The Malta Independent 25 March 2019, Monday

Migration will remain an issue for the EU in the weeks, months and years to come - PM

Thursday, 10 January 2019, 16:38 Last update: about 3 months ago

Stability in North Africa means also a longer-term solution for migration, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told ambassadors during an exchange of New Year’s greetings.

“Malta’s geographical position in the central Mediterranean, as well as its fundamental desire for regional peace and stability, means we have been closely cooperating with regional partners to address the challenges the region faces – working together, for sustainable solutions,” he said.

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“We continue to work with regional and international partners towards ensuring Libya’s complete sovereignty over its natural resources. The visit by Libyan Prime Minister Serraj yesterday was not only a continuation of a dialogue between two neighbouring countries, but also a way to keep in touch with friends who are passing through a period of upheaval. A stable Libya is not only important for the Libyan people, who have a special relationship with the Maltese, but also for stability in a region. And with so many resources, it can be a major international player, and even an economic powerhouse.”

Muscat said the issue of migration continues to dominate. “The situation resulted due to NGO vessels intercepting migrants in the Libyan SRR and sailing to Malta instead of the nearest safe port, which exposed serious weaknesses in the governance of this phenomenon. And a lack of understanding by a number of European countries of what is happening at the southernmost part of Europe.”

Muscat thanked the European Commission for its “decisive intervention” as well as the member states that agreed to share the rescued migrants. He said, however, that the solution found “was by no means final.”

“Immigration will remain an issue for Europe in the weeks, months, and many years to come. Ignoring it will be to the detriment of the future of the EU as a union,” Muscat said.

“We support the Global Compact on Migration because we also believe that there needs a global dimension which goes beyond the EU border. A global approach can assist in managing migration in a safe way, and here Africa remains Europe’s most important partner.”

There can be a sensible migration management policy which is humane, but still gives peace of mind to the security concerns of people in the host country, the PM said.

Muscat also spoke on Brexit, describing it as a sad moment for Malta and the EU as a whole.

He said Brexit was a “lose-lose situation and we believe that there’s no outcome – deal or no deal – where either side will be better off than it is today. There will inevitably be consequences of this divorce for both parties, and our aim is to mitigate those as much as we possibly can.”

 “However, while the UK is leaving the Union, it’s not leaving Europe. We will continue to face similar challenges and shared threats, and we will continue to work together with the UK to address them. Which is why we, not only as a Government but as a Union, look forward to a strong and healthy relationship between the EU and the UK in the future, along the lines suggested in the ‘future relationship’ political document.”

“We are also confident that we will be able to build on our long-standing bilateral relationship with the UK. And I am confident that, under any scenario, the rights of Maltese citizens in the United Kingdom will be protected. Similarly, we want the British community here in Malta, present and future, to continue feeling at home. Ultimately, we want to be the most British citizen-friendly EU destination post-Brexit.”

 

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