The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Government denies Italian news report claiming Italy, Malta trading migrants for oil rights

Friday, 18 September 2015, 08:27 Last update: about 8 years ago

The Maltese government this afternoon denied allegations made by an Italian newspaper which claimed that Italy is now taking the migrants "that Malta does not want" in exchange for oil rights. The news report followed the recent controversy that ensued after Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela first admitted, than denied that Malta had an informal agreement with Italy for the latter to take all migrants from Malta. 

Mr Abela told journalists on Tuesday that Malta and Italy had come to this informal agreement, which he described as a sign of political maturity. He noted that there were several occasions in the past where the two countries bickered over who should be responsible for the people saved at sea. These tiffs had come to an end, he said.

Not more than an hour later, the Ministry issued a “clarification” in which Mr Abela denied that there was any “informal agreement” with Italy and insisted that what existed was only a “close collaboration” between the two countries where Malta uses all its AFM resources to save migrants from the sea.”

The Minister’s clarification however did not go down well with the Italian media houses, who are questioning the “deal.”

Il Giornale reported yesterday that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has agreed with Joseph Muscat to exchange irregular migrants for oil exploration rights in areas disputed by both Italy and Malta south of Sicily.  

The newspaper says that even MOAS, an NGO, was bringing all the migrants it saved to Italy instead of Malta.

In a statement this afternoon, the government said: "As already stated, the Government of Malta would like to clarify there is no agreement, formal or informal, with the Italian government about immigration. Italy and Malta have been collaborating closely for the past few years to make sure that people are saved at sea. 

Disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea is always conducted as per applicable international obligations to Malta, and as per respective operational plans in case of participation in Frontex or any other operation. Malta has been devoting 100% of its resources to save immigrants at sea.

There are absolutely no discussions or agreements linking migration with oil exploration.

Reports stating the contrary are factually wrong."


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