"Don't let politicians fit you in a box. Let's remove the mentality of you and us, the artists and politicians". Comodini Cachia addresses Forum Valletta
During her address, Comodini Cachia said "alternative facts, half-truths, populism, state funded trolls, turning Orwell's fiction into reality are the realities I meet with in politics. The post factual situation is terribly difficult for those politicians who believe that truth, honesty and evidence based policy is the way forward for the common good." Forum Valletta was part of MEP Comodini Cachia's contribution to the cultural programme of the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Whilst thanking the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr Anġlu Farrugia, for opening Parliament's chamber for the event, Comodini Cachia emphasized that she wanted to provide an opportunity for artists to feel engaged in the Presidency's cultural programme and that is why she chose to hold the debate in Malta. She also thanked the Malta Arts Council for supporting this project.
During his introductory speech, the Speaker Dr Anġlu Farrugia said that "for many citizens it may not appear that culture is an immediate aspect of the Parliamentary sessions, if we broaden our understanding of what culture is, we can interpret culture as a way of life and the behavior of the people." Speaker Anġlu Farrugia reminded that culture has been already discussed in the Plenary Chamber and described how the national Parliament has become a key player in the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. During the six months of the Presidency, the House of Representatives will be hosting several inter-parliamentary meetings that will bring together Parliamentarians from across the Union and other observer countries.
Forum Valletta consisted of provocations, reactions and a discussion involving artists, critics, and politicians. Experts from the European cultural sector were invited to contribute to the Forum which opened with provocations from Dr Joan Abela, Prof. Christopher Balme and Bernard Foccroulle. These followed reactions from Prof. Vicki Ann Cremona, Nele Hertling, Simon Mundy and Nymand Christensen. This session was chaired by Mario Frendo while the second session that included an open debate was chaired by Prof. Maria Attard. Subjects debated included the rise of extremism, terrorism, popularism in politics, censorship, use of technology and the involvement of youths.
In her final remarks, Therese Comodini Cachia addressed the youths present in the Chamber and said that "being young means that today is yours, and only if you think of yourselves as being part of today you can get the future you like." Comodini Cachia referred to populism and stated that "populism divides people for two reasons: to smother the voices of those who question and challenge the governing structures and the politicians, and to ensure that people loose their individuality. My plea to politicians today is to choose to speak the truth based on evidential statements so that political debate is not divisive but united in seeking the best solutions."
Simon Mundy from A Soul for Europe conducted two other side events, a round-table with Maltese Arts Practitioners and a poetry reading session with Maltese poet Beverly Agius. These events were held at Spazju Kreattiv in St James Cavalier. Forum Valletta was the first of two prestigious events of project iwEU that MEP Therese Comodini Cachia is hosting for the Maltese Presidency cultural programme. During the Forum, artist and political cartoonist Seb Tanti Burlò worked on sketches for an exhibition curated by Fabrizio Mifsud Soler at the European Parliament in Brussels between the 24th and 28th April. Forum Valletta was televised live on Parliament TV and can be accessed from the archive section of the Parliament website.