Times of Malta, 3rd May 2008 – Sustainable development shall be the main thrust of the government’s action in the coming years, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

Speaking at the Valletta Waterfront during the inauguration of the new offices of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (Rempec), Dr Gonzi noted that over the past years Malta was able to achieve the very ambitious aims it set itself, especially in the economic field.

“In spite of some dark clouds that are looming over the world’s economic horizons, there are still other ambitious aims such as achieving a budget surplus that we still have ahead of us.

“However, while pursing these goals along lines that have already been well set, our attention will be more closely focused than ever before on the environmental dimension of balanced growth.”

Malta had to be even more concerned about the sea area around the Maltese islands, such as the effects climate change might have on the country’s attractiveness for tourism. A polluted Mediterranean would also be as deadly a recipe for Malta’s prosperity as a sea that was too warm for both fish and human beings, the Prime Minister said.

Because of dangers of collisions or other mishaps that could result in oil spills of a magnitude that would be catastrophic, Malta looked forward with great eagerness to the adoption by the European Union of the urgently needed Marine Policy.

“However, clearly for that policy to be efficient it would have to earn the collaboration of the non-European states bordering the Mediterranean.

“Consequently, Malta has been not only a prime promoter of the EU declared policy of developing new forms of collaboration with the neighbouring states of the union and in particular those around the Mediterranean, we have also taken the initiatives or rallied wholeheartedly in support of all projects that aim at consolidating peaceful relations and sustainable development in our region.

“Among such initiatives, I think that the Mediterranean Regional Plan for Sustainable Development deserves particular praise, although it is yet to be adopted and implemented effectively,” Dr Gonzi said.