Updated: Feb 8, 2018
An exclusive interview with Malta’s President, Her Excellency Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.
Malta’s President, Her Excellency Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, is well-known for her dedication to helping her Maltese public, as well as her love for the island she leads. Here she shares stories from the island home that means so much to her.
What is your favourite aspect of life in Malta, and why?
I am always pleased to experience the incredible culture and the well-loved traditions of our islands. These are evident in the diverse initiatives that are taken by the many communities in Malta. It is this sense of community that is my favourite aspect of life in Malta.
How would you spend your perfect day in Malta?
A perfect day would include the time to catch up on my reading in a stunning natural location in Malta. Malta’s beautiful landscapes and green spaces are precious and must be treasured. Our national natural heritage is an essential aspect of our Maltese identity, and an important source of our wellbeing.
What is the one historical attraction that visitors shouldn't miss?
The choices for historical attractions on Islands are endless. Visitors and locals alike cannot help but be awestruck by the magnificence of the Ggantija Temple, Gozo’s Cittadella, St John’s co-Cathedral, and the City of Valletta as a whole. Indeed, I am pleased to note that the work being done by V18, which is part of Malta’s upcoming term as European Capital of Culture for 2018, has positively transformed many parts of our capital city. Our islands are a living and walking history book.
You live in beautiful San Anton Palace. Which is your favourite part of the Palace and Gardens?
I would say that, of all the parts of San Anton Palace and its grounds, my favourite is one of the oldest private gardens. I opened this private garden, which is now known as the ‘President’s Secret Garden’. Through the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, we have created a participative community of learning at the Secret Garden, where thousands of children have had the opportunity to learn new skills, to feel empowered, to build new friendships, and to enjoy the natural environment.
Which is your must-read book for this year?
There are two books that have struck me this year. The first is the latest publication by Pope Francis, ‘The Name of God is Mercy’. In this book, the Pope talks about his experiences as a child and young man, which have led him to understand the power of mercy and love in the world. The second book is by Maltese author Raymond Portelli, entitled ‘L-Avukat’. The book talks about a lawyer’s career working with children, and highlights the need for a more inclusive and respectful attitude, which treats our children with full respect and dignity.
How do you spend your down time?
When I’m not working, I spend as much time as I can with my family. Reconnecting with my family and close friends is how I relax.
Which has been your favourite travel destination so far?
One of my most memorable travels abroad during my time as President was when I visited Jordan and the Al Zaatari refugee camp. It is the world’s largest Syrian refugee camp, with over 80,000 people – 58% of whom are children. Meeting with some of these refugees and listening to their aspirations for education and a new life, while facing such difficult circumstances, was inspirational. My experience in Al Zaatari has remained with me, and gives me the strength to continue advocating for the humane treatment of all people, especially the most vulnerable.
What is your hope for Malta in the next few years?
I hope that, as one united people of Malta, we will continue to create structured and safe spaces that encourage the democratic participation of children and young people in particular. I believe that active citizenship is essential for our children and young people to be the activists of today and the effective leaders of tomorrow. We need to prioritise opportunities across Malta, for diverse communities to meet one another, to share their stories, to learn, and to grow together. In that way, we shall be strengthening the whole of society, and promoting a spirit of solidarity and well-being throughout the Maltese Islands.
TEMPLE Magazine. Issue One 2017.
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