Europe and the Middle East, not to mention Africa and ‘West Asia’, rubbed shoulders in a kind of extended ‘Mediterranean world’, one which in turn stretched through to the Gulf. An Algerian Foreign Minister in the late 1970s urged the world to think of Algerians as a Mediterranean people in an Arab context rather than an Arab people. Alternatively, he might have been prepared to say that Algerians were an Arab people, but in a Mediterranean context. There might often be disagreement about where the emphasis should be placed, but either way there was an underlying reality. Here was a duality, publicly expressed or not. It was also present, if with different elements, in the cities of Tunis, Tripoli, Alexandria and Beirut. Nor were ‘Northern’ Mediterranean people living in Nicosia or Izmir, Athens or Valetta without duality, a duality further complicated in the case of the islands by continuing Commonwealth membership, the substantial continuing presence of the English language and of British people, whether living as residents or visiting as tourists. An example of this ambiguity was Malta. The Oxford-educated Dom Mintoff, once the ardent but unsuccessful advocate of the island’s integration with the UK, returned to office as Prime Minister in 1971. Malta had been independent since 1964 with the British Queen remaining as its head of state. Mintoff now moved in another direction.
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