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 The original EU proposal of linking funds to a take-back of immigrants who did not qualify for asylum had to be withdrawn as the African side of the Summit refused the bait.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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Joseph fil-Ġnus Magħquda

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Huwa tajjeb li Joseph Muscat il-bieraħ fl-Assemblea Ġenerali tal-Ġnus Magħquda tkellem dwar l-immigrazzjoni. Dwar il-ħtieġa tal-involviment ta’ kulħadd, għax wara kollox, din hi problema globali.

L-emfasi tiegħu fuq il-ħtieġa li jkun indirizzat dak li qed jikkawża l-immigrazzjoni kienet ukoll emfasi flokha. Mhux biss iċċaqlieq minħabba l-gwerer, imma issa ukoll minħabba t-tibdil fil-klima. Mhux biss is-Sirja, imam anke s-Sudan, is-Somalja, l-Etijopja u l-Eritreja. Għax kulħadd għandu ħabta jinsa ukoll.

Huwa tajjeb li dan nibqgħu insemmuh, għax dan huwa kompletament differenti mill-politika tal- pushbacks li kienet il-politika ta’ Joseph Muscat u l-Gvern tiegħu sa sentejn ilu. Imma jidher li fetaħ għajnejh sewwa. Dan għandu jkun rikonoxxut kontinwament għax il-kambjament hu kbir ħafna. Ferm aħjar milli jistqarr dubji dwar jekk il-pajjiż għandux iħares l-obbligi internazzjonali tiegħu.

Mill-kummenti li nisimgħu hu ċar li dan mhux kulħadd jifhmu jew jaqbel miegħu. Għax biex timplimenta politika rejali ta’ solidarjetà mhuwiex faċli. Dejjem, ovvjament,  jekk tkun temmen f’dak li tkun qed tagħmel.

 

Il-millimetri li ċċaqlaq Joseph Muscat

pushbacks + Joseph Muscat

It-Times online tal-bieraħ irrappurtat lil Joseph Muscat jgħid hekk:

“Most of what was said today by central European was said in the past by Mediterraneans… We had the luxury of retaining the position we had taken then without even needing to shift just one millimetre.”

Dr Muscat said he was proud to have attended a summit where Malta was not asking for help but offering it. The number of refugees allocated to Malta, a total of 189, was extremely manageable and people could be really welcomed. The decision also gave Malta strength and credibility politically that if it was faced with problem once again there was a blueprint in place and it could ask for assistance.

(Times of Malta 23rd September 2015)

 

Ma nistax ma niftakarx f’Joseph Muscat ieħor li f’Lulju 2013 kien rappurtat jgħid hekk :

“Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has reaffirmed his government’s position not to exclude the controversial pushbacks of migrants at sea, even though he has acknowledged that the practice employed by the Italian government in the past was found to be illegal by the European Court of Human Rights. Muscat today brushed aside criticism from NGOs who took his position on migrant pushbacks to task, saying that his government had a mandate to take a “strong position”.

(Malta Today 6th July 2013)

Nistgħu ngħidu li għamel progress! Mexa ħafna millimetri l-quddiem!

 

 

 

Iċ-ċaħda ma ssolvi xejn: kun trasparenti

 

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Il-gazzetta Taljana Il-Giornale tal-Ħamis 17 ta’ Settembru qabdet ma kelmtejn li qal il-Ministru tal-Intern Malti Carmelo Abela u waslet għal konklużjoni li hemm ftehim sigriet bejn Malta u l-Italja li permezz tiegħu l-Italja iġġorr il-piz tal-immigranti f’dawn l-ibħra u min-naħa l-oħra Malta ser tagħlaq għajnejha għall-esplorazzjoni għaż-żejt mill-Italja f’żoni fejn dan hu ikkontestat.

Il-Gvern Malti ċaħad li hemm dan il-ftehim. Tajjeb li saret din iċ-ċaħda, għax ngħid il-verità jiena ukoll rajtha ftit imġebbda. Għax kieku dan kien minnu kien ikun ġustifikat li l-Gvern jiġi akkużat bi tradiment. Imma ma naħsibx li hu l-każ.

Minkejja dan, iżda, ċ-ċaħda ftit li xejn ser issolvi. Għax hu ovvju li xi tip ta’ ftehim hemm. Anke jekk hu ftehim li hu biss wieħed ibbażat fuq il-ħbiberija.

Kien ikun tajjeb kieku l-Gvern, apparti ċaħda, ippubblika d-dokumentazzjoni li għandu dwar l-arranġamenti li wasal għalihom mal-Gvern Taljan.

Għax ngħiduha kif inhi, kemm Joseph kif ukoll uħud mill-Ministri ta’ madwaru iħobbu jiżolqu biex jevitaw milli jagħtu l-informazzjoni. F’materja sensittiva bħal din, għaldaqstant iċ-ċaħda ftit li xejn ser issolvi.

Is-sejħa li nagħmel lil Gvern hi waħda: poġġi l-karti kollha fuq il-mejda, illum qabel għada. Kun trasparenti.

Naqbel ma’ Joseph ……………. u ma’ Hermann, u ma’ Michael u ma’ Ralph

Joseph Muscat ihobb jiccajtahermann schiavonemichael-briguglioRalph-Cassar

 

Il-bieraħ Joseph tkellem dwar is-solidarjetà. Solidarjetà mal-Greċja u l-Italja huma u jissieltu biex bir-riżorsi limitati tagħhom jassistu lir-refuġjati. Joseph qal li “ma nistgħux nitkellmu dwar solidarjetà jekk meta tiġi s-siegħa tal-prova ma nipprattikawhiex.”

Wara din id-dikjarazzjoni ċara ta’ Joseph favur is-solidarjetà ikun xieraq jekk huwa ukoll jingħaqad mal-kunsilliera Hermann Schiavone (kunsillier f’Birżebbuġa), Michael Briguglio (kunsillier f’Tas-Sliema, Ralph Cassar (kunsillier f’Ħ’Attard) u ma’ ħafna kunsilliera oħra ta’ rieda tajba li qed jipproponu illi l-komunitajiet tagħna jaddottaw familja ta’ refuġjati mis-Sirja.

Fi kliem Joseph, din hi is-siegħa tal-prova u għalhekk ikun xieraq li l-Gvern Malti jissieħeb mal-Kunsilli Lokali u l-NGOs li jixtiequ b’solidarjetà jaddottaw familja Sirjana.

Dan ikun messaġġ ċar ta’ solidarjetà, li l-poplu Malti dejjem wera ma’ min hu dgħajjef u mgħakkes.

Joseph: issa favur is-solidarjetà, daqshekk pushbacks

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Huwa b’sodisfazzjon li qed naqra li Joseph Muscat il-bieraħ flimkien ma Matteo Renzi Prim Ministru Taljan tkellem dwar Ewropa li trid tkun waħda ta’ solidarjetà ma’ dawk kollha maħruba minn pajjiżhom, il-bogħod mill-ġlied u mit-terrur.

Qed jitgħallem ftit mingħand Matteo Renzi li l-bieraħ ġo Palazzo Medici Firenze kien qed jgħid li: “L-Ewropa trid turi l-lat uman tagħha. Dan xi drabi jinħass in-nuqqas tiegħu, kif jidher min-nuqqas ta’ rispons ta’ mexxejja oħra, Ma hemm l-ebda triq oħra għajr dik li nsalvaw il-ħajja ta’ dawk li jippruvaw jaqsmu l-Mediterran.”

Dan hu Joseph differenti minn dak li sentejn ilu ordna lill-Air Malta biex tkun għal-lest ħalli tieħu lill-immigranti lura l-Libja. Dakinnhar żammitu l-Qorti Ewropeja tad-Drittijiet tal-Bniedem fi Stasbourg.

Dan huwa l-istess Joseph li kien favur il-pushbacks.

Huwa tajjeb li qed jitgħallem ftit. Avolja meta jitkellem favur is-solidarjetà għadu ma tantx jitkellem b’konvinzjoni.

Imma bil-mod, għax għadu qed jidhra b’vokabolarju ġdid. Wara kollox trid tagħtieħ ftit ċans!

Kif jinbidlu l-ideat!

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Huwa ta’ sodisfazzjon li l-ideat tal-politiċi fil-Parlament dwar l-immigranti inbidlu tul is-snin.

Niftakru sewwa meta l-PN fil-Gvern kien jappoġġa lill-Gvern Taljan. Dakinnhar il-Gvern Taljan b’Berlusconi Prim Ministru u l-Legista Roberto Maroni Ministru tal-Intern kien qed imexxi l-quddiem politika ta’push-back: jiġifieri li jimbotta lill-immigranti lura lejn il-Libja. Inkella jekk isalvhom jeħodhom lura fil-Libja.

Ankè Joseph Muscat bħala Prim Ministru bl-appoġġ ta’ Manwel Mallia Ministru tal-Intern mexxa l-quddiem politika ta’ push-backs. Niftakru meta ordnaw ajruplani tal-AirMalta, biex jieħdu lill-immigranti lura lejn il-Libja fis-sajf tal-2013. Dakkinhar il-Gvern immexxi minn Muscat kien inżamm mill-Qorti Ewropeja tad-Drittijiet tal-Bniedem fuq talba tal-għaqdiet Maltin li jaħdmu favur id-drittijiet tal-immigranti.

Dawk iż-żmienijiet fortunatament spiċċaw għax issa jidher li kkonvertew u m’għadhomx jitkellmu jew ikesksu favur il-push-backs.

Huwa ta’ sodisfazzjoni li anke fuq din ġew jaqblu ma Alternattva Demokratika li dejjem tkellmet kontra l-push-backs u favur is-solidarjetà.

Huwa tajjeb li issa lkoll leħen wieħed kontra push-backs u favur is-solidarjeta. Hekk bħala pajjiż aħna ħafna iktar kredibbli meta ninsisitu li l-Unjoni Ewropeja għandha terfa’ parti mill-piż magħna l-Maltin.

Iż-żjara tal-President Ġermaniż f’dan is-sens hi ukoll ċelebrazzjoni favur id-dinjità tal-immigrant. Tajjeb ħafna. Imma għad baqa’ ħafna x’isir għax għadna fil-bidu.

 

The Summit of Shame

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Thursday’s EU Heads of Government Summit was a summit of shame. Through its conclusions, the European Council showed once more that, collectively, it lacks the moral spine to address the xenophobic fringes of European society.

The special summit ended up being just a collection of half-baked measures.  The EU heads of government have ignored the calls of the  political groups of the EU parliament which called for a more coherent EU migration policy, and for fixed quotas of asylum-seekers to be taken in by each and every EU member country.

Despite the available financial resources being increased, only a limited mandate has been given to the Triton operation for the saving of lives in the Mediterranean. No possibility of applying for humanitarian visas directly in the troubled countries in the African continent has been made possible and, with all its vaunted cry of responsibility-sharing, there is only the establishment of a voluntary pilot project on resettlement across the EU of people qualifying for protection.

These half-baked decisions will not solve the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean: they will only make it worse.

The number of immigrants waiting along the Libyan coast are said to be close to one million. They are there in the hope of building a new future. They know  they are risking their lives but, most probably, they will still try – they have been  at the wrong end of the stick for many years.

They are escaping from war, violence and endless poverty and they have a right to be helped and rescued. Triton is not fit for this purpose, not only because of its limited resources but also because it is primarily aimed at protecting borders and not at rescuing people.

The illusion that stopping Mare Nostrum would discourage these dangerous trips has been proved false: migrants and asylum-seekers have continued flocking to Europe at an increased rate and this situation will not change in the  coming weeks and months. The member states of the EU have to acknowledge that priority needs to be given to saving lives and giving refuge to people, not making ‘fortress Europe’ even more impenetrable, because this has been shown to be tragically impossible.

There is no way around it: all EU member states must accept a greater share of refugees and facilitate legal access to the EU. Instead of sealing borders, procedures and safe corridors must be set up to this effect and it is therefore urgent to establish a properly financed, European wide Mare Nostrum to enhance the search for and rescue of people drifting in the Mediterranean Sea.

The EU heads of government do not have the moral spine to stand up to Europe’s xenophobic fringes. They do not have the political will to implement a policy of solidarity across the EU.  I can therefore only conclude that this week’s  EU Summit can be considered a summit of shame, as it has prioritised the security of borders over  the safety of human beings.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 26 April 2015

Fin-nofs, nisfidaw il-mewt

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L-immigranti miġburin mat-tul tal-kosta tal-Libja jafu li ser jisfidaw il-mewt. Imma f’pajjiżhom m’għandhomx futur. Bejn is-sogru kbir għal ħajjithom, x’ħin ikunu bejn sema u ilma, u l-ħajja ta’ miżerja f’pajjiżhom lesti jissugraw. Il-miżerja f’pajjiżhom hi tant kbira li ma jaħsbuwiex darbtejn biex jiffaċċjaw l-isfruttament tan-negozjanti tal-mewt u l-qilla tal-baħar.

Qed jingħad li ħallsu $2,000-il ras għal-passaġġ bejn il-Libja u Sqallija fuq biċċa qoxra li għerqet. Għalihom aħjar il-mewt mill-ħajja li qed jiffaċċjaw.

X’għandu jsir? Żgur li ma baqax iktar ħin għall-paroli. L-imblokk tal-portijiet minnfejn jitilqu l-immigranti m’hu ser isolvi xejn. Dan diġà sar u bħala konsegwenza kien hemm iktar li issugraw ħajjithom.

Il-ġlieda kontra n-negozjanti tal-mewt li qed tipproponi l-Unjoni Ewropeja hi pass tajjeb. Imma l-iktar li hu meħtieġ hu li l-Libja jkollha Gvern demokratiku li jkun jista’ jgħaqqad lill-pajjiż u jmexxih b’awtorità. Gvern li jkun jista’ jikkontrolla l-kosta u l-fruntieri u jirrispetta lil niesu. Ankè dan il-pass, meta jseħħ, ikun pass kbir il-quddiem, imma mhux biżżejjed.

L-immigranti jieqfu ġejjin meta jkun jagħmel sens għalihom li jibqgħu f’pajjiżhom. Meta l-għajnuna internazzjonali li diġà qed tingħata lil pajjiżhom, tibda tħalli l-frott. Meta pajjiżhom ma jibqax iktar għarkuptejh.

Ħafna mill-immigranti ġejjin minn żoni ta’ gwerra ċivili. Inkella minn pajjiżi fejn in-nuqqas ta’ xita wasslet l-agrikultura f’kollass totali. Il-bidla fil-klima fil-fatt hi ukoll waħda mill-fatturi li qed timbotta lill-immigranti biex jitilqu minn pajjiżhom.

F’wieħed minn dawn il-pajjiżi, is-Somalja, l-amministrazzjoni pubblika tal-pajjiż iddiżintegrat u mhux faċli li tinbena mill-ġdid. Il-komunita internazzjonali – inkluża l-Unjoni Ewropeja – diga ħadmet ħafna f’dan is-sens, imma r-riżultati jiġu bil-mod.  Imma fl-aħħar din hi l-unika soluzzjoni.  Meta jkun possibli li l-immigranti irabbu l-fiduċja f’pajjiżhom mill-ġdid, imbagħad tinstab soluzzjoni dejjiema għall-mewġa tal-immigranti fil-Mediterran li kontinwament jisfidaw il-mewt.

Sadanittant kull min hu irrabjat għall-immigranti għandu jdur fuq dawk il-pajjiżi li jinnegozjaw l-armi u armaw liż-żewġ naħat fil-gwerer ċivili.  Inkella jista’ jdur fuq dawk il-pajjiżi li mhux jagħmlu biżżejjed biex jindirizzaw il-bidla fil-klima. L-immigranti huma l-vittmi f’dan kollu u għandhom ħtieġa kbira ta’ solidarjeta rejali.

Pajjiżna huwa prattikament l-ewwel fruntiera għal dawn in-nies. M’hiex għażla tagħna, l-anqas m’hi għażla tagħhom, iżda hi għażla tal-ġografija li poġġiet lil pajjiżna fuq ir-rotta tal-immigrazzjoni.

Ħlief għal xi mumenti qosra taħt kull wieħed minn l-aħħar żewġ Gvernijiet, meta kien hemm xi boloħ jitkellmu jew irewħu favur il-push-backs, pajjiżna dejjem kien fuq quddiem b’solidarjetà rejali.  Hekk għandu jibqa’ avolja l-piż hu kbir u ma nifilħux għalih waħedna. Għax li nagħmlu dak li hu sewwa m’għandu qatt jiddependi minn kemm ħaddieħor jagħmel jew ma jagħmilx dmiru. Ir-rispett lejn id-dinjità tal-bniedem huwa dak li għandu jmexxina l-quddiem. Hu tajjeb li dan issa jidher li hu aċċettat u li ġie imwarrab il-ħsieb li Malta tista’ xi darba tikser apposta l-obbligi internazzjonali tagħha.

Qegħdin hawn f’nofs il-Mediterran biex nisfidaw lill-mewt w inkunu għassiesa favur il-ħajja. Sadanittant kull għajnuna li nirċievu, merħba biha.

Traġedja umana madwarna

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Madwarna qed tiżviluppa traġedja umana. Traġedja li qed tintiseġ minn dawk li qed jagħmlu l-kummerċ mill-ħajja umana.

Waqt li l-pajjiżi Ewropej iparlaw u jsejħu laqgħat ta’ emergenza fi Brussel, fil-Mediterran, fuq il-fruntiera tal-Unjoni Ewropeja Malta, l-Italja, Spanja, l-Greċja u Ċipru qed jissieltu biex isalvaw il-ħajjiet. Il-problema mhiex problema ta’ Malta, tal-Italja, ta’ Spanja, tal-Greċja jew ta’ Ċipru. Hi problema tal-Ewropa kollha.

Dak li qed jiġri illum mhux xi ħaga ġdida. Ilna s-snin, bis-sofferenza tkompli tiżdied bil-paroli li s’issa ma jwassal għall-ebda soluzzjoni.

Il-bieraħ it-Tnejn, fil-Lussimburgu, l-Unjoni Ewropeja  ġiebet flimkien lill-Ministri tal-Intern u tal-Affarijiet Barranin tal-Unjoni biex jiddiskutu azzjoni komuni fid-dawl ta’ din it-traġedja. Jidher li hemm kunsens dwar il-ħtieġa ta’ ġlieda ikkordinata kontra n-negozjanti tal-mewt.

Fil-waqt li hu ċar li ser isir sforz kollettiv biex isalvaw lil dawk kollha mitluqa għall-mewt, fittixt fil-gazzetti Maltin online dwar x’ser jiġri minn dawk li jkunu ġew salvati. Ir-risposta sibtha fir-rapport tal-Guardian li jgħid li fuq bażi volontarja l-pajjiżi membri ser jirrilokaw 5,000 ruħ, u dan bħala proġett pilota. Jiġifieri anke issa f’din il-kriżi ta’ proporzjonijiet li qatt ma rajna bħala il-pajjiżi membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja għadhom ma jridux jaċċettaw li għandhom obbligu ta’ solidarjeta’.

Is-solidarjeta m’għandhiex  issir b’mod volontarju: għandu jkun rikonoxxut li hemm l-obbligu biex kull wieħed mit-28 pajjiż membru tal-Unjoni Ewropeja jerfa’ l-piż flimkien mal-pajjiżi membri l-oħra.

Bla dubju dan ser ikun l-argument ta’ Malta fis-summit tal-mexxejja tal-Unjoni Ewropeja nhar il-Ħamis li ġej.  Alternattiva Demokratika taqbel perfettament li Malta tinsisti li kull pajjiż jerfa’ parti mill-piż. Imma konxju li fl-Unjoni hemm mexxejja bħal Cameron li qed jiġġieled elezzjoni ġenerali li fiha qed iwiegħed li jnaqqas d-dħul ta’ immigranti fil-pajjiż, sfortunatmaent jiena ma tantx qed nara possibilita li dan iseħħ.