The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Zelenskyy speech - PR stunt turned into embarrassment

Friday, 13 May 2022, 11:30 Last update: about 4 months ago

The government probably saw it as a positive PR stunt when it invited the Ukrainian president to address the Maltese Parliament.

To have Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the hero of Ukraine, address Maltese MPs at the invitation of our Foreign Minister would surely have been regarded as a feather in the government's cap.

But it ended up backfiring and turning into an embarrassing moment for Robert Abela and his government.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not mince his words. He told Malta it should immediately block all Russian exports and stop its passport scheme, the latter having been a blot on Malta's reputation since its inception.


While Malta suspended the sale of passports to Russians some months ago, the suspension will likely be lifted once the conflict ends, whenever that may be. And this does not send out a strong enough message to the Putin government.

Malta has also been slow in addressing the issue of superyachts belonging to Russian oligarchs berthing in Malta.

While, as the Prime Minister pointed out, Malta cannot intervene militarily or send weapons to Ukraine, it can do much more to show solidarity with the war-torn nation.

It must be firmer in its stance against the Russian government and, like other Western nations, show that it is ready to boycott Moscow on all levels.

Hearing Zelenskyy speak about our golden visa scheme was an embarrassing moment for Malta.

The Ukrainian president spoke of the thousands killed, the number of missiles fired towards civilian targets, the bloodshed that continues to take place and Russia's plans to prolong the war.

He said Ukrainians need all diplomatic instruments in order to save them from the war and that Europe has failed to provide weapons to rescue civilians and military forces from the city of Mariupol.

He also pointed out that the war in Ukraine is having global effects, including on food production and prices, and on migration. And Malta is not immune to such factors.

This is why the government cannot take a soft approach with Moscow. Hard measures must be implemented to force Russia to back off once and for all, for the killing in Ukraine to stop.

We are not saying that Malta can make much of a difference on its own. But, as a European Union Member State, Malta must be more aggressive in its relations with Russia, to show that it means business and will not stand for what is happening in Ukraine.

The need for this only increased after the war crimes committed by Russian troops - and which the Kremlin continues to deny - were uncovered.

The Russian government has shown how unreasonable it is, with Putin rambling on during the 9 May victory parade and drawing parallels between what is happening today and the war against Nazi Germany 80 years ago.

The argument he makes is simply beyond belief. He continues to justify the atrocities committed in Ukraine through irrational political rhetoric. And since there is no end in sight to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is clear that all nations, Malta included, must step up their game and stop playing nice with Moscow.



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