The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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PESCO

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 23 May 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 24 days ago

PESCO (“Permanent Structured Cooperation”) is an EU programme by which the armies of the member states cooperate and coordinate together exercises and military projects. Participation is voluntary... up to now.

The journey towards PESCO was started by the Lisbon Treaty which was  signed on the 13 December 2007 and came into effect two years later. The programme has continued to grow and expand its range of activities. Malta remained outside its structure (at least officially) in the belief it could be equivalent to a military alliance, which was a wise decision. The same cannot be said for our membership in the Partnership for Peace programme, in which we remained and still are a member.

Pressures have continued to build up for the “defence” sector to become a vital pillar of the EU. As a result, the role of PESCO will become more central. One imagines that the pressures for this country to take part in it will grow. It would be a good idea were the government to carry out a public assessment of where we send on this issue, declare what its conclusions are, and in discussion with all the social components of the country, clarify for the benefit of one and all, Malta’s position.

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BOXING

I’ve been told that the popularity of boxing as a sport is growing. It appears that the recent world championship heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk attracted a phenomenal TV audience although for some, Usyk’s victory was hugely controversial. Meanwhile, the popularity of women’s boxing has also apparently soared – as a sport not as some pornographic show.

Frankly – even if with this, I’m going to offend boxing fans – I totally dislike what’s going on. I still cannot comprehend the fun of seeing two men (and now women) doing their best to hurt each other (and to be sure, it is of no concern if they do succeed to really hurt each other badly). All too often, winners and losers end up bloodied with extreme injuries. And one cannot help remembering what happened to fighters like Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) later in their lives, as a consequence of the blows they had absorbed eduring their “sporting” life.

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VENICE AND MALTA

One regularly hears how tourism, with all its positive impact on the island’s economy, has become “too much”. It is creating huge inconveniences for citizens and is placing excessive demands on the country’s resources which are buckling under the strain.

Similar complaints are being made in other tourist destinations. The travel upsurge that followed the end (if it can be called that) of the Covid pandemic has provoked such reactions. From Spain to Italy to Greece. Perhaps one should consider following the example of Venice which has introduced a tax to be paid before entering the city centre as a tourist.

Given our smallness this could make sense here as well, since it would be applied just to certain areas. If this were to happen though, which zones should be identified as restricted areas? Mdina? Comino? The Citadel in Gozo?There will be some people for this, others who prefer that. The question is also bound to arise: Would restrictions of access to the chosen place or places, apply only to tourists or would it also cover all Maltese who do not reside there?

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