What are Italians in Malta feeling about the ongoing immigration wrangle?
Following heated exchanges between Maltese and Italian authorities concerning immigration in recent weeks, TVM sounded out the sentiments of Italians working in Malta.
Since the election of a new Italian Government four months ago, the exchanges have been ongoing regarding vessels with immigrants, more specifically whether they fall under Maltese or Italian responsibility.
Italian Vice Prime Minister and the Minister for Internal Affairs Matteo Salvini on more than one occasion warned Malta that it should accept vessels with immigrants. On the other hand, Malta maintains it is following international regulations.
TVM visited shops and restaurants in Buġibba where there are a number of Italians, mostly Sicilians, who are working and residing in Malta. We asked them, as Italians, how they feel about the ongoing exchanges and how these are affecting their relationships in Malta.
Employees who spoke to us said it is normal to feel tension because after all, when the Maltese feel they are being penned in the situation will explode. They said that as they are here it is natural they feel the tension too. Malta is small and already over-populated and if more people are sent in, they will have to leave.
Others said the situation is not good for Italians currently living in Malta. However, the matter does not directly affect them because as Italians working in Malta they show natural respect for the Maltese in giving them the opportunity to work here and live well here. Politics and what evolves is not of importance.
There were some who said there is no tension. It is the Government’s role to handle and their role is to work.
Another employee said he is not experiencing tension because he is Sicilian and Sicilians have long been experiencing such problems and therefore they do not feel any difference. He said Sicily is full of problems but here these are not experienced and therefore the matter is not their concern.
On the other hand from social media in Malta it is felt that certain voices in Italy indicate the problem is not being seen in reality. This was felt particularly when Italian Mayor Susanna Ceccardi, who was in Malta to study English, said that in Malta one does not see immigrants. This caused a reaction and many posted comments telling her where they can be seen.