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MALTATODY 20 March 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 20 MARCH 2022 OPINION 15 AS we try to understand the new world that is being created after the pandemic, the new world struggling to address the climate crisis and the new world order to emerge with the war in Ukraine, we find ourselves like Ptolemy 19 centuries ago and the cartog- raphers of 500 years ago, trying to map the unknown lands they had not discovered and mapped. When denoting these unknown territories, they used to write "Hic sunt dracones" – "here be dragons". Which are the dragons that we have to face in our post-COVID world, in our world where we have to change our lifestyle, con- sumption and production mod- els to tackle the climate crisis and the turbulence as we move from a unipolar to a multi-polar world? In the post-COVID world we are creating new supply and val- ue chains where globalisation be- comes regionalisation as we re- shore and near-shore economic operations and products that had been transferred to faraway lands that were cheaper and more competitive. This adjustment will be painful but will create new op- portunities and it does not have to be a zero-sum game, where different continents close them- selves off to each other and turn their backs on each other. This is neither desirable nor realistic. Regionalisation and glo- balisation can complement each other if they are managed well and through cooperation rather than conflict. The climate crisis has to be managed well as it can turn into a geopolitical crisis if it leads to the collapse of countries whose livelihood is still based on fossil fuels, if old energy is phased out before replacing it with new en- ergy and if countries and citizens are not helped to make the re- quired transition. There will be a backlash if the measures needed to be taken to deal with the cli- mate crisis are seen more risky and threatening than the climate crisis itself which is ravaging the planet with drought, extreme weather, wildfires, flooding, ris- ing sea levels... The Ukraine war, although a re- stricted to one country militarily, is having and will have regional and global security, political and economic consequences that will be felt long after the war comes to an end. There are around 40 different conflicts going on in the world at the moment but the Ukraine war is where a major nuclear power is involved directly and which is more dangerous for the whole planet. The world has become so small that we have become each other's neighbours. The German Thom- as Schutte has sculptures called 'United Enemies' where we have two pairs of men, who hate each other and want to get away from each other but cannot as they are bound to one another with rope. Even as enemies we need to find ways of working together, not be- cause we love our enemies and wish them well but because we need to survive. Even our selfish- ness and narrow interests dictate that we cooperate with our ene- mies. At the least, we need to find a way to coexist peacefully. Forging cooperative security depends on dialogue. The secu- rity architecture that we need to build in every region of the world must be built on the principles that however difficult and pain- ful compromises are, neighbours must find ways of living togeth- er, not threaten each other and respect each other's sovereignty, right to choose their own polit- ical and economic system and seek their own security arrange- ments without undermining the security of others. The alterna- tive to painful compromise and agreement is much more painful catastrophe. Mikhail Bulgakov, a brilliant writer, born in Kiev but living and writing in Moscow said: "I don't have any special talents, just an ordinary desire to live like a human being." We still live in a world where millions are being denied this basic de- sire: through wars, oppression, poverty and inequality. The war in Ukraine is making this worse as it pushing up the prices of en- ergy and food that risk plunging more millions into poverty and the whole world into a new glob- al recession. This is not a world where on one side we have saints and on the other side we have sinners. We are all sinners to one extent or another, seeking redemption. In Bologna last summer at the Interfaith Meeting we agreed on a Parva Carta pledging ourselves: "We must not kill each oth- er. We must rescue each other. We must forgive each other. We concluded that for people to prosper and for the planet to be saved, the three Ps of People, Prosperity and Planet must be complemented by Peace. With- out Peace everything falls apart." THE last five years can be re- garded as a strong confirmation of this government's social soul and its unwavering motivation for social justice. We have ex- perienced a constant delivery of social policies aimed to create a fair and equal opportunity for all. All this despite the pandemic, which itself brought about the balancing need between the health and financial sectors. As a nation we have managed to reach such an equilibrium, although faced with constant struggles. Socially, the govern- ment was even more commit- ted to enhance social cohesion policies and in particular to strengthen its ability to trans- late the values of solidarity and inclusion, into tangible meas- ures that made a tangible differ- ence for the better in people's lives. As a government, we also strived to ensure that long-term consequences are not over- looked, and we have indeed led by example. In times of interna- tional crisis, our country stepped up its efforts to make sure that nobody gets left behind. Two years after this pandemic first hit our islands, we can in- deed say that we did well. We kept our promises with families and have proved again and again that our social policies do func- tion. We managed to accom- plish this by the strengthening of socially oriented measures, such as the in-work benefit, the tapering of benefits, free child- care, etc. This approach is essential, as it goes right to the very core of our belief in social justice. As a government we were not sat- isfied with just addressing the immediate needs of the persons in vulnerable situations. We al- so wanted to ensure that these individuals kept on with their planned course. In particular, our pensioners have been on the very forefront, when it comes to social bene- fits and increases in pensions. And yet, we will not stop here. The Labour government has in fact proposed another increase in pension for the coming five years, where at least every pen- sioner will enjoy a further €15 increase weekly, over the next legislature. And this besides the COLA. Driven by social justice and solidarity, this government in- tends to further promote social reforms. We have the credibility and the know- how, in making a positive difference in people's life, especially those regarded as vulnerable. We have a track record to be proud of. The coming five years shall in turn serve as a continua- tion and as a base for more social justice, should the people vote Labour again to government. I commit myself to one thing, that along with the Prime Minis- ter and fellow ministers, we will strive to keep on improving the current social situation. Let us not go back to the past, and end up with more taxes, higher elec- tricity bills and a situation with excessive deficit procedures against our country. Our deep-rooted beliefs in so- cial justice and social cohesion, are our greatest goals. This is a nation that cares and no matter who you are, the respect for your dignity will be our obligation and commitment, as a future Labour government. With a Labour government at the helm of this country, truly and definitely "someone's always there for you". Mapping the new unknown land Always there for you Evarist Bartolo Michael Falzon Evarist Bartolo is Foreign minister and a PL candidate on the 10th, 12th districts Michael Falzon is minister for social solidarity and a Labour candidate on the 9th, 10th districts

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