Saturday, February 6, 2010

More Recent History

British Rule in Malta

During WW2 Malta played an important role, owing to its proximity to the Axis shipping lanes. The bravery of the Maltese people in their long struggle against enemy attack moved H.M. King George VI to award the George Cross to Malta on 15 April 1942, "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". The George Cross has been an important element in the Maltese Flag ever since.

During the years following the war, Malta had to combat the ravages and destruction that the continued bombings had left in their wake. The Malta Labour Party attempted to bring about the "Integration with Britain" but this failed owing to severe opposition from various factions. Malta was granted independence on September 21, 1964. Under its 1964 constitution, Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta, with a Governor-General exercising executive authority on her behalf. In 1974 on the 13th December, Malta became a Republic with a President as Head of State, the first being Sir Anthony Mamo. The defence agreement signed soon after independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on March 31,1979 and on that day the British military forces were withdrawn from the Island, with mutual consent and in a very friendly and heart-breaking atmosphere. In fact the Maltese population thronged to the Grand Harbour and waved goodbye with tears in their eyes. Malta adopted an official policy of neutrality in 1980 and, for a brief period was a member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

In 1989, Malta was the venue of an important summit between US President Bush and Soviet leader Gorbachev. On that very stormy and windy day on board a US warship the historic meeting signalled the end of the Cold War. Malta joined the European Union on May 1, 2004 and in 2008 we joined the Eurozone which has proved very beneficial financially.

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