Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in a Parliamentary statement last night, informed the House of Representatives on all the developments regarding the case of the ship Aquarius with refugees on board, and the position of the Government on this issue.
Replying to questions by the Opposition, the PM welcomed the declaration by Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia who said that the Opposition is on the side of the Government to safeguard Malta’s interest. Dr Delia said that Malta has not breached any international laws, and added that the principle that immigrants should disembark at the closest safe port should be retained. He appealed for the Government and the Opposition to convey a joint message to Europe about this situation.
The PM said that he understands that in this issue, the Opposition is fully supporting the Government, although he noted that another person whom he did not mention by name, but with clear reference to MEP Roberta Metsola, had spoken in a different tone and accused the Government of being populist. The PM said that if with its attitude the Government was being populist, then even the Opposition is populist. The Opposition leader intervened at this point and confirmed that the Opposition speaks with one voice in the national interest.
Earlier, Dr Muscat spoke about the need for the work being done for immigrants by NGO ships to be regulated. He mentioned that the EU is training the Libyan coast guard with funds to which Malta has also contributed. The PM warned against inflating this incident in order not to spread hatred. Dr Muscat reminded Parliament that Malta is one of the EU countries which processes the most asylum applications and also mentioned that Malta is one of the two EU countries which honoured the agreement and took its quota of immigrants from other countries.
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