The recycled summit

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The Valletta Migration Summit is over. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has described it as a ‘historic summit’. It seems to me that it would be more accurately described as the ‘recycled summit’.

In one of the last speeches at the Summit, on Thursday morning, Senegalese President Macky Sall encapsulated in a few words the sentiments of the African side when he stated that African nations would have no need of aid if multinationals corporations active on the African continent paid their fair share of taxes and a fair price for the natural (African) resources. Of course President Sall left out an important last sentence: he avoided any reference to corrupt politicians generally in sync with these multinational corporations.

Earlier in the week had seen the 20th anniversary of the judicial killing of environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues, who were executed on the orders of a secret military tribunal on the basis of trumped-up charges in Nigeria on 10 November 1995. Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues had  stood up in defence of the Ogoni people against Anglo-Dutch multinational Shell, who ignored one and all in its intensive corporate greed.

The conclusions of the Valletta Summit are nothing but a re-cycling of measures that have been discussed for some time: EU leaders have continued to focus on returning migrants and outsourcing problems to frontline states. This is an approach that the EU had previously attempted with Libyan dictator Gaddafi who, way back in 2010, had demanded €5 billion as his price-tag to stem the flow of immigrants across the Mediterranean. In contrast, the initial carrot dangled before African heads of state was a mere €1.8 billion. Another €3 billion was simultaneously being offered to Turkey by Frans Timmermans Vice President of the EU Commission.

Bargaining with non-EU countries in the hope of trading EU funds in return for re-admission mechanisms is not the right approach. The original EU proposal of linking funds to a take-back of immigrants who did not qualify for asylum had to be withdrawn as the African side of the Summit refused the bait.

The causes of immigration into the EU are various. They range from repression and civil war to the accumulating impacts of climate change – primarily drought and the resulting collapse of domestic agriculture. Matters are made worse as a result of tribal rivalry, as well as the absence of the strong institutions of a democratic state. Consequently, the resulting vacuum is filled by corrupt politicians who, after taking their fill from accommodating multinational corporations seek to top up their spoils through additional contributions from Brussels.

The situation is tricky for the EU as there is no one else to talk to. It is for this reason that the Action Plan tied the proposed €1.8 billion assistance to specific projects subdivided into sixteen priority areas built around five priority domains.

Will this Action Plan solve anything? It is too early to tell, as it is a long-term issue which will be implemented within a number of timeframes specified in the plan itself. The main point of contention remains the immediate short term, during which the pressures on the EU borders will keep increasing to the point that, as Donald Tusk indicated, the whole Schengen process is under threat.

In this context it is pertinent to underline that Malta has recently been spared the troubles as the flow of immigrants ending in Malta has decreased to a trickle as a result of Italy taking up all immigrants that it has intercepted or rescued in Malta’s search and rescue area. The reasons why Italy is behaving in this manner are not yet officially known: the rumour mill has it that oil exploration rights are part of the equation. Originally, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela had indicated that there was some informal agreement with Italy only for him to come back and state that he had been understood.

As stated by Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and Liberal leader in the European Parliament : “The EU leaders have let us down.”

While the Valletta Summit has agreed to a reasonably detailed Action Plan which can form the basis of action in the long term, it has failed at containing the migration crisis in the short term.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 15 November 2015

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Valletta Summit: falliment?

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Il-laqgħa fi gżiritna biex jissaħħaħ il-proċess ta’ djalogu dwar il-migrazzjoni, hu pass il-quddiem. Prosit lil kull min ta’ sehemu fl-organizzazzjoni ta’ dan is-Summit.

Pero, minkejja dan, is-Summit wera li l-flus ma jsolvux il-problemi.

 Ir-realtà tibqa’ waħda: ma hemm l-ebda ċans li tieqaf il-migrazzjoni illegali sakemm ma jinfetħux il-possibilitajiet għall-migrazzjoni legali u bl-ordni. Dan hu pass neċessarju biex l-immigranti ma jibqgħux jipperikolaw ħajjithom. Dan hu dak li jixtiequ l-pajjiżi Afrikani. Imma fl-istess waqt dan hu dak li ma jridux l-istati Ewropej, għax jibżgħu mill-konsegwenzi politiċi. Ir-reżistenza li hemm m’hiex waħda żgħira. F’dan is-sens, is-Summit kien falliment.

Il-migrazzjoni eżistiet minn dejjem u ħadd ma hu ser izommha jew iwaqqafha. Illum, id-dinja saret pajjiz wieħed, iktar minn qatt qabel.  Imma fis-Summit , l-Unjoni Ewropeja baqgħet tipprova, bla suċċess, tmexxi l-quddiem l-idea ta’ Ewropa fortizza.

Il-bniedem jiċċaqlaq minn pajjiż għall-ieħor biex jaħrab mill-persekuzzjoni, jew minħabba nuqqas ta’ ħtiġijiet bażiċi biex jgħix ħajja diċenti. Għandna lil min hu imbuttat min-nixfa, minn agrikultura li qed tikkrolla inkella minn gwerra ċivili. Jaħarbu minn tbatija kbira.

It-tmexxija korrotta f’diversi pajjiżi Afrikani ma tispirax fiduċja għal ġejjieni li jipprometti. Għax wara li l-Ewropej serqu kullma sabu minn diversi kolonji Afrikani li kellhom, l-ftit li baqa’ tberqaq jew qiegħed jitberbaq.

M’huwiex faċli l-anqas li xxettel id-demokrazija f’pajjiżi fejn il-lealtà prinċipali hi lejn it-tribú. Sfortunatament id-demokrazija m’għandhiex egħruq f’dawn il-pajjiżi Afrikani.

It-triq hi diffiċli. Imma huwa essenzjali li l-ħajja ta’ bnedmin tad-demm u l-laħam ma tibqax fil-periklu.

Il-pjan ta’ azzjoni hu ta’ għajnuna. Il-fond ta’ kważi żewġ biljun ewro flimkien ma dak li ser iżidu miegħu l-pajjiżi individwali, huwa pass il-quddiem.

L-ewwel pass minn ħafna oħrajn.

Malta u Għawdex huma mimlija b’dixxendenti ta’ immigranti. Għax Malta dejjem kienet ħanina ma min kien jeħtieġ l-għajnuna.

Imma dan l-ewwel pass kien żgħir wisq għax il-qalb ta’ bosta għadha iebsa ma min jeħtieġ l-għajnuna. Il-flus li l-Unjoni Ewropeja qed toffri jistgħu jtaffu l-qagħda ħażina f’uħud mill-pajjiżi. Imma l-problema ma jidhirx li ser tissolva fil-futur immedjat għax it-traġedja ta’ bnedmin maħruba li jitilfu ħajjithom fil-ħarba ser tibqa’ magħna sa mal-pajjiżi kollha Ewropej jiftħu id-dirgħajn tas-solidarjetà umana u jibdew jittrattaw lill-immigranti ta’ bnedmin u mhux ta’ numri. Kulħadd jeħtieg li jagħti sehemu, mhux biss flus, iżda l-iktar imħabba u solidarjetà.

Is-Summit ipprova jixtri l-kooperazzjoni tal-pajjizi Afrikani. Iżda dawn beżqu fis-sunnara. F’dan is-sens is-Summit kien falliment. Ta’ l-inqas il-Gvern ta’ Malta m’għadux favur il-pushbacks!

Il- ġenn fit-toroq tagħna

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Kulħadd jifhem li fiż-żona madwar Dar il-Mediterran matul is-summit bejn l-Unjoni Ewropeja u l-Istati Afrikani dwar il-migrazzjoni jkun hemm sigurtà stretta, inkluż li ma jkunx possibli l-parking. L-istess jgħodd għaċ-CHOGAM.

Anke li jkun hemm tnaqqis ta’ parking u kontroll strett tal-movimenti fit-toroq huwa raġjonevoli.

Imma l-kwantità kbira ta’ toroq f’kull parti ta’ Malta li ma jistgħux jintużaw la għall-parking u l-anqas biex tgħaddi minnhom hu ġenn.

B’dawn it-tip ta’ miżuri konklużjoni waħda nista’ nasal għaliha: li dawn l-avvenimenti m’għandniex norganizzawhom f’pajjiżna. Għax jekk il-pajjiż ser jieqaf għall-ġimgħa x’siwi fihom?