The Malta Independent 11 November 2019, Monday

Malta not responsible for migrants but still taking reasoned approach - Prime Minister

Sunday, 25 August 2019, 11:21 Last update: about 4 months ago

Although it was not Malta’s responsibility to accept the migrants onboard the Ocean Viking, Malta is doing its job by processing them, and is taking a reasoned approach, the Prime Minister said.

Joseph Muscat emphasised that none of the migrants will stay here in Malta but by following this approach Malta is being a proactive part of the solution, instead of “stamping its feet and being hard-headed”.

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Speaking during a brief interview on One Radio on Sunday morning, Muscat said although the migrants on board were not Malta or Italy’s responsibility, “we wanted to adopt a very different attitude” to its Italian counterpart.

Muscat’s comments came following the disembarkation of 356 migrants onboard the Ocean Viking in Malta, after being stranded at sea for two weeks. This agreement was reached following a promise for redistribution of the migrants in several EU counties. 

After discussing the matter with the European Commission and other governments, including France and Germany, it was agreed the migrants were not Malta’s responsibility and that Malta should not bear the burden, Muscat noted.

Muscat noted that France will be taking in 150 migrants, the “biggest relocation procedure which has ever taken place in the EU.” The rest of the migrants will be taken up by other countries but Muscat said it was up to the member states to announce how much they would take. He did, however, confirm that the government had in handwritten pledges with the numbers agreed.

He emphasised that Malta is the size it is but that we must also protect human life. “Malta is a secure place and we must move forward with common sense and be part of a European proactive solution.”

The image Muscat wants to portray of Malta is a country that can be reasoned and worked with. “The image our country attains internationally is seen through our decisions but also what we stand for.” He said that this is what makes us a “big” country, not in size, but through by the type of decisions we take and the economic results which we are attaining. 

Muscat also commented that when a migrant was killed in Hal Far there was a big uproar but when it was forgotten certain comments were again seen on Facebook.

This week, he said, France sent a private plane to take several migrants, brought in previously to Malta, and Germany will be doing the same next week. The processes were being accelerated and the countries pledging to take the migrants are doing so, despite some allegations that migrants were staying in Malta.


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