During a meeting held in Castille between Prime Minister Robert Abela and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the Maltese Prime Minister reiterated that for Malta the solution is not to receive money to keep immigrants here but for there to be burden sharing. This is not only Malta’s border, but the border of the European Union, said the Maltese Prime Minister.
Dr Abela also stated that there is a need for a permanent solidarity mechanism through which some immigrants can be relocated given that very few countries have taken in immigrants to be relocated.
“Our reality is that every morning the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Malta reports to us that there are a number of boats from Libya and there are 90, 100 or 120 immigrants in them. This is the reality that the Maltese and Gozitan people are living every day,” said Dr Abela.
Prime Minister Robert Abela said he had followed closely what Ursula von der Leyen had said where there is a need for balance in a solution for humans in a humane way, but this should also include listening to countries, such as ours, which are directly affected by immigration. We agree with this, but we face adverse situations every day and today we are at a point where we no longer have enough facilities to receive more immigrants, stressed Dr. Abela.
There is currently no holistic plan on this challenge and the process is carried out case by case, boat by boat, said Prime Minister Abela, while stating that for every boat there is a stand-off, on who he is responsible, whether the immigrants should enter Lampedusa, the flag carried by the vessel, whether they should return to Libya or what search and rescue area they were in. Here the Prime Minister referred to the case of the Maersk Etienne which spent 38 days outside Maltese territorial waters with 27 immigrants on board and claimed that if each member state symbolically took one immigrant, the issue would been resolved but instead this was ignored.
The Maltese Prime Minister explained how our Armed Forces rescued thousands of people from the sea but at the moment we cannot continue to talk only about solidarity, now we need action. The fact that we will speak at a European Council gives us an opportunity to do so, but the reality is that for the past 4 years, countries like Malta and Italy and others have ended up under pressure due to instability in the Mediterranean, said Robert Abela.
Prime Minister Abela here mentioned Libya and its role in the migration crisis and reiterated the importance of continuing cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard, which already has limited resources. Dr Abela said that Libya is also a victim in this situation and certainly not the country that is creating the problems, in fact, it is actually the country that comes up with the necessary solutions, much more than Europe ever does. The Prime Minister reiterated that Malta must also continue to provide assistance to Libya so that this country can develop and stated that one of the solutions is to restore economic prosperity in this country, as well as for oil production to resume once again.
The Prime Minister also referred to what happened in Lesbos, Greece, which also served as a wake-up call and reiterated that if member countries show commitment, a solution can be found even though the subject is a complex one, said Robert Abela.