are problems. However, if we are resolved to move ahead for the common welfare of the region, then there is no problem, which cannot be overcome, no difficulty, which cannot be solved.
One of the main aims of the Project we are launching today is the closing of ranks for the capital markets of Mediterranean countries. We are all aware of the difficulties which the international capital markets are presently facing. Mediterranean markets are, of course, no exception. Indeed they could be even more vulnerable because of their size. I believe that now is the time for our markets to take steps to strengthen their infrastructure so that when times change, as change they must, they will be able to face the challenges that such changes must bring.
As I am sure you are aware, during the past years, Malta has made strong efforts to offer its services as an international financial center of repute. We have introduced modern financial legislation designed to support the needs of the center. At the same time, we are in the forefront in the battle against money laundering and in this context we have just set up a Financial Intelligence Unit as a point of focus for the gathering of information related to suspicious transactions. The Unit will also be able to cooperate with overseas regulators in the course of related investigations.
On the domestic scene, the Malta Stock Exchange has taken the initiative to introduce Corporate Governance Principles for locally listed companies. This initiative was the basis for the setting up of Mediterranean Corporate Governance Roundtable whose main objective is to study Corporate Governance in the Mediterranean region and which will be launched later on this month. This is again a Project which, I feel, deserves all the support it can get.
I would like to take this occasion to extend a special welcome to Mr. Gerrit Marez de Oyens whom I have had the pleasure to meet on a number of occasions. We have the good fortune to be able to have him in our team and I am sure that his experience and dedication in this field will be a great asset to us all.
I feel I should not take more of your precious time. I wish you a successful meeting but even more I wish your countries lasting peace based on economic development and growth. I believe that peace and prosperity must go together because it is impossible to have one without the other.