The Malta Independent 25 June 2019, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Karl Izzo - A slap in the face to career diplomats

Thursday, 24 January 2019, 10:02 Last update: about 6 months ago

Karl Izzo wasn’t what one would describe as a top waterpolo player, although he did give his contribution to some successes for Sliema ASC. His love for the game continued after his retirement, taking up coaching and recently twice leading the Maltese national waterpolo team to the top 16 in Europe.

But being a good coach – and some people in waterpolo circles are still questioning his abilities here too – and having good contacts in Montenegro should not be enough to open the door to a diplomatic career.

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Karl Izzo, who on Tuesday was approved for the job of ambassador to Montenegro, downplayed accusations that he will be assigned to the task simply because he is a good friend of the Prime Minister’s and of other government members.

He dismissed the notion that it is another “friend of friends” appointment, believing that the relationships he has built with Montenegro are strong enough for him to take over that role.

We beg to differ.

Izzo’s appointment is a slap in the face to all career diplomats who painstakingly make it through the ranks of the diplomatic service before taking office as Izzo will be doing shortly simply because – his words – he has visited Montenegro many times on matters related to sports and he coached Malta into the top 16 of Europe.

The way he reacted to questions posed by a MaltaToday journalist soon after the Public Appointments Committee gave the green light to his nomination – with the Opposition members voting against – confirmed doubts about his diplomatic skills. We do hope that he will react differently when faced with more complex situations, seeing that he will be, after all, representing us in another European country.

Let’s make things clear. Izzo’s appointment is not the first, and neither will it be the last, to create controversy. There have been many others in these six years of Labour government, and before that too, and there will be more. Because parties in government, in spite of what they say and promise, tend to be kind and pay back people who have given them service, even when deep down they know that they are not making the best choice.

The Labour Party promised meritocracy before it was elected to office in 2013, but it has not kept its word on that. People who were close to the party, appeared on billboards and worked to get Labour elected were compensated, one way or the other, once the objective was achieved.

Some were given appointments on boards, others were given lucrative contracts and some were appointed ambassadors. Izzo will soon join the long list.

The Labour government knows that it is in a position of strength, given the way it won the last election and the chaos that persists in the Nationalist Party. It knows that appointments such as Izzo’s are set to bring about a negative reaction, but it goes for them anyway because it can afford to create a wave of opposition.

But Labour should nonetheless show more respect to the people when it chooses their representatives and most of all respect others in the same position – in this case Malta’s other envoys abroad, most of whom carry out their work diligently and responsibly, and after having accumulated the necessary experience for such delicate positions.

 

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