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MALTATODAY 26 February 2023

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12 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 26 FEBRUARY 2023 b y G i a c o m o P u c c i n i DIRECTED BY José Cura CONDUCTED BY Mario De Rose TOSCA Tanya Ivanova SCARPIA Carlos Almaguer CAVARADOSSI José Cura SPOLETTA Alan Sciberras SACRISTAN Albert Buttigieg ANGELOTTI Louis Cassar PASTORELLO Nadia Vella COSTUME DESIGNER Silvia Collazuol KorMalta Malta Philharmonic Orchestra 5 8 10 12 March 2023 IN COLLABORATION WITH: Lioness in the halls of global Malta's top diplomat at the United Nations, Vanessa Frazier, marries her patriotism with an unfettered love for her job. But to retain Malta's international reputation as an honest broker requires principles: 'If you don't compromise on your principles, you are always a winner.' IN a tiny room that serves as the office of the president of the Se- curity Council, six journalists are crammed in to listen to ambassa- dor Vanessa Frazier explain how Malta's two-month presidency of the world's most important multilateral body showcases the island's diplomatic finesse. Frazier is a long-standing ca- reer diplomat who has served her country for the past 30 years across Europe and now as per- manent representative to the UN, and by her own admission, finds herself in a job she loves to do, underlined by passion- ate patriotism for Malta. Woe betide they who criticise Malta: "They will find a lioness," she declares, unfazed by the power dynamics of big countries whose political bandwidth soars higher than that of the UN's numerous minnows. "It is a place in which every country's own national in- terest comes first," she says of this globalist workplace in New York, where the cut and thrust of political realism means even Malta must state its piece loud- ly, and clearly. A day later, she is accompanying foreign minister Ian Borg to the Security Council. Frazier, comfortable in her own skin in this hall of power, works the room, greets the representa- tives of the other nations, guid- ing Borg – the second foreign minister since her appointment in January 2020 – around the congregations of powerful diplo- mats and foreign secretaries. Malta is on the UNSC as a non-executive member for two years, sharing the stage with the victors of World War II – the permanent five members (USA, UK, France, Russia, China) – in a body where every decision is law for the UN's members, and where every word uttered carries weight. This is where Malta's role as president in this two-month pe- riod serves to show how its dip- lomats parry well with larger na- tions who know the procedures and rules of this institution well. "It may seem innocuous but there are differences on the types of meetings... what topics are de- bated, whether the meeting is open or closed, the format, the briefers," Frazier says. All must be decided by consensus, which is where Malta's influence comes in as the broker of these final outcomes. "The country's influ- ence is very important, because we have to stick to our princi- ples... some countries might not want an open meeting... they might see that as a provocation. So we have to negotiate." How Malta's presidency is viewed here becomes crucial. Frazier says Malta is valued as a consistent and principled coun- try. "And that is what's impor- tant. The lesson I've learnt in here, is that you win only if you stick to your principles. If you don't compromise on your prin- ciples, you are always a winner." So even in a week dominat- ed by the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the anniversary of the war, Malta needs to ensure dignified proceedings in a play- ground of political actors where the big boys find it easy to brow- beat the smaller nations. That is a sense of 'solidarity' – or entitle- ment – shared by the P5 mem- bers keen to retain their influ- ence and control. But even Malta must show itself, as a member of the Security Council, account- able to the general membership that elected it there. "We have a form of accountability that the permanent members do not have, and that is always present in my mind when we take deci- sions." This reputation also influences the choice of 'significant events' embarked upon by Malta dur- ing February and March, namely climate action on sea-level rise, and the safeguarding of chil- dren in conflict. The first sub- ject marries Malta's pioneering MATTHEW VELLA Vanessa Frazier chairing a meeting of the UN Security Council UN, New York

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