Is-sovranità tagħna mhiex għall-bejgħ

Hawn sinjali u indikazzjonijiet konfliġġenti dwar x’inhu għaddej bejn Malta u l-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika fuq negozjati dwar kundizzjonijiet li jirregolaw il-presenza ta’ militari Amerikani fuq teritorju Malti. Dak li hu magħruf bħala  Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Il-presenza f’Malta tas-Segretarju tad-Difiża Amerikan  Mark Esper iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa jindika mhux biss li t-taħdidiet huma għaddejjin, imma fuq kollox li huma fi stadju kritiku. Uffiċjalment ħadd ma jaf iktar minn hekk, ħlief dawk li għandhom idejhom fil-borma!

Billi hemm skiet kważi perfett – silenzju stampa – dwar il-materja, hu naturali li bħalissa għaddejja ħafna spekulazzjoni dwar dak li għaddej.

L-Istati Uniti ilha s-snin turi xewqa għal ftehim SOFA mal-Gvern Malti, imma kull Gvern repetutament qagħad lura. L-indikazzjonijiet illum huma  il-possibiltà ta’ insistenza Amerikana għal rabta  bejn ftehim u l-proċess tal- Moneyval dwar l-osservanza ta’ standards internazzjonali li jirregolaw il-ħasil tal-flus.

Kemm ir-rappreżentanti tal-Gvern Malti kif ukoll dawk tal-Gvern Amerikan jiċħdu li hemm din ir-rabta. Imma fin-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni iktar konkreta nistgħu nkunu nafu biss matul il-ġimgħat u x-xhur li ġejjin. Jekk il-Gvernijiet humiex ser iħokku dahar xulxin ikun magħruf diplomatikament, kif jiġri ħafna drabi bejn l-istati  fil-maniġġi internazzjinali globali, kontinwament.

Fil-politika internazzjonali m’hemmx ħbieb, hemm biss interessi. Ir-relazzjonijiet diplomatiċi kontinwament ifittxu l-aħjar mod kif jaġevolaw dawn l-interessi. L-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika qed tfittex u tħares l-interessi tagħha meta tipprova issib mod kif tasal għal ftehim SOFA li jirregola l-presenza ta’ militari Amerikani fuq teritorju Malti. Din hi l-politika internazzjonali.  

Hu magħruf li Malta tablet l-assistenza tal-Istati Uniti biex tegħleb il-pressjoni internazzjonali dwar il-proċess tal-Moneyval li jirregola jekk il-pajjiż huwiex qiegħed miexi sewwa dwar il-ħasil tal-flus fuq territorju Malti.

Id-diċeriji jindikaw li l-Istati Uniti lesta tgħin, imma għal din l-għajnuna hemm prezz: il-ftehim li ilhom jixtiequ. Din hi opportunità li mhux la kemm terġa’ titfaċċa. Kif nafu: ħadd ma jagħmel xejn għal xejn.

Ftehim SOFA jistabilixxi l-qafas li fih il-militar Amerikan jopera f’pajjiżi barranin. Ftehim ta’ din ix-xorta jistabilixxi jekk u kif il-liġijiet ta’ Malta japplikawx għall-militar Amerikan u għall-ħidma tagħhom, inkluż kull apparat (inkluż il-flotta navali) li jistgħu jġibu magħhom. Ftehim ta’ din ix-xorta meta jkun negozjat – jista’ jwassal għal konċessjonijiet u eċċezzjonijiet b’mod li mhux il-liġi Maltija kollha tkun tapplika għall-mistednin tal-Gvern ta’ Robert Abela.

Dan kollu jwassal għal mistoqsija bażika: il-Gvern Malti qed jikkunsidra proposta tal-Istati Uniti li jkun hawn il-militar Amerikan jopera minn teritorju Malti?  Ma għandi l-ebda dubju li ftit huma l-Maltin li jaqblu ma proposta bħal din, jekk teżisti. 

Tul is-snin fil-pajjiż żviluppa kunsens nazzjonali li m’hawnx post għall-militar ta’ pajjiżi barranin fuq artna.  

Nistgħu allura naslu għall-konklużjoni li l-Gvern Malti qed ikun rikattat: Ftehim SOFA jekk trid l-għajnuna dwar il-proċess Moneyval? Sfortunatament ma tantx nistgħu naslu għal konklużjoni differenti.

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, Alternattiva Demokratika u l-Partit Demokratiku (li fi żmien qasir ser jingħaqdu f’partit wieħed) għamlu sejħa biex l-abbozz ta’ ftehim mal-Amerikani jkun ippubblikat immedjatament. Dan hu meħtieġ biex ikun jista’ jsir skrutinju pubbliku: dan hu obbligu demokratiku bażiku.

Nazzarda ngħid li l-idea innifisha tal-ftehim hi oggezzjonabbli fil-prinċipju u dan billi tmur kontra l-prinċipji bażiċi fil-Kostituzzjoni Maltija:  mhux aċċettabbli li jkollna l-miltar ta’ pajjiż ieħor f’artna. Anke d-dettalji tal-ftehim huma inkwetanti: dawn jistgħu jinkludu l-presenza ta’ elementi tas-Sitt Flotta Amerikana bl-elementi nuklejari tagħha, li jkun opposti bil-qawwa mis-soċjetà ċivili.

Jekk Malta, kif inhu xieraq, tirrifjuta ftehim mal-Amerikani, jibqa’ l-pendenza tal-Moneyval  li tista’ twassal għal miżuri li jkollhom impatt negattiv fuq is-settur finanzjarju f’Malta. Robert Abela xorta jibqgħalu l-obbligu li jħoll l-egħeqiedi li rabtu bihom il-predeċessur tiegħu u ta’ madwaru u dan mingħajr għajnuna Amerikana.  

L-għajnuna Amerikana għandha prezz għoli li Malta m’għandhiex tħallas. Is-sovranità tagħna mhiex għall-bejgħ.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 4 t’Ottubru 2020

Our sovereignty is not for sale

Conflicting signals are flying around as to whether, if at all, there is any sign yet of Malta and the US being close to concluding an agreement on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

The presence in Malta of US Defence Secretary Mark Esper is indicative that discussions are ongoing and moreover that they are at a very critical stage. Officially no one knows much more than that, except, that is, for those having a finger in the pie!

As a result of a news blackout on the matter, it is natural that a lot of ongoing speculation as to what is actually being discussed is developing.

A SOFA agreement with Malta has been on the US wish-list for ages: requests being repeatedly declined by successive Maltese governments. Indications point towards a linkage between the US insistence for a SOFA agreement and the developing Moneyval test on complying with money laundering standards. Both the US and the Maltese government representatives flatly deny such a linkage. In the absence of detailed information from both sides, whether such a linkage exists or not will only be clear as matters develop over the coming weeks and months. The possibility of a quid pro quo would only be evident on a diplomatic level, as happens continuously in the games states play globally.

In international politics, states do not have friends, they only have interests: diplomacy seeks to achieve and service these interests. In pursuing a SOFA agreement, the US is seeking its interests. This is the nature of international politics.

It is known that Malta has requested US assistance in the forthcoming Moneyval test. The rumour mill is of the opinion that such assistance will be forthcoming at a price: a SOFA agreement with Malta which has been yearned for by the US for a long time. It seems that this is an opportunity which is not to be missed by the US.

A SOFA is an agreement that generally establishes the framework under which U.S. military personnel operate in a foreign country and spells out how domestic laws of the foreign jurisdiction apply toward U.S. personnel in that country. Exceptions and concessions are normally sought and negotiated.

This begs a basic question: is the Maltese government considering a US proposal to have US military personnel operating on Maltese territory or in Maltese territorial waters? I would not hesitate to state that few Maltese would agree with such a proposal. It is reasonable to state that over the years a consensus has developed on these islands that there is no room for foreign troops on Maltese soil or in Maltese waters.

Should we then conclude that the Maltese government is being blackmailed: a SOFA in return for Moneyval support? Unfortunately, it is difficult to arrive at an alternative conclusion.

Earlier this week Alternattiva Demokratika and the Democratic Party (which will be shortly merging into one party) called for the draft of any Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the USA to be made public immediately. This is necessary for public scrutiny. It is a basic democratic duty.

I would dare say that the very idea of a SOFA agreement is objectionable in principle as it goes flatly against the principles enshrined in Malta’s Constitution: no foreign troops on Maltese soil (or in Maltese waters). The possible details of a SOFA agreement are just as worrying: these could include the presence of elements of a nuclear powered Sixth Fleet which will be opposed tooth and nail by civil society.

Rejecting a SOFA agreement would potentially leave the Moneyval grey-listing possibilities unresolved. But then Robert Abela must seek to disentangle Malta from the suffocating problems created by his predecessor and his kitchen Cabinet without seeking US help!

US help comes at a hefty price which Malta should not pay. Our sovereignty is not for sale.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 4 October 2020

Aldo Cutajar: suċċessur ta’ Sai Mizzi f’Shanghai

Illum sar magħruf li Aldo Cutajar li kien Konslu Onorarju ta’ Malta f’Shanghai tressaq b’arrest il-Qorti, akkużat b’ħasil ta’ flus. Tressaq flimkien ma martu. Mhux prudenti li nikkummenta fuq dan sakemm jistemgħu l-provi.

Imma hemm affarijiet oħra gravi konnessi ma dan il-kaz u dan billi b’sentenza oħra tal-Qorti fl-2005 Aldo Cutajar kien soġġett għal interdizzjoni u tkeċċa mis-servizz pubbliku.

Min reġa’ daħħlu lura fis-servizz pubbliku bl-ingaġġ tiegħu fis-servizz diplomatiku bħala person of trust? Min japprova l-ingaġġ ta’ person of trust?

Ħu Aldo Cutajar, Mario Cutajar, li hu s-Segretarju Permanenti Ewlieni u l-Kap taċ-Ċivil diġa qal li hu ma jaf b’xejn: ma ġie ikkonsultat minn ħadd, qal! Dikjarazzjoni li mhux la kemm titwemmen, għax hu impossibli li f’xi ħin ma kienx jaf b’dak li hu għaddej.

Jidher, minn dak li ntqal s’issa, li Aldo Cutajar kien impjegat f’position of trust mal-Ministeru tal-Affarijiet Barranin.  Il-mistoqsijiet li jeħtieġ li jiġu mwieġba huma: meta daħal fil-korp diplomatiku? Min kien il-Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin li approva l-ħatra tiegħu: Carmelo Abela jew George Vella? Min ser jerfa’ r-responsabbiltà politika talli ġiet sfidata l-Qorti u ġie ngaġġat fil-korp diplomatiku persuna li ġiet interdetta?

Bla dubju Mario Cutajar għandu jerfa’ l-piz u jwarrab. Imma mhux waħdu. Għandu jkun akkumpanjat mill-Ministru għall-Affarijiet Barranin li approva l-ħatra ta’ Aldo Cutajar fis-servizz diplomatiku bi sfida ta’ dak li ddeċidiet il-Qorti.

Probabbilment li għal darba oħra kulħadd ifarfar.

Xi ħadd semma’ r-rule of law?

Owen’s latest gimmick

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici explained to the press the measures proposed by the government in order that Parliament will be in a position to examine its political appointees nominated to head various state agencies or institutions as well as those appointed to ambassadorships from outside the civil service.

Naturally, the first reaction to Owen Bonnici’s declaration is that government’s proposal is a positive small first step. However, when the detailed proposal was published, it was clear that this was another gimmick. It is proposed that a Parliamentary Standing Committee will be able to examine potential political appointees through written questions. On the basis of the answers received, and supplementary (written) questions, the Parliamentary Standing Committee will be expected to advise the government on the appointments under consideration.

This is a far cry from what is expected in a modern democracy.

Parliament, either directly or through a standing committee, should not be expected to simply advise. It should decide on the suitability or otherwise of the government nominees. This should be done after the nominees have been examined in a public hearing in the same manner as that of the US Senate Committees or the Parliamentary Committees of various other countries. This can only be done if Parliament reclaims the powers it has ceded to the government over the years.

Parliamentary scrutiny means much more than answering a set of written questions. Examining the nominees to ascertain their suitability for the post they have been nominated goes much further than the superficial examination of their professional competence. It also entails the examination of their past performance in order to ascertain whether they are capable of withstanding political pressure which seeks to sway their judgement in favour of political expediency and consequently influence their behaviour.

Such an exercise cannot be done through written questions but through a viva voce examination where it is not only what is said that matters. Interpreting body language and reactions to unexpected questions or statements is generally more relevant than deciphering boring, long-winded answers that go around in circles and generally avoid providing an answer at all.

During the general election campaign a few months ago, we were told that we needed “Labour-proof institutions”. In reality, government institutions and agencies should be at arms length from the government of the day in all day to day matters. This is done by ensuring that the running of government institutions and agencies is not the prerogative of political cronies but of suitably qualified appointees.

The government proposal is one that ensures that Parliament, through it’s Standing Committees, will not be in a position to carry out any meaningful scrutiny.  Parliament needs to have the authority to block the appointments which it considers to be unsuitable and in order to be able to act in this manner, the government’s proposal needs to be heavily revisited.

It is for this reason that – in the recent general election manifesto (and even in that of the previous general election) – we Greens proposed a much more effective policy: that parliament (or its committees) should have the authority to decide, and not merely advise on, public appointments and that this should be done through a public hearing without limitations.

These are the essential building blocks of a healthy democracy.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 1st October 2017

Il-ħatriet fil-pajjiż

coatofarms_malta

 

Il-PN qed jgħid li l-ħatriet importanti fil-pajjiż għandhom ikollhom l-approvazzjoni ta’ zewġ terzi tal-Parlament.

Issa din, meta tingħad, tinstema tajba. M’għandix dubju li l-iskop wara l-proposta hu wieħed tajjeb. Bħalissa kemm l-Ombudsman kif ukoll l-Awditur Ġenerali jinħatru b’dan il-mod u s’issa dejjem instabet soluzzjoni raġjonevoli għal dawn il-ħatriet. L-argument allura hu jekk dan il-metodu (taż-żewġ terzi) jagħmilx sens għal ħatriet oħra ukoll.

Issemmew żewġ karigi partikolari: dawk ta’ President tar-Repubblika u ta’ Kummissarju tal-Pulizija.

Ikun tajjeb, kif anke qalet diversi drabi Alternattiva Demokratika, li l-President tar-Repubblika ma jibqax jinħatar mill-Parlament waħdu. Minflok għandu jinħatar minn kulleġġ elettorali li jkun jinkludi ukoll (flimkien mal-Parlament)rappresentanza minn kull Kunsill Lokali.

Dwar il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija l-problema rejali hi li jkun evitat li l-ħatra tiegħu (jew għaliex le, tagħha) tkun tali li titneħħa l-konsiderazzjoni ta’ politika partiġjana bħala kriterju fl-għażla. Tul is-snin, kellna persuni ta’ eċċellenza li okkupaw il-kariga u kellna oħrajn ta’ inkompetenza grassa. Naħseb li l-għażla issir minn żewġ terzi tal-Parlament ma issolvi xejn. Proposta ta’ din ix-xorta tissogra paraliżi amministrattiva. Forsi jkun iktar għaqli li għal karigi ta’ importanza nazzjonali jkun meħtieġ l-approvazzjoni tal-Parlament, b’maġġoranza sempliċi. Imma approvazzjoni bħal din tkun teħtieg public hearing. Jiġifieri li l-persuna nominat tkun mgħarbla fil-pubbliku minn kumitat parlamentari.

Proposta ta’ din ix-xorta ma għandiex tapplika biss għall-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija imma għandha tapplika ukoll għall-ħatriet kollha ta’ ambaxxaturi u għat-tmexxija ta’ awtoritajiet u Dipartimenti tal-Gvern.

L-emfasi tiegħi mhux daqstant fuq il-ħtieġa tal-approvazzjoni mill-Parlament imma fuq li l-persuna proposta tkun mgħarbla fil-pubbliku. B’hekk tonqos il-possibilità tal-ħatra ta’ persuni inkompetenti kif ukoll ta’ persuni li l-unika kwalifika tagħhom tkun it-tessera tal-partit.

Naħseb li sistema bħal din, għalkemm bla dubju kontroversjali, hi iktar prattika mill-proposta tal-approvazzjoni mill-parlament b’maġġoranza ta’ żewġ terzi.

Il-ħatra ta’ Joseph Cuschieri bħala ambaxxatur għall-Greċja

Joseph Cuschieri

It-Times online tal-bieraħ ħabbret li hu imminenti li l-Gvern iħabbar il-ħatra tas-Sur Joseph Cuschieri bħala ambaxxatur ta’ Malta għall-Greċja.

Kull Gvern jagħmel ħatriet bħal dawn. Uħud minn dawn il-ħatriet ikunu ta’ benefiċċju għall-pajjiż. L-oħrajn ikunu ta’ benefiċċju biss għall-partit fil-Gvern.

Wasal iż-żmien li l-ambaxxaturi li jkunu ser jinħatru ikunu mgħarbla fil-pubbliku mill-Kumitat għall-Affarijiet Barranin tal-Parlament Malti. Bl-istess mod li jimxi s-Senat Amerikan qabel ma jiddeċiedi jekk jikkonfermax jew le l-ħatriet ta’ ambaxxaturi mill-President tal-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika.

 

Bejn RCC u Olaf Terribile

RCC

 

Tiftakru meta l-Partit Laburista fil-Parlament ressaq mozzjoni ta’ ċensura kontra Richard Cachia Caruana? Il-mozzjoni dakinnhar kienet ġiet approvata għax Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando kien ivvota mal-Opposizzjoni u Jesmond Mugliette kien astjena.

Dakinhar fuq dan il-blog jiena kont ktibt li r-raġunijiet li kienu inġiebu mill-Opposizzjoni Laburista biex jiġi ċċensurat RCC kienu imġebbda. Għax dak li ntqal dakinnhar, kieku kien minnu, ma kienx jiġġustifika ċ-ċensura ta’ RCC imma tal-Gvern!

Li għamel il-grupp Parlamentari Laburista tlett snin ilu kien li ħa posizzjoni illi l-ħatriet fil-korp diplomatiku kellhom ikunu mgħarbla mil-Parlament. Tista’ taqbel jew ma taqbilx mat-tiġbid tal-argumenti imma naħseb li kien pass il-quddiem li f’Ġunju 2012 il-Parlament Malti iddiskuta l-ħidma tal-Ambaxxatur Richard Cachia Caruana.

F’dawn il-ġranet huwa imminenti li l-Gvern iħabbar il-ħatra ta’ ambaxxatur ġdid ta’ Malta għar-Republika tal-Poplu taċ-Ċina. Xniegħat persistenti jindikaw li ser jinħatar Olaf Terribile bħala ambaxxatur. Probabbilment li din il-ħatra tiegħu tidħol fis-seħħ fl-istess jiem meta hu mistenni li jirriżenja t-Tabib George Vella minn Ministru għall-Affarijiet Barranin minħabba raġunijiet ta’ saħħa.

Olaf Terribile għandu passat ikkulurit ħafna fis-servizz pubbliku. Kien Segretarju Privat tal-ex-President George Abela li kien neħħieh għax tilef il-fiduċja fih.

Ikun interessanti kieku l-Kumitat Parlamentari dwar l-Affarijiet Barranin jitħajjar jgħarbel il-ħatra tal-Ambaxxatur il-ġdid Olaf Terribile. Hu xieraq li jkun assigurat li Terribile għandu l-kompetenza biex jirrappreżenta lill-pajjiż li ma jmurx jirreżenja wara ftit inkella jitneħħa kif qed jingħad li ser jiġri dalwaqt lill-ambaxxatriċi preżenti ta’ Malta f’Washington.

Ikun għaqli kieku l-Parlament jibda jgħarbel dawn il-ħatriet tal-ambaxxaturi Maltin. Forsi l-ħatriet li jsiru (kemm dawk politiċi kif ukoll dawk li m’humiex) jibdew ikunu ftit iktar bis-sens.

Il-ħtif fi Tripli

galea.muscat.farrugia

 

Qalulna li kien miżmum mit-twajbin.  Minn dawk li huma ħbieb ta’ Malta u allura riedu jipproteġuh.

Imma issa li qrajna l-intervista fuq l-Indpendent l-affarijiet jidhru mod ieħor.

Li l-gazzetti janaliżżaw u jikkritikaw dak li ġara, għaliex ġara u kif ġara nifhmu. Li ma nistax nifhem imma hu għaliex hemm min qiegħed jagħlef il-ħsieb li qiesu ma ġara xejn.

X‘inhu l-ħsieb wara din il-manuvra? M’għandi l-ebda idea.

Fl-intervista tiegħu fuq l-Independent Martin Galea, li jifhem u jitkellem sewwa l-Għarbi, qal li sema’ lil dawk li kienu qed iżommuh jitkellmu dwar kif ser joqluh. Tnejn minnhom, qal, għamlu żmien joqgħodu Malta, f’San Ġiljan.

Naħseb li hu l-mument addattat li nistaqsu: x’hemm iżjed li għadu mhux magħruf?

The Tripoli kidnapping. Full disclosure required.

Medavia. return

 

Now that Martin Galea is safe,  it is time for a full disclosure.

Dr Marisa Farrugia, Malta’s Consul in Tripoli was singled out and thanked by Martin Galea for saving his life. But the Prime Minister  Joseph Muscat who, followed by his hangers-on,  tried to take complete control of the spotlight when Martin Galea descended from the Medavia jet  did his best to ignore and sideline Dr Marisa Farrugia.

In such circumstances the person entrusted with such delicate negotiations which have led to the release, unharmed, of a Maltese national would be showered with praise. Farrugia, only two months ago faced what the sensational press labelled as an investigation into a massive visa scam.

Anyone involved, even minimally, in such a “massive visa scam” would not be recalled to take charge of such a delicate operation as negotiating the release of a Maltese hostage held in Tripoli, the site of the alleged scam itself.

Has government lost face over what has turned up to be a trumped up charge? Could this be the reason for Muscat and his entourage pushing aside Marisa Farrugia?

This is certainly not the way to deal with Malta’s diplomats.

An explanation is long overdue. Nothing but a full disclosure will suffice. The purge of the civil service commenced with the dismissal of practically all Permanent Secretaries in March 2013 should not be allowed to proceed any further.

L-Eċċellenza Tiegħu l-Ambaxxatur Lino Bianco

 

Lino Bianco. kandidat

M’għandi xejn kontra l-Perit Lino Bianco, dan l-aħħar ukoll Professur. Nirrispettaw lil xulxin.

Imma ma nistax ma nikkummentax dwar iċ-ċerimonja tal-bieraħ il-Ġimgħa li fiha l-President tar-Repubblika formalment tagħtu l-ħatra bħala Ambaxxatur ta’ Malta għar-Rumanija.

Iċ-ċerimonja ma kelliex issir f’nofs kampanja elettorali.

Lil Lino nafu bi ftit iżjed sens komun minn hekk. Jekk il-Gvern dan ma fehmux, messha ħadet l-inizzjattiva l-President tar-Repubblika billi ipposponiet iċ-ċerimonja għal wara l-24 ta’ Mejju.

Dan qed ngħidu mhux biss minħabba li Lino jista’ jiġi elett (avolja mhux probabbli) imma iktar minħabba li m’huwiex xieraq li persuna maħtura biex tirrappreżenta lir-Repubblika ta’ Malta bħala ambaxxatur tinvolvi ruħha f’attivita ta’ kontroversja politika. Safejn naf jiena m’hemmx kontroversja politika ikbar minn kampanja elettorali!

Dan dejjem jgħodd sakemm il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat m’hux qed jkkunsidra l-ex Ambaxxatur Richard Cachia Caruana (RCC) bħala mudell għall-imġieba xierqa tal-ambaxxaturi l-ġodda. Tul il-ħatra tiegħu bħala ambaxxatur RCC kien attiv ukoll fil-PN bħala membru tal-Kumitat Eżekuttiv tiegħu, apparti f’ħidma oħra ta’ politika partiġjana.