PN MEP Roberta Metsola has accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of “fanning the flames of racism” with his strongly worded statements on what he terms as 'illegal' immigration.
Speaking at a press conference at the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Dr Metsola said that were Dr Muscat still an MEP, he would find himself most comfortable within the far right fringes of the European Parliament.
Dr Metsola insisted that the best way forward was to proceed with “tact and diplomacy,” slamming the Prime Minister’s “short-sighted and misguided approach.”
Over the past few days the PM has threatened to use Malta’s veto in order to bully the EU into helping share the its immigration burden. He has also not ruled out resorting to push-backs, returning immigrants to their port of origin.
Dr Metsola pointed out that such push-backs are actually illegal.
The MEP said that Malta risks isolation within the EU if the government keeps up its current rhetoric, a point on which EASO head Robert Wisser disagreed.
“I do not have the feeling that Malta is sidelined, Member States are all very equal within the EU,” Dr Wisser said, although he declined to comment on the political aspects of the PM’s recent remarks.
On the previous administrations own track-record on the immigration issue, Dr Metsola said that she never denied that there was room for improvement, but she insisted that the way forward is through respecting international norms and highlighting Malta’s geographical challenges,
She said that 300 immigrants arriving in Malta was the equivalent of 1,000’s arriving in a mid-sized country.