Current Affairs
EU’s highest diplomat in Malta to discuss the Libya and immigration issue

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that Malta’s stand on the European mission to fight arms trafficking towards Libya, known as IRINI, is still the same it was some weeks ago.

During a meeting with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Josep Borrell, the Prime Minister complained that tangible and concrete assistance on immigration issues are missing in a great part of the European Union. He said that assistance offered by some of the countries is small compared to the number of immigrants.

He referred to the current issue of a group of 52 immigrants, who are waiting to be disembarked. Dr Abela stated that the group entered in Malta’s search and rescue area after Italy refused its entry in its port despite that it was the closest. He asked why pressure is now being exerted on Malta to accept the immigrants. The Prime Minister stated that one per cent of Malta’s total population are immigrants and there is a problem of migrants sleeping outside Valletta.

Dr Abela said that immigration is a sensitive issue for Malta, which should not shoulder alone the burden. He said that Malta remains committed in the European project, however it wants tangible solidarity and concrete action for immigration. The Prime Minister stated that economic development, peace and stability in Libya are crucial. He added that a crucial point for Malta is that lives should not continue to be lost at sea, saying that in recent weeks Libya assisted Malta in various ways and had a crucial role in the saving of lives.

The Prime Minister stressed that the European Union should do its part and assist the Libyan Government and Libyans, and insisted for a relocation mechanism which is automatically applied.

Dr Abela stated that solidarity should be developed in concrete assistance. He said that in the worst part of the pandemic, Libya came forward to assist Malta.

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said that Malta is an important part of the solution for this issue. He recognised the good relations between Malta and Libya, and expressed solidarity with Malta. He also referred to a permanent solution for the immigration issue.

Borrell is in Malta for talks with the country’s highest authorities on immigration and the situation in Libya.