The Minister for European and Foreign Affairs has tabled in Parliament the Memorandum of Understanding that was reached between Malta and Libya after a meeting held in Tripoli last week.
Minister Evarist Bartolo who was replying to Parliamentary Questions made by MPs Glenn Bedingfield, Beppe Fenech Adami, Karm Mifsud Bonnici and David Thake, said the discussions featured on Libya’s internal situation and steps that have to be taken to prevent the human trafficking in boats that depart from Libya and head for Europe. He said agreement was reached on coordination centres in Malta and Tripoli.
He said the EU has the responsibility for reaching a comprehensive agreement with Libya to curb irregular immigration. Minister Bartolo said the number of immigrants in Malta is disproportionate to the numbers in other European countries. Over the last 15 years EU countries had only taken a relocation of 1,700 immigrants from the 22,000 that had been landed in Malta.
He said that unless the EU takes the appropriate actions it will be rendering itself as irrelevant to Libya. He said that discussions are taking place between the Libyan Government, Russia and Turkey without involving the EU. Minister Bartolo said the security and development of the EU depends on what happens in the Mediterranean and in Africa. He showed his acknowledgement that the EU Commission under Van der Lyon is beginning to take more heed of Africa than was happening under EU Commissioner Junker.
The Minister said that there is often a lack of agreement with Italy on the interpretation of the landing of boats and the Government is following the interpretation adopted by the former Nationalist Party Government.