The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Schembri says he has ‘never commented in favour of Salvini’s politics of leaving people at sea’

Albert Galea Saturday, 24 August 2019, 18:37 Last update: about 7 months ago

Nationalist Party local councillor Justin Schembri, who on Friday spoke of his admiration for Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini, said today  that he never commented in favour of Salvini’s politics of leaving people out at sea, noting that his views are in line with those of the PN and the EPP.

Writing on his personal Facebook profile, Schembri praised Salvini for standing up to the European Union and Italy’s prime minister and not “let his country be accomplices” in the “wave of organised crime” that is coming through the Mediterranean Sea.

Schembri has since deleted this post, but posted a clarification earlier today, saying that his words had been taken out of context.

Schembri said that not everyone understood, or wanted to understand, what he had written and that people had taken his words out of context for a variety of reasons. Therefore, he said, it was his duty to assure that nobody took political advantage and attacked the PN based on what he wrote.

“My personal opinion is the sentiment of many Maltese, irrespective of their political colour,” he said.

“At no point did I say that the life of a person in difficulty should not be given help, so much so that in an article which I wrote and which was published in In-Nazzjon on Wednesday, 21 August 2019, I said: ‘We need to take hard decisions to safeguard Malta in spite of everything as our country has its limits...our country should take the role to help, to save, but not to burden this country with thousands upon thousands of immigrants, coming from whatever country they’re coming,’, he wrote.

Schembri explained that his reference to Salvini was only to show admiration for the fact that he is a politician standing up to the illegal trafficking of vulnerable people, and is therefore protecting Italy’s national interest, despite pressure from the European Union.

“In no way have I ever commented in favour of his politics, especially that of leaving people at sea,” he said.

He said that his appeal is only for Maltese authorities and all those who are leading the country to understand what politics that serves the national interest should entail, and that these same leaders should obtain that which the Maltese people believe in. He said that this does not only apply to irregular migration, but in all other sectors that are leaving a negative impact on the country due to the influx of foreigners in a country which is over-populated and which has its limitations.

“Politicians should speak out and act in the name of the people who elect them, and my comment is in fact about what the Maltese are expecting from the Maltese government,” Schembri said.

“My personal opinion follows the values of the Nationalist Party, which defends the national interest and human dignity, and that of the European family that the PN forms part of (the European People’s Party),” he said.

This newsroom sent questions to the PN on Friday evening, namely as to whether Schembri’s view point lines up with that of the party when party leader Adrian Delia, with whom Schembri is close, had spoken in favour of allowing two NGO vessels into Malta. 

A party spokesperson directed the newsroom to Schembri’s post and to a statement published by the PN and signed by shadow foreign minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici and the party’s international secretary, Roselyn Borg Knight, wherein the party expressed its satisfaction that the Ocean Viking standoff had come to an end.

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