Luigi Di Maio’s threat

US President Donald Trump, over breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, unleashed a blistering criticism of Angela Merkel’s government for being too supportive of Russia’s natural gas pipeline, which provides natural gas to various European states. Germany is too dependent on Russian natural gas, said Donald Trump. Is it appropriate for Angela Merkel’s Germany to do away with energy sovereignty and security in this manner? Being too dependent on Putin’s Russia is not on, he suggested.

Malta also may have its energy sovereignty and security hanging by a string.

Only last month we were reminded by Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Luigi di Maio that Malta’s electricity interconnector supply is plugged in at Ragusa on the Sicilian mainland. The comment was made in the context of the savage debate that developed over the rescue operations involving drowning immigrants picked up from the Mediterranean Sea by NGO operated sea vessels.

The Cinque Stelle politician considered it appropriate to use the Ragusa plug-in for political leverage in the same manner that Vladimir Putin makes use of his Russian gas supply, in relation not just to Angela Merkel’s Germany, but to most of the European mainland.

The fact that Malta is at times too dependent on the Ragusa electricity supply makes matters worse. We have undoubtedly lost count over the last months regarding the number of times we have been subjected to an electricity black-out in Malta: the standard explanation being that there was some technical hitch on either side of the Sicilian Channel which was being taken care of.

Malta will shortly have another Sicilian plug-in, this time a gas pipeline most probably at Gela.

Like the electricity interconnector plugged in at Ragusa the gas-pipeline plugged in at Gela will be another commercial undertaking. Malta will be paying for its gas, just as much as it is paying for its electricity.

Luigi Di Maio’s thinly veiled threat was obviously that the existing electricity plug-in at Ragusa was there at the Italian government’s pleasure which could reverse any commitment entered into so far if the Maltese government persists in irritating it.

It is not known whether there was any follow-up to Di Maio’s declaration, accept that the Maltese government closed all ports to NGO-operated vessels and that criminal proceedings were initiated against the MV Lifeline captain on flimsy sea-vessel registration charges.

This is unfortunately in-line with the Di Maio/Salvini philosophy that good Samaritans have to be treated suspiciously.

At the time of writing, another sea vessel with 450 migrants on board is sailing through Malta’s search and rescue area towards Sicily with Matteo Salvini, Minister for the Interior, insisting that Italy’s ports are closed for such vessels.

What next?

Potentially, as a result of the closure of Maltese and Italian ports, this is another developing tragedy. Di Maio’s veiled threat, maybe, has been taken seriously by the Maltese government.

Such incidents send one clear message: the foundations of solidarity as a value have heavily eroded. It has been transformed into a slogan. Solidarity is one of the basic values of the European Union – it is not limited to the EU’s border states. Successive Maltese governments have tried to nudge other EU member states to shoulder this collective responsibility which is currently shouldered disproportionately by the border states. The response from nine members states when the MV Lifeline debacle came to the fore was encouraging, but it is certainly not enough.

Faced with racist and xenophobic overreactions, opting for solidarity is not an easy choice. It would be certainly helpful if more EU states put solidarity into practice. The problem is that not all of them are convinced that this is the only ethical way forward.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday – 15 July 2018

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L-għassies taċ-ċimiterju

Malta, bir-raġun kollu, akkużat lill-Italja li kisret id-dritt internazzjonali meta iddikjarat li l-port ta’ Lampedusa kien magħluq għall-vapuri tal-għaqdiet mhux governattivi li kienu fuq missjoni ta’ salvataġġ fiċ-ċentru tal-Mediterran. Wara li faqqgħet l-istorja ta’ MV Lifeline, Malta, imbagħad, għamlet l-istess billi għalqet il-portijiet kollha għal dawn l-għaqdiet. Matteo Salvini, il-bully ta’ ħdejna, pubblikament sforza lill-Gvern Malti biex jaddotta l-valuri tiegħu: valuri li jinjoraw id-dinjitá tal-bniedem.

Ġejna ibbumardjati mill-aħbarijiet li l-Kunsill Ewropew kien jaqbel mal-posizzjoni ta’ Malta dwar l-immigrazzjoni. Imma l-qbil tal-Kunsill kien li l-prattika tas-solidarjetá fil-qasam tal-immigrazzjoni kellha tkun fuq bażi volontarja. Ma hemm xejn ġdid f’dan. Ilna nafu b’din il-posizzjoni żmien: sa minn meta Lawrence Gonzi kien għadu jokkupa l-Berġa ta’ Kastilja!

Il-Prim Ministru ta’ Malta Joseph Muscat issa huwa qrib fil-ħsieb mal-Prim Ministru Ungeriż Viktor Orban, il-Kanċellier Awstrijakk Sebastian Kurst u l-Prim Ministru pupazz tal-Italja Giuseppe Conte, li magħhom dal-waqt tingħaqad il-Kanċellier Ġermaniża Angela Merkel, li kellha ċċedi għat-talbiet ta’ Horst Seehofer, mis-CSU, Ministru tal-Intern fil-koalizzjoni tagħha. Ilkoll kemm huma “jittolleraw” is-solidarjetá, sakemm din tkun prattikata minn ħaddieħor.

Nifhem il-ħtiega għat-tejatrin li ħass Muscat biex iċaqlaq lil diversi pajjiżi ħalli jipparteċipaw biex joffru it-tama lill-immigranti fuq MV Lifeline, avolja l-234 persuna umana abbord bagħtew tul l-istennija f’nofs il-Baħar Mediterran, sakemm disa’ stati ddeċidew li kellhom jerfgħu r-responsabbiltajiet tagħhom.

Imma dan kollu kien segwit mill-azzjoni kriminali kontra l-kaptan tal-vapur MV Lifeline, il-ħaruf tas-sagrifiċċju fuq l-artal tal-populiżmu, kif prattikat minn Joseph Muscat. Għax donnu kien meħtieġ għal Joseph Muscat li jinnewtralizza l-azzjoni tajba li għamel meta aċċetta li l-MV Lifeline jorbot mal-moll tal-Isla.

Dawk li jissugraw ħajjithom biex isalvaw dik ta’ oħrajn jispiċċaw jaqilgħu fuq rashom. L-ordni biex il-vapuri f’idejn l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi ma jbaħħrux fl-ibħra ta’ salvataġġ responsabbiltá ta’ Malta, anke jekk taparsi hi ordni temporanja, tagħti l-mano libera lill-gwardja tal-kosta Libjana biex “twettaq dmirha” u tassigura li dawk li jitilqu mil-Libja ikollhom għażla bejn żewġ destinazzjonijiet : iċ-ċentri ta’ detenzjoni Libjani inkella qiegħ il-baħar.

Biex jassigura li l-mewt bl-għarqa tkun l-unika għażla realistika il-Gvern Malti issa ipprojibixxa ukoll li ajruplani għat-tiftix u is-salvataġġ operati mill-għaqdiet mhux governattivi Sea Watch u Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative jitwaqqfu immedjatament. Dan wara li diġa wasslu biex ġew salvati madwar 20,000 persuna umana.

Il-mistoqsija inevitabbli hi: dan kollu għaliex?

Is-soċjoloġi Ungeriżi Vera Messing u Bence Ságvári fl-istudju tagħhom intitolat Looking behind the Culture of Fear. Cross-national analysis of attitudes towards migration. li kien ippubblikat bl-għajnuna tal-Fondazzjoni soċjaldemokratika Ġermaniza Friedrich Ebert Stiftung u l-European Social Survey, f’Marzu li għadda, jistħarreġ tweġiba għal din il-mistoqsija.

“L-attitudni kontra l-immigranti, ftit li xejn għandha x’taqsam mal-immigranti”, ikkonkludew Messing u Ságvári. “Dawk f’pajjiżi b’livell għoli ta’ fiduċja fl-istituzzjonijiet, ftit li xejn korruzzjoni, ekonomija stabbli u li taħdem tajjeb, livell għoli ta’ koeżjoni u inklużjoni soċjali (inkluż tal-immigranti) jibżgħu l-inqas mill-immigrazzjoni” jinnotaw l-awturi. Min-naħa l-oħra jibżgħu dawk li “qegħdin f’pajjiżi fejn in-nies ma tafdax, la lil xulxin u l-anqas l-istituzzjonijiet tal-istat u fejn il-koeżjoni soċjali u s-solidarjetá huma dgħajfa.”

Hi tabilħaqq sfortuna li l-familji politiċi ewlenin ġew kontaminati minn din il-kultura tal-biża’ u b’hekk irrendew ruħhom ostaġġi tal-bulijiet li hawn madwarna.

Il-posizzjoni ġejografika ta’ Malta ma tinbidilx: mhiex negozjabbli. Flok ma niġu mbeżża’ biex b’mod passiv nagħmluha tal-għassiesa taċ-ċimiterju li qed jiżviluppa madwarna nistgħu inkunu proattivi u nfittxu li ninkoraġixxu oħrajn biex jingħaqdu magħna biex inkunu l-port tat-tama fiċ-ċentru tal-Mediterran. Dik dejjem kienet il-missjoni tagħna tant li wieħed mill-isbaħ ċertifikati li għandu pajjiżna huwa dak iffirmat minn San Luqa fl-Atti tal-Appostli meta huwa u jiddeskrivi n-nawfraġju ta’ San Pawl jgħid li l-Maltin “ġiebu ruħhom magħna bi ħlewwa liema bħalha. Laqgħuna tajjeb lilna lkoll ……..”

Sfortunatament l-egħluq tal-portijiet tagħna għall-vapuri operati mill-għaqdiet mhux governattivi fuq missjoni ta’ salvataġġ (wara l-eċċezzjoni tal-MV Lifeline) tindika li Joseph Muscat, imniġġeż kif inhu minn Matteo Salvini, abbanduna kull tama u minflok għażel ir-rwol ta’ għassies taċ-ċimiterju.

ippubblikat fuq Illum il-Ħadd 8 ta’ Lulju 2018

 

 

The cemetery watchman

Malta rightly accused Italy of being in breach of international law when it closed the Lampedusa port to NGO vessels on rescue missions in the central Mediterranean. In the aftermath of the MV Lifeline debacle, Malta then proceeded to follow suit by closing all Maltese ports to NGO vessels. Matteo Salvini, the bully next door, has publicly pressured Malta’s government to submit to his values: those same values which ignore human dignity.

We have been bombarded with the news that the EU Council of Ministers has agreed to, and endorsed, Malta’s position on migration. This is not correct as the EU Council of Ministers only reiterated that, at most, they would consider solidarity as being only voluntary in nature. There is nothing new in such a statement. We have known about it for ages: since the days when Lawrence Gonzi was the tenant at Auberge de Castille!

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, is now almost on the same wavelength as Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurst, and Italy’s puppet Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, soon to be joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, forced into submission by her CSU coalition partner Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. All of them “tolerate” solidarity, as long as it is only practised by others.

The theatrics resorted to by Muscat to ensure an adequate participation in offering hope to the immigrants on board MV Lifeline were understandable, even though the 234 human beings on board suffered for long days in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea until nine states made up their mind to shoulder their responsibilities.

This was, however, followed by criminal action initiated against the captain of MV Lifeline as the sacrificial lamb on Joseph Muscat’s altar to populism. It seemed that Joseph Muscat had to counter-balance his good deed, when he permitted MV Lifeline to dock at the Senglea wharf.

Those who continuously risk their lives in trying to save the life of others end up at the wrong end of the stick. The order that NGO sea-going vessels do not navigate through the rescue area under Malta’s responsibility, even if falsely camouflaged as a temporary measure, gave a free hand to the Libyan coastguard to “carry out its duty”, that is to ensure that those who try to leave Libya have only two possible destinations: Libyan detention centres or the seabed.

To ensure that death by drowning is the only practical choice, the Maltese government has now also stopped the search and rescue aircraft operated by NGO Sea Watch and the Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative. The aircraft has been involved in the rescue of 20,000 human beings.

The inevitable question is : Why is it happening? Hungarian sociologists Vera Messing and Bence Ságvári in their study entitled Looking behind the Culture of Fear. Cross-national analysis of attitudes towards migration. which was published under the auspices of the German social democratic foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the European Social Survey, last March, sought an answer to this question.

“Anti-migrant attitudes have little to do with migrants”, concluded Messing and Ságvári. “People in countries… with a high level of general and institutional trust, low level of corruption, a stable, well-performing economy and high level of social cohesion and inclusion (including migrants) fear migration the least,” the authors note. On the other hand: “People are fearful in countries where people don’t trust each other or the state’s institutions, and where social cohesion and solidarity are weak.”

It is indeed unfortunate that the major political families have been contaminated by this culture of fear, thereby rendering themselves hostages to the bullies around us, as a result promoting a culture of death.

Malta’s geographic position is a given: it is non-negotiable. Instead of being bullied to passively supervise the cemetery developing around us, we can be proactive and encourage others to join us in being a port of hope in the centre of the Mediterranean. That has always been our mission, to the extent that one of the best descriptions of Maltese hospitality is the one attested to by St Luke in the Acts of the Apostles when describing St Paul’s shipwreck: “the natives showed us unusual kindness for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all”.

Unfortunately, closing our ports to NGO-operated vessels on rescue missions (after the one-off MV Lifeline debacle) indicates that Joseph Muscat, prodded by Matteo Salvini, has discarded hope and has instead opted for the role of a cemetery watchman.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 8 July 2018

X’solidarjetá hi din ?

 

Is-summit Ewropew, minkejja l-paroli kollu ta’ Donald Tusk, Joseph Muscat u Giuseppe Conte reġa’ ma kkonkluda xejn favur solidarjetá reali.

Il-Kunsill tal-Unjoni Ewropeja qal li l-gwardja tal-kosta Libjana għandha titħalla taħdem.

X’jippretendu dawn:  li l-NGOs isalvaw in-nies mill-għarqa u jgħadduhom lil-Libjani biex dawn jittorturawhom? Għax hekk qed jgħidu Tusk, Muscat, Conte u l-mexxejja Ewropej biex jissodisfaw l-injoranza w il-mibgħeda tar-razzisti li hawn jiġru mas-saqajn.

Kien hemm ksur ta’ regolamenti tat-tbaħħir? Ma nafx. Li naf hu li l-Gvernijiet qed jinħbew wara l-legaliżmi u r-regoli biex jiġġustifikaw li dawk salvati mill-għarqa jingħataw lura f’idejn il-Libjani fejn ikunu ttorturati. Dan jidher li hu l-punt ta’ konvergenza bejn Malta u l-Italja.

Il-Gvernijiet, issa, flok ma jisparaw (figurattivament) fuq l-immigranti qed jisparaw fuq l-NGOs.

Nippreferi li jinkisru r-regoli tat-tbaħħir milli jintbagħtu n-nies għat-tortura.

Ivan Bartolo: is-solidarjetá fl-aqwa tagħha

Fi żmien meta uħud mill-politiċi, u dawk ta’ madwarhom, ikunu fl-aħbarijiet dwar dak li qed jaħtfu jew japprofittaw ruħhom minnu, hu ta’ kuraġġ li tisma’ b’wieħed li qiegħed fl-aħbarijiet għal dak li qed jagħti. Qed nikteb dwar Ivan Bartolo, Membru Parlamentari tal-PN, li iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kien fl-aħbarijiet minħabba donazzjoni ta’ kilwa minn tiegħu lil persuna li ma jafx biex din il-persuna tkun tista’ tgħix ħajja aħjar.

Id-donazzjoni ta’ organi umani, għal min ikun qed jirċievi d-donazzjoni hi daqs li jkun twieled mill-ġdid. Hi l-isbaħ rigal li qatt jista’ jingħata. Jekk li tħalli l-organi tiegħek biex jintużaw wara mewtek hu ġest nobbli u ta’ min ifaħħru, kemm hu iktar minn hekk jekk id-donazzjoni tagħmilha inti stess bir-rieda esklussiva tiegħek waqt li għadek ħaj.

Il-ġest nobbli ta’ Ivan Bartolo hu opportunitá biex niffukaw fuq il-ħtieġa ta’ iktar donazzjonijiet ta’ organi umani. Kemm biex ikunu salvati ħajjiet, kif ukoll biex ikun possibli li titjieb il-ħajja ta’ bosta.

Tirrikjedi kuraġġ kbir biex f’ħajtek tagħti donazzjoni ta’ wieħed mill-organi tiegħek. Dan hu ġest li xi minn daqqiet isir minn ġenituri biex jgħinu lill-uliedhom morda inkella hu ġest li jsir bejn l-aħwa biex jgħinu lil xulxin f’sitwazzjoni ta’ ħajja jew mewt. Ivan mar lil hinn minn solidarjetá bejn membri tal-istess familja. Id-donazzjoni tal-kilwa tiegħu lil persuna li ma jafx hi l-milja tas-solidarjetá umana: Ivan Bartolo huwa s-Sammaritan it-tajjeb tal-21 seklu.

F’Malta, bħal f’bosta pajjiżi oħra, d-diskrepanza bejn id-domanda għall-organi umani meħtieġa għat-trapjant u d-disponibilitá ta’ dawn l-istess organi qegħda dejjem tiżdied. Biex tkun indirizzata din id-diskrepanza, fl-2016 il-Parlament approva liġi li tipprovdi l-qafas legali tant meħtieġ għal organizzazzjoni aħjar ta’ dawn id-donazzjonijiet ta’ organi kif ukoll biex tkun protetta din l-informazzjoni tant sensittiva. Din il-leġislazzjoni tipprovdi l-mekkaniżmi meħtieġa biex ix-xewqat ta’ dawk li jixtiequ jagħmlu donazzjoni ta’ organu jew organi tagħhom wara mewthom għal skop ta’ trapjant tkun implimentata billi tkun magħrufa mill-awtoritajiet tas-saħħa. Informazzjoni dwar kif tista’ tirreġistra tinkiseb minn fuq is-sit elettroniku tal-Ministeru tas-Saħħa (www.health.gov.mt).

Id-donazzjoni ta’ organu uman biex dan jintuża għal trapjant jista’ jsalva l-ħajja inkella jtejjeb sostanzjalment il-kwalitá tal-ħajja ta’ min jirċivieh.

Il-ġest nobbli ta’ Ivan Bartolo hu ta’ eżempju lil kulħadd dwar dak li hi s-solidarjetá umana. Grazzi Ivan.

Ippubblikat f’Illum : il-Ħadd 30 ta’ Lulju 2017

Ivan Bartolo : solidarity at its best

In a day and age when a number of politicians and their hangers-on make the headlines for reasons of greed, for making hay while the sun shines, its quite a change to have a politician in the news for making a donation rather than for receiving one!

I refer to Ivan Bartolo, PN Member of Parliament who, earlier this week, donated one of his kidneys to a person unknown to him, in order that this person may have a better life.

The donation of a human organ is a second gift of life to the recipient. It is one of the most powerful gifts possible. To donate your organs after your death is commendable; carrying out such a donation while you are still alive, and in your prime, is beyond commendable.

Ivan Bartolo’s noble act serves as a reminder to focus on the need for more organ donations in order to save the lives of some and improve the lives of others.

It takes considerable courage to donate one of your organs when you are still alive. It is something occasionally done by parents to help an ailing child, or by brothers and sisters to help each other in a situation of extreme need. Ivan went beyond familial ties of solidarity – he went one better : to donate of his kidneys to a stranger is an expression of human solidarity in its fullest possible sense. He is a 21st-century good Samaritan.

In Malta, as in most other countries, the gap between the supply and demand of human organs for transplant is widening.  Last year, in order to address this shortfall,  Parliament approved legislation to create a legal framework that facilitates human organ, tissue and cell donation in order to improve the donation process as well as to protect the resulting sensitive information. This legislation provides a framework for registering with the health  authorities the wishes of those wanting to donate an organ, tissue or cells after their death. Information on how to register is available on the Ministry for Health’s website http://www.health.gov.mt.

Donating an organ can save or prolong the life of the recipient or else it can substantially improve the recipient’s quality of life.

Thank You Ivan. You are an example to us all of what solidarity with each other really means and how much it can achieve.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 30 July 2017

L-attakki fuq Mario de Marco

L-attakki fuq Mario de Marco li qed jagħmlu uħud, flimkien mas-skiet ta dawk ta’ madwaru, kif  ukoll in-nuqqas ta Simon Busuttil li jlissen kelma ta appoġġ bħala turija ta solidarjetá pubblika juri (għal min kien għadu ma ndunax) l-istat li fih jinsab il-Partit Nazzjonalista illum.

Kif diġa kelli l-opportunitá li nikkummenta fuq dan il-blog, huwa tajjeb li min hu fil-ħajja pubblika jagħti tagħrif bażiku dwar l-istat ta’ saħħtu. Għax il-pubbliku għandu dritt li jkun jaf.

Imma hemm limitu għal kollox.

Meta tapprofitta ruħek mill-fatt li persuna tinsab mal-art biex tipprova twarrabha min-nofs bid-daqqiet ta’ sieq tkun qed turi x’valuri għandek.

Minn ċerti nies ma kontx nistenna aħjar, u ż-żmien sfortunatament qed jagħtina raġun.

Solidarjetá staġjonali?

solidarity

Is-solidarjetá, bla dubju, hi waħda mill-karatteristiċi ewlenin ta’ pajjiżna f’dan iż-żmien tas-sena. Dan hu tajjeb u ilu hekk għal żmien twil.

Din is-solidarjetá timmanifesta ruħha b’diversi modi, imma prinċipalment permezz tal-ġenerożitá, bosta drabi qawwija, favur kawżi ġusti. Matul dawn il-ġranet, isir ġbir sostanzjali għall-Community Chest Fund, għad-Dar tal-Providenza u anke għal diversi kawżi ġusti oħra. Hi solidarjetá staġjonali, solidarjetá għax-xahar tal-Milied.

Filwaqt li dan huwa kollu pożittiv, ikun tajjeb kieku naħsbu ftit kif nistgħu mmorru lil hin minn solidarjetá staġjonali, għal solidarjetá li tkun preżenti fl-istaġuni kollha. Għax filwaqt li hu tajjeb li fi żmien il-Milied nieqfu ftit u ndaħħlu jdejna fil-but biex inkunu ta’ għajnuna għal min għandu bżonnha, ikun floku iktar jekk nirrealizzaw li l-ħtieġa għall-għajnuna qegħda hemm fil-bqija tal-ġranet tas-sena ukoll. Għax is-sena fiha 364 jum ieħor, barra mill-Milied! U f’sena bħall-2016, ikun hemm ġurnata żejda ukoll.

Il-ħajja hi mgħaġġla. Fl-inħawi mibnijin b’mod intensiv f’dawn l-aħħar snin, naqas sewwa s-sens ta’ komunitá li kienet tinħass ferm iktar meta l-komunitajiet fl-ibliet u l-irħula tagħna kienu ħafna iżgħar milli huma illum. Fi blokki kbar ta’ flats, wieħed ħdejn l-ieħor, ħafna drabi qieshom gallinari tal-konkos, illum l-individwu jintilef fil-massa u mhux dejjem faċli li nindunaw b’dawk fostna li jkunu jeħtieġu l-għajnuna fil-mument li dawn ikunu jeħtiġuha. Ħafna drabi, lanqas ma huwa possibli li dawk li jmexxu s-servizzi li jipprovdi l-istat jindunaw mill-ewwel b’dawk li jkunu jeħtieġu l-għajnuna.

Il-Kunsilli Lokali jista’ jkollhom rwol importanti f’dan ir-rigward. Rwol li uħud minnhom, minkejja l-limitazzjoni ta’ riżorsi, diġa qed jippruvaw jiżviluppaw bil-mod. Mertu għal dan, huwa s-sens ta’ inizjattiva li għandhom uħud mill-kunsilliera lokali tagħna u l-imħabba tagħhom lejn lokalitajiet ħajjin li jagħtu kontribut siewi biex jissaħħu l-egħruq tal-komunitajiet tagħna . Għax il-politika soċjali, biex tkun mill-iktar effettiva, teħtieġ li tkun applikata l-iktar viċin possibli tal-egħruq tas-soċjetá. Hemmhekk, fejn il-biki jinstema’ mill-viċin u fejn l-uġiegħ jinħass sewwa.

Il-biki u l-krib ta’ min qiegħed ibati u l-uġiegħ tal-imġarrab ma jeżistux biss fil-ġranet tal-Milied. Jeżistu ukoll matul l-istaġuni l-oħra, meta l-parti l-kbira tagħna, inkunu għaddejjin bil-ħajja “normali”.

Anke f’dawk il-ġranet hemm ħtieġa tas-solidarjetá.   Għax l-ispirtu tal-Milied għandu japplika matul is-sena kollha.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum – Is-Sibt 24 ta’ Diċembru 2016

Deheb, inċens u birra

beer

Is-sinifikat tal-Milied inbidel drastikament tul is-snin. Minn festa reliġjuża assoċjata mal-paċi u s-solidarjetá, illum il-ġurnata, donnu li iktar assumiet tifsira ta xalar, divertiment u rigali. Mhux għal kulħadd.

Anke jekk il-paċi u s-solidarjetá mhumiex xi monopolju reliġjuż. Hemm mumenti fejn is-sinifikat tas-solidarjetá jidwi, imma sfortunatament jgħaddu l-festi u ftit jew wisq jintesa. Sa sena oħra.

Flok id-deheb, l-inċens u l-mirra li jingħad illi ġarrew is-slaten magi illum issir l-adorazzjoni tad-deheb, l-inċens u l-birra. Id-deheb simbolu tal-korruzzjoni, l-inċens simbolu tal-adorazzjoni tal-poter u l-birra li tissimbolizza x-xalar eċċessiv.

Is-solidarjetá żmiena s-sena kollha, mhux biss fil-ġranet tal-Milied.

Il-Milied it-tajjeb lil kulħadd.

 

 

 

 

The solidarity challenge

New Deal for Somalia

The boats and dinghies departing from the Libyan coast are a stiff challenge to the solidarity which Malta has traditionally  shown towards all those who required it.

The departures from the Libyan coast are controlled by criminal gangs who are cashing in on the suffering of men, women and children fleeing  from their countries for a multitude of reasons, seeking a better quality of life and fleeing persecution.

The boats and dinghies represent their future hopes. For some it has meant death. Battered by the rough seas some make it to their destination, the Italian mainland. Others end up on our shores.

The number of arrivals is on the rise. There is a limit to what this country can take. But the limit is a physical one as the duty to put solidarity in practice has no limits.

Malta always offered practical solidarity to those in distress as we have always felt that it is our duty to uphold the dignity of all human beings irrespective of their country of origin or race. Offering hospitality is not and should never be conditional on whether others help us in shouldering our responsibilities. We do it as a nation because it is the right thing to do.

There is so much more that Malta could do if we are assisted by our EU partners. So far there has been substantial assistance in monetary terms. This has been utilised to improve Malta’s rescue capabilities as well as in providing decent places where immigrants are housed. But this is certainly not enough.

There has been talk of looking towards the South.  Last Monday Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has also been involved in talks with the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta as the challenge we face is not just ours, it is a regional one.

The involvement of Libya is not without its problems. Libya, as also emphasisied by Prime Minister Letta on Monday, is not yet a signatory of the Geneva Convention  on the status of refugees. Human Rights, in addition, are not an area with which the Libyan state is familiar yet. Having secure Libyan borders just shifts the problem from the Mediterranean to Libyan soil.

The real solution lies much further south then Libya. It lies in the countries of origin of the boat people whom Malta and Italy have saved from the perils of the sea. Some are Somali, others are from Ethiopia, Eritreia or other countries.

65% of the 1890  boat people arriving in Malta in 2012 were Somali.

The European Union is in fact already acting in this direction. In collaboration with the government of Somalia the EU will shortly be convening an international conference to endorse a New Deal with Somalia that aims to develop a set of key priorities and support the reconstruction of Somalia over the next three years. It is the way that the international community makes good on its promises of support to the Somali people. The healing of the scars resulting from a long civil war takes considerable time.

Through the New Deal for Somalia the EU is assisting the reconstruction of Somalia, an essential prerequisite in creating the infrastructure which is necessary to ensure that all Somali citizens are protected and can partake of an adequate quality of life in their own country. Once the reconstruction of Somalia with EU assistance is in place there will be no further reason for large numbers of Somalis to flee their own country. Some will undoubtedly want to consider returning to take part in the transformation of Somalia, getting it ready to participate as an equal partner in the international family of nations.

Helping Somalia to help herself. This is EU solidarity at its best.

The EU has already helped in training Somali soldiers. It has also invested heavily in maritime security off the Somali coast contributing to a substantial reduction of piracy which has been of international concern for years.

The next steps will necessitate Somalia doing a deal with its global partners to clear its huge financial arrears and put in place international aid programmes to help establish the Somali government’s legitimacy.

The EU has been looking at long term solutions. Unfortunately it did not give sufficient attention to the short term problems which primarily Malta and Italy have been facing. The human suffering generated needs to be addressed immediately.

Malta and Italy should not be left on their own to manage  the impacts which have been generated by migration.  A common strategy to manage the extreme pressures caused by the seasonal increase in the arrival of asylum seekers in Southern Europe is essential  until such time that the long term measures which the EU has initiated in Somalia have the desired effect.

This is the solidarity challenge which the EU is facing. And the EU is not them. It is us as well.

Published in The Times of Malta, 20 July 2013