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The Mediterranean – an opportunity?

LSE European Institute – APCO Worldwide Perspectives on Europe Series

Date: Friday 26 October 2012 
Time:  12noon-1pm 
Venue: Shaw Library, 6th floor, Old Building
Speaker: Lawrence Gonzi
Chair: Dr James Ker-Lindsay

Not for the first time in its chequered history, the Mediterranean region is in a state of transition. In the south, the revolutionary wave of the Arab Spring toppled regimes that had defined the region for decades, leaving in their wake an uncertain, and at times uneasy, regrouping of socio-political forces. To the north,the global economic crisis has exposed the cracks in a number of vulnerable economies that were, until a few years ago, at the vanguard of the continent’s economic growth.

Situated right in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta has found itself at the heart of this political, economic and social maelstrom. As a small, open economy, Malta has had to deal with the consequences of the Eurozone’s economic woes. It was also drawn into the Libyan Crisis, particularly when on 21 February 2011, two Mirage F1 fighter planes landed in Malta unexpectedly, marking the first two high-profile defections from the Ghaddafi regime of the Libyan uprising.

Malta faced these challenges head-on. Taking firm action to manage the effects of the recession, Malta fought successfully to maintain its core economic stability; Jose Barroso, President of the European Commission, in fact, recently described Malta’s economic performance as among the best in the Union. Malta also took a stand during the Libyan uprising and served as a humanitarian hub for persons fleeing the conflict and for conveying crucial medical and food supplies to Libya.

It is therefore quite fitting that Malta hosted the first 5+5 Summit to be held since 2003, and the first to be held since the Arab Spring, where talks focused on political and economic issues. At this Summit, the Maltese Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi, made the case that the Mediterranean nations now have a unique opportunity to work together towards a common goal: a democratic, stable and prosperous North Africa.

In his first public talk since bringing together ten Mediterranean states for the historical 5+5 Summit, Prime Minister Gonzi will state his claim for closer regional cooperation in the Mediterranean. What are his views of the incredible changes taking place in the north and south Mediterranean? How can countries and peoples in the region work together to achieve the common aim of democratisation?

Lawrence Gonzi took office as Prime Minister of Malta on 23 March 2004, including in his portfolio the Ministry of Finance. On 8 March 2008, Lawrence Gonzi was re-elected Prime Minister.

Lawrence Gonzi was born in Valletta on 1 July 1953 and is the elder of four siblings.  He received his formal education at St Joseph school and later at St Aloysious College and The Archbishop’s Seminary.  Lawrence Gonzi was also a member of the Circolo Gioventu` Cattolica. He graduated from the University of Malta as a lawyer in 1975. 

Lawrence Gonzi has been actively involved in the voluntary sector, particularly in the disability rights movement and mental health sector.  He was also the General President of the Malta Catholic Action between 1976 and 1986.

In November 1987, Lawrence Gonzi was appointed as the first Chairman of the National Commission for the Disabled and he retained this role until April 1994.

On 10 October 1988 he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the sixth legislature (1988-1992) and on the 5 April 1992 he was unanimously re-elected Speaker for the seventh legislature (1992-1996

Lawrence Gonzi contested the October 1996 General Elections and was elected to Parliament.  In November 1996, he was appointed Opposition Party Whip, Secretary to the Parliamentary Group and Shadow Minister for Social Policy.  One year after he was elected Secretary General of the Nationalist Party. 

Following the September 1998 General Elections, Lawrence Gonzi was appointed Minister for Social Policy and Leader of the House of Representatives. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister between May 1994 and March 2004.

In the election of 12 April 2003, Lawrence Gonzi was re-elected and appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Policy.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSEMalta


A transcript of Lawrence Gonzi's speech is available to download. Download 'The Mediterranean – an opportunity?' (pdf).


A podcast of this event is available to download from The Mediterranean – an opportunity?

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