Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Security, migration and trade on the agenda as Foreign Secretary visits Italy and Malta [February 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 8 February 2023.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will visit Italy and Malta to discuss how to accelerate support for Ukraine and discourage illegal migration.

  • working with our European friends to accelerate support for Ukraine and tackle illegal migration are the Foreign Secretary’s top priorities during the visit
  • in Rome, James Cleverly joins Defence and Trade Secretaries for the annual UK-Italy ‘Pontignano’ civil society forum
  • UK to sign enhanced cooperation agreement with Malta

Stopping illegal migration and accelerating support for Ukraine will be top of the agenda during Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s 3-day visit to Italy and Malta (8 to 10 February).

There will also be a focus on bolstering relations between the UK and the 2 countries, as the Foreign, Defence and Trade Secretaries all join the annual UK-Italy Pontignano forum and a new UK-Malta Bilateral Cooperation Framework is signed.

As Ukrainians enter their second year living under relentless and full-scale Russian bombardment, Cleverly will galvanise European support for Ukraine.

In Rome, the Foreign Secretary will lay out the UK’s ambition to deepen defence and security ties with the new Italian government as we accelerate efforts to support Ukraine. This will build on the Global Combat Air Programme announced between the 2 countries, and Japan, in December 2022, which will develop sixth-generation air fighter jets.

Cleverly and Italian Foreign Minister Tajani will also discuss how the UK and Italy can work more closely together to discourage migrants from travelling to and around Europe illegally, including through joint-work in countries of origin and transit routes through Europe.

In Valletta, he will encourage the Maltese government to use their seat in the United Nations Security Council to stand up for the international rules-based order at a time when it is being threatened by Putin’s illegal actions in Ukraine – and encourage Malta to remain steadfast in its support to Ukraine, alongside other international partners. The Foreign Secretary will welcome the support Malta has provided to Ukraine so far, including vital medical assistance to Ukrainian soldiers, and the provision of generators and protective equipment.

Looking ahead to the visit, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:

Italy and Malta are seen as gateways to Europe for many hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge from conflict and persecution. However, it is important that we stop illegal migration and criminal smuggling gangs, and instead ensure there are safe and legal routes.

Over the next 3 days, I will discuss with my Italian and Maltese counterparts exactly how we tackle the problems of illegal migration that affect all our countries.

We will also discuss how we accelerate support for Ukraine over the coming months by providing military, humanitarian and economic assistance.

Europe’s response to Russia’s barbaric attack on Ukraine has taken the Kremlin by surprise. Where Putin expected to sow division, he has instead fostered greater unity between nations.

The UK and our European partners will ensure Ukraine wins the war and protect our collective peace and security.

Malta is part of the Commonwealth family, and whilst there the Foreign Secretary will visit Villa Guardamangia, the former home of HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Cleverly will also pay tribute to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and meet her family.

He will also join his Malta’s Foreign Minister Borg in signing an agreement – the Bilateral Cooperation Framework – outlining the UK’s commitment to boost ties in trade, defence and culture and intensify our work on the rule of law.

Alongside his programme in Rome, the Foreign Secretary will meet Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States.

The Foreign Secretary will join the 30th edition of the Pontignano forum – the annual flagship event on UK-Italy relations. The UK Defence and Trade Secretaries will also take part in the event.