Guido de Marco

Guido de Marco
Guido de Marco 2003 crop.jpg
Guido de Marco aboard USS La Salle, 2003
6th President of Malta
In office
4 April 1999 – 4 April 2004
Prime MinisterEdward Fenech Adami
Lawrence Gonzi
Preceded byUgo Mifsud Bonnici
Succeeded byEddie Fenech Adami
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
Preceded byJoseph Nanven Garba
Succeeded bySamir S. Shihabi
Personal details
Born(1931-07-22)July 22, 1931
Valletta, British Malta
DiedAugust 12, 2010(2010-08-12) (aged 79)
Msida, Malta
Resting placeAddolorata Cemetery
Political partyNationalist
Spouse(s)Violet de Marco (née Saliba; 1956–2010; his death)

Guido de Marco, KUOM (22 July 1931 – 12 August 2010) was a Maltese politician, who served as the sixth president of Malta from 1999 to 2004. A noted statesman and lawmaker, de Marco also served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Justice, and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

He was elected President of the 45th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1990, and Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation in 2004. A renowned criminal lawyer, he defended some of the landmark cases in Malta during the 1980s. His sudden death in 2010 shocked the nation and prompted three days of national mourning and a state funeral.

Early life and family

Guido de Marco was born in Valletta to Emanuele and Giovanna (née Raniolo) de Marco. He was educated at St. Joseph High School, St. Aloysius' College and the University of Malta. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Economics and Italian in 1952, becoming a Doctor of Laws in 1955.

De Marco and his future wife, Violet Saliba, met as students. He proposed to her on February 5, 1951, as he walked her home from Valletta to Pietà. De Marco and Violet Saliba married in 1956; the couple had three children: Giannella, Fiorella and Mario. Mario, who served as parliamentary secretary for tourism at the time of his father's death, said he was a family man who devoted time to his children and grandchildren.

Political career

Letter of application for membership of the European Economic Community by Malta, 1990. Sent from the Maltese foreign affairs minister Guido de Marco to the Italian foreign affairs ministers Gianni De Michelis, at the time holding the rotating presidency of the EU Council. Held at the House of European History in Brussels

In 1962, de Marco resigned his position at the Attorney General's Office, entering the political arena - later to contest a general election. The successful criminal lawyer would henceforth dedicate much of his life to the Nationalist and Maltese cause. He became a lecturer, and later a professor of criminal law at the University of Malta.

His political career began with his election to the House of Representatives in 1966. He was returned to Parliament at every general election he contested up to 1998. He was appointed secretary general of the Nationalist party in 1972 and became the party's deputy leader in 1977. He was elected as a representative at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 1967, remaining a member for almost twenty years. During his career as Minister for the Interior and Justice, De Marco's efforts led to the integration into domestic law of important international conventions, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights. As Minister for the Interior, he pioneered the reforms and modernisations in the Police Force, being instrumental in the founding of the Police Academy.[citation needed]

As Minister for Foreign Affairs he submitted Malta's application for membership of the European Communities. It was one of his first acts as Minister for Foreign Affairs, occurring on 16 July 1990. He was a major player in the consolidation of Malta's contributions to international organisations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1990 he also served as President of the United Nations General Assembly.


Memorial for Guido de Marco in Valletta

On 4 April 1999, de Marco was appointed President of Malta. He led his country into the European Union in 2004.

He became an honorary doctor at St. Petersburg State University in 2004 "for achievements in science and politics, in particular, for his efforts to integrate Malta into the EU."

Declining health and death

On 5 August 2010, de Marco underwent an angioplasty to widen an obstructed heart artery. The intervention developed complications which led him to a critical, but stable condition. A series of medical bulletins were issued immediately by the medical team at Mater Dei Hospital, stating that De Marco was responding to treatment and showing signs of improvement. His condition continued to improve by the hour, to the extent of being taken off life-support machines. Five days later he was discharged from Mater Dei Hospital, but monitored closely by the medical team.

On 12 August 2010, de Marco gave an interview with Maltese newspaper The Times of Malta, in which he said: "When I came round from the coma I no longer felt I was going to die. I felt I was going to remain. I'm here to stay ... for now at least."

However, in the afternoon, de Marco was rushed to Mater Dei Hospital once more, after collapsing in his home in Sliema. He died at the hospital. The news of his death shocked the nation, which was at the moment relieved with the previous improvement in his condition. The government declared three days of national mourning. A state funeral was held on Monday, August 16, 2010.

Messages of solidarity and expressions of sorrow were issued immediately by the President of the Republic, the Nationalist Party, the Labour Party, as well as from other entities and the diplomatic corps. The Maltese prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, interrupted his vacation to return to the island. Gonzi declared that "Malta lost one of the most prominent politicians in recent times. He was fundamental for the country's independence, contributed to strengthening democracy, served very important roles in strengthening our country's international relations and occupied important roles in the United Nations. His Presidency has united the country." Opposition leader Joseph Muscat called the death "a national loss." Edward Fenech Adami, De Marco's successor as President of Malta, was said to be "shaken" by the news, hailing De Marco as "a protagonist in the past forty to fifty years of Maltese history." Fenech Adami's successor, George Abela, President of Malta at the time of de Marco's death, added that "Academically, [Guido de Marco] definitely excelled," calling him a "jovial person...[who]...sang along throughout the recent Joseph Calleja concert." Abela expressed his condolences personally to the De Marco family at Mater Dei Hospital.

The grave of de Marco at the Addolorata Cemetery in Paola.

Tributes flowed into Malta from abroad. President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek called him "a highly respected politician and statesman ... who was deeply respected all over Europe." Former Libyan ambassador to Malta Saad Elshlmani said "On a personal level he was more than just a friend," adding that "people in the Middle East will remember him for his great attachment to the issues of tolerance, cooperation and friendship." United States ambassador Douglas Kmiec also issued a statement: "His tenure as President of the United Nations General Assembly, and his skill and perseverance in guiding Malta to EU membership are great tributes to his statesmanship."

His funeral took place on 16 August 2010, attended by dignitaries, including Kuwaiti Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the widow of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, Suha Arafat, Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Vincenzo Scotti, and several ambassadors.


National honours

Foreign honours

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