MUNPlanet: Please be so kind to give us some information about KMFAP, its history and purpose?
It’s not an easy task to introduce the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta Federation of the Autonomous Priories. As you can see, even our name is the longest among the sovereign states of the World. We are a direct descendant of the old historical Order of Saint John of Jerusalem - also known as the Hospitaller Knights, or the Knights of Malta, created as an entity in Jerusalem around the year 1040. Let me also remind you that Saint John of Jerusalem is not Saint John the Baptist, as so many confuse it on a regular basis. Based on our research, the core of our Order was established in the 7th century. The existence in different historical periods in different places in the Mediterranean was terminated in 1798 when Napoleon occupied Malta. The Knights immigrated to several countries and continued their activity in autonomous priories.
After the several Autonomous Priories of the Order of Saint John have decided to unite and to federate, more than 100 years ago between 1909 and 1911 in New York, a new name was decided by adding federation of the Autonomous Priories. The Head Offices of the Federation is in the State of New York of the United States of America and its executive offices are in Hungary / Budapest.
Presently the Federation continues its historical tradition of being an Order of Chivalry with the main scope of helping and assisting the people in need, by providing medical and humanitarian assistance, by helping education, culture, development and security of the populations. Certainly our prerogatives and strategies have changed during the centuries according to the political, social and economic situations. In this context, our main objective is to help the people, countries and communities to achieve a better living standard. For this reason we created a network of alliances with strong financial, commercial, political figures, and we work continuously by searching how to offer the best solutions to different problems. We have experiences in most aspects of our globalized world, such as mediation, facilitating investments, and helping in business development, prevention of natural disasters and catastrophes, rescue operations, medical emergencies, anti-human trafficking and modern slavery as well as training and education for handling the above mentioned. In some cases, we are the back channel when regular diplomacy fails.
MUNPlanet: What does it mean to be a Dame or Knight of KMFAP in modern times? What are the criteria or conditions so that someone can become member of your Order?
We are always looking to find people who are share our values and are ready to join our Order to fight for our goals. I have to highlight that in the strict observance of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights of the United Nations, as a State and as an Order, KMFAP makes no distinctions whatsoever and equally respects all races and cultures, as well as the political, personal and religious options of all of its Knights and Dames, both simultaneously as members of the Order and as and as Citizens of the State. We have very affluent and also very poor Knights. KMFAP is not organized along religious principles although for the religious harmony, dialogue and ecumenisms in the Order, His Most Eminent Highness the Grand Master Prince José presides to a Board of Religious Counsellors and Interfaith Pluralism, where several Religions and Churches - such as Christian (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutherans, etc.), Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and some small Churches - are represented by high ranking members.
Two Knights or Dames of our Order should recommend a candidate who will receive an invitation once approved by the Admission Board of Magisterial House, presently lead by Countess Lady Anna Popper. The Knights and Dames come from over 60 countries and its current citizenship accounts for more than 4000. Most of these distinguished members are very successful individuals and highly respected members of their own society.
MUNPlanet: How does the organization of KMFAP look like?
First of all, let me make it clear that we have two parallel structures. Politically this is a neutral Elective Monarchy headed by a Grand Master, elected for life in a democratic process by his fellow Knights and Dames, not depending on the ratification of any Religious Leader or of any Sovereign. The Order is led by a Grand Master and organized in Grand Priories based on the common language, led by the Grand Prior. The State is organized like any other modern state in the World.
The Grand Master is also the Head of the State and of the Government, for what He is assisted by a Government composed by 26 members, between Prime Minister, Ministers, Vice Ministers and State Secretaries.The Grand Master holds the title of Prince in virtue of the decisions enacted by Emperor Rudolf II, on the 20th of March 1607, and by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II on the 16th of July 1620, and also holds the title of Eminence, with equivalence to the rank of a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, given by the Consistorial Decree of the 10th of June 1630 of His Holiness the Pope Urban VIII and later confirmed by “ Motu Proprio “ by His Holiness The Pope Leon XIII on the 12th of June 1888.
Presently the Grand Master and Head of the State of the Federation (KMFAP) is His Most Eminent Highness Prince Jose M. Lecca V. Cosmelli.
We have different institutions like FEMERAID, Malta Cross Foundation International, Pro Deo State University. I also have to mention the several professional councils and colleges. The Magisterial Councils and Colleges are associations of professionals of the same branch of activity created to give to our Knights and Dames the possibility of exchanging and sharing professional experiences and knowledge, organize Conferences, Meetings and Seminars, send and exchange clients with colleagues from other countries. The Councils are destined to professions which require a University Degree, while the Colleges are destined to professions which do not have such requirement. The Councils and Colleges so far created are the following:- Magisterial Medical and Health Care Council - Magisterial Architects and Engineers Council - Magisterial Jurists Council - Magisterial Municipal Council - Magisterial Management and Entrepreneurial College - Magisterial Security College. The Magisterial House of the Federation has several institutions which are able to provide support both to the Magisterial See and to our Knights, such as Magisterial Peace Court - This is not only an internal Court to ensure discipline and good conduct among our Knights, but it is also an Arbitration Court, with judges specialized in international commerce arbitration, and also in arbitration and mediation of conflicts. Magisterial State Guard - Provides not only Ceremonial Guard and VIP protection for the Magisterial House and the Government of the Federation, but also Protection and Security for our Knights and Dames under specific and justified request always strictly within the international and national legal requirements and regulations.
MUNPlanet: How would you explain your title and your roll in the organization?
I was knighted more than 12 years ago. It was the biggest honor of my life. I’m a bearer of the knightly rank, Grand Cross Knight of Malta in the Order and in the Government presently, I’m the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this capacity I have the chance to travel a lot and understand the big picture about the challenges and extensive problems of our World. To be the holder of such an important office is an immense honor but also a considerable burden and responsibility. To be honest I really cherish and admire the “job”. However, as a minister, I’m nothing more than a servant. KMFAP is a sovereign state, without territory and as subjects of the international law maintains full diplomatic and/or consular relations with several countries in the world. The main objective of our diplomacy is to ensure the peaceful coexistence between the nations. We have the right to issue diplomatic and diplomatic service passport.
MUNPlanet: Can you help our readers understand how a knight order can have its own currency?
The Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem started to mint its own currency after the conquest of the Rhodes Island in 1318. In 1530, Emperor Charles V of Spain donated the Maltese Islands in fief to the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and through the intercession of Pope Clement VII, the Order obtained the privilege of striking coins in Malta. The first coins, which appear to have been minted in Malta by the Knights, were struck during the brief reign of Grand Master, Pieto del Ponte (1534-35). The order of St John minted coins in gold, silver, and copper during its 268-year rule in Malta. In 1565 the Order minted fiduciary copper coins. The reverse side of these coins depicted clasped hands surrounded by the legend ’NON AES SED FIDES’, (Not Money But Trust). The minting art of the Order reached its peak in the gold and silver coins issued during the reign of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilehna (1722-1756), who was the first to coin the 12 Zecchini gold piece, the highest denomination in the Order’s coinage. He also introduced the silver 2 Scudi and the 8 and 12 Tari pieces. The highest value silver coin minted by the Order was the Maltese dollar, known as the „pezza”, „oncia d’argento” or „uqija”. This was first issued during the long reign of Grand Master Prince Emmanuel Pinto (1741-1773). In 2008, during the reign of the Grand Master Prince José Cosmelli, in the due and legal exercise of its Sovereignty Rights internationally recognized by many States, the Zecchino was re-established as the basic Currency of The Federation. This first edition of currency coins of the modern times was composed of two different coins, the Silver coin called Tari and the coin made of brass with the value of 2 Zecchini. The coin of 1 Tari has the value of 20 Zecchini.
Exactly 700 years after the first coin was minted by the Sovereign Order of Saint John, a group of very committed Knights of Malta decided to meet the challenges of the modern era by creating CryptoTARI – the ancient TARI coins digital variant. CryptoTARI is issued by an independent private company owned and managed by several Knights of Malta. The issuing knight’s intent is to support international humanitarian activities of several Knightly Orders and Humanitarian Organizations. Furthermore some of the important activities of the IBSSA will also be supported by the project, in particular the Anti Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery program. The leadership of the above mentioned circle of orders and organizations gratefully accept the offered support and recommends the Knights and Dames to support the CryptoTARI project in making it successful.
MUNPlanet: FEMERAID has Emergency Care Services. There are so many places in the world that need your help. How do you choose where you are going to act first?
First of all, to ensure the safety of our fellow Brothers and Sisters and our volunteers during an operation, we have to be somehow present in the country. Unfortunately, in the past, some of our Knights died in a terrorist attack or kidnapping while rescuing others.This presence could be in range from the diplomatic relations to a locally registered entity (foundation, association, NGO etc.) according to the country’s legislation. Unfortunately, our capacity and resources are not unlimited, therefore we have to analyze if we can help in a crisis situation. If yes and the aforementioned conditions exist, than we act very fast. We have our local FEMERAID organizations in many countries and we are looking to develop this network.
MUNPlanet: Can the funds be donated only by members?
No, not at all. We constantly await and accept with great pleasure donations form individuals and legal entities, companies etc. But, we have a very important principle. We are not asking and accepting any financial support from Governments. We think that the funds of a Government collected from the citizens through taxation were not authorized by the citizens to be distributed freely. The other important element of this rule is to keep our sovereignty integrated. As a state without territory, autonomous of any other power, it is easy to say that KMFAP is the only really independent state in the world.
MUNPlanet: What are your plans for the future?
We are in the process to make ourselves more organized. We have to create a sustainable fund to be able to finance our international humanitarian projects and operations. A crucial part of this being Environmental Protection to which I would also like to draw the attention of all of my fellow Knights and Dames. As it seems, we are an invasive species in this world. We don’t use our resources, but rather exploit them, and by doing so, we are slowly and excruciatingly killing our own habitat.
We are working hard to spread the frame of our diplomatic recognitions. In my ministry, we will launch our new website soon Ministry of Foreign Affairs is under construction and it’s not a secret that we would like to be more deeply involved in finding solutions for the challenges of the modern World. We salute all the modern inventions of mankind and we want to integrate and use it more frequently in our daily work.
MUNPlanet: Are there any imperfections in today's humanitarian work? Can it be improved so more people get help?
The main problem, as I see, is the lack of transparency. We all know about the awful stories of how some “humanitarian organizations” are simply stealing donations. In most cases only 20% of the original value of a donation arrives to its addressee which is unacceptable. I’m more than sure that by using blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies this could be changed dramatically.
MUNPlanet: How would you inspire young people to become member of your Order?
It even pains me to say “young people”, because this reminds me that, unfortunately, I’m not young anymore. My first advice to young people is simply: learn, learn and learn. The best investment of your whole life will be what you have learned and studied. Knowledge is power, once you have learned something, nobody can ever take that away from you. The globalized World gives you endless and wonderful opportunities. To be one of us is an exciting adventure. Believe me, we are not a secret society, we don’t want to control the World, but we want to make it a far more livable and lovable place.
DISCUSSION: What is your opinion on the humanitarian activities around the globe today?