The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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Comparing countries

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 13 May 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 14 days ago

To understand the fundamentals of a country’s policies or to pass judgement on them, how useful is it to contrast them with the behaviour of individual persons? I asked myself this question recently during a debate about various political strategies, when such a comparison was drawn.

Personally I do not think it makes sense to do so; or at least, I disbelieve that this works out well enough to help one arrive at an understanding of what is going on – unless that is, what one is really interested in is a quick wrap up. A nation, a country, an ethnic community does not “behave” as if it were a single individual. It covers the lives, the beliefs and the expectations of hundreds of thousands... or if you like, of millions of people living their lives together in classes, social strata, religious, commercial, political organizations plus more. The dynamics of the life and policies that develop within these complex entities cannot just be considered as equivalent to those that feature in the behaviour of an “ordinary” man or woman.


Again, the history of a national community is longer than that of an individual. The same could be said for its comprehension of an own existence, for its “memory” of what is right and wrong, for what needs to be revenged and what needs to be forgotten. To understand a country, one needs to understand it as a country, not as any Jack or Jill.



As of this writing, what has astonished me in the hospitals saga is how one and all would declare that the report resulting from the magisterial inquiry about the issue was/is secret. Yet, “everybody” seemed to know what its main conclusions were going to be/were.

Truly, all walls in these islands are endowed with ears by which to listen and all windows possess eyes by which to observe. Still, it does appear to be clear now that established methods exist by which, in order to achieve some specific aims, sensitive (supposedly confidential) information gets to reach destinations from which it is supposedly debarred.

With time, I’ve gotten to believe increasingly that such aims are associated with an overall intention for nothing to be decided at all, so that everything remains in suspense. All sides can then continue with their allegations and denials, without the truth ever being settled, one way or the other. 



The Mediterranean has become a rather marginal concern for the EU. It is simply being considered as the region from where arrive the most “irregular” migrants and aylum seekers. Initiatives that are being taken are largely intended to “help” the southern countries stop and retain these arrivals within their borders. Among others, such agreements have been concluded with Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon.

Meanwhile the ideas of the past regarding a partnership and cooperation between all sides of the Mediterranean are apparently being considered as ... ideas of the past! There is little impetus driving the projects that are listed in this regard. The EU’s main interest remains focussed on simply servicing the existing association agreements with the southern countries to keep them in force.

Europeans seem to be underestimating a factor that will greatly impact the countries of the Mediterranean south. No matter how the Gaza war comes to an end, it will likely generate a strong political upheaval in Arab countries. If the surge does not rise from government chancelleries, it will make itself felt in a big way in the streets.

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