The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

‘It is important that one checks the facts before one speaks’ – Farrugia on Salvini salvos

Sunday, 10 June 2018, 09:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

A rather one-sided war of words continues to develop between Italy and Malta over responsibility for migrant rescues after Italy’s new Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini launched a salvo against Malta on Friday. Malta’s Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia told The Malta Independent on Sunday yesterday: “We would prefer to break the ice at this stage and understand each other better rather than face confrontation”.

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On Friday, Salvini commented, “The Good Lord put Malta closer to African shores than Sicily, Malta cannot always say ‘no’ to any request to intervene,” after Malta reportedly refused a request from the Italian coast guard to assist with some 180 migrants in its capacity as the nearest safe port of call to the boat in distress.

"[The vessel] waves as it sails past Malta and then lands in Italy. This is a mockery," Salvini added.

When contacted yesterday, however, Farrugia countered: “We stick to our media release. It is important that one checks the facts before one speaks.

“Hopefully, the relationship between the two countries, which are at the external border, remains good and continues to work in tandem in the interest of our people.”

On Friday, the Maltese denies it had refused to render assistance to migrants at sea, as charged by Salvini, and insisted that: “Malta adheres to all its obligations at all times”. 

“With regard to Search and Rescue, Malta acts in accordance with the international conventions that apply. Malta will continue to respect these conventions with respect to the Safety of Life at Sea, as happened in this latest case and indeed in each case.”

Salvini, on his part, is sticking to his guns and said yesterday that he is investigating Malta’s alleged refusal to lend a hand.

The German foreign ministry is also looking into the matter as the incident involved a German ship.

The Ragusa police are also interrogating the captain of the ship, the Seefuchs, who insists that the Maltese authorities refused permission to the ship to enter Malta.

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