Tag Archives: Joseph Muscat

Pope defends rejected illegal migrants

Pope Francis urged European leaders on December 6 to stop arguing over the fate of 49 migrants stuck aboard two humanitarian rescue ships on the Mediterranean and to offer them a safe port to disembark. (Image: illustration).

With his comments at his address to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square at the end marking the feast of the Epiphany, Pontifex entered into a diplomatic raw between Italy and Malta.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has underlined that he is not going to transfer Malta into a hosting centre for illegal migrants who were saved by humanitarian vessels and rejected to disembark in the other ports.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini remined the Mayor of Naples, who is ready to accept NGO vessels with illegal migrants, that he has to respect the migrant decree. “Anyone who helps clandestine migrants hates Italians” he explains.

 

Malta demands Aquarius to clarify its status

Fifty-eight migrants aboard the #Aquarius NGO rescue vessel will be trasported to Malta and from there to France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, after a deal was reached to share the responsibility for the arrivals among EU member-states.

The migrants will “disembark in international waters”, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted from the UN General Assembly in New York.

However he urged Aquarius vessel to clarify its status. Since February 2016 the vessel operates as major transport for NGO SOS Mediterranée and Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without borders) to search and rescue illegal migrants from African coasts, mainly Libya, assisting their safe sea crossing to  reach European shores.

Panama authorities have begun procedures to revoke the registration of the Aquarius illegal  migrants rescue ship operating in the central Mediterranean. Charities say the Italian government is to blame for the move.

Lifeline vessel docks in Malta

A NGO vessel Lifeline with 233 illegal migrants from Libyan coasts on board stranded in the Mediterranean since Friday, June 22 will finally dock in Malta, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. The vessel was rejected by Italy, under policies of fighting illegal migration and human trafficking  conducted by Interior minister Matteo Salvini.

Conte said he had reached an agreement to allow the Lifeline to dock after telephone talks with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
In a statement, Conte said that Italy would host some of the migrants and called on other countries to “do the same.”
Italy, Malta, France and Portugal have already confirmed their participation, according to a spokesman for the Maltese government. The spokesman added that Spain and the Netherlands were evaluating the situation and that Germany could yet participate.

Malta under scrutiy

The Members of the European Parliament  are expected to agree on a strong statement raising concerns about money-laundering and tax practices in Malta, it will also raise questions on the independence of its police and judiciary, whose investigation of the assassination of a journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, an outspoken critic of the ruling political circles, is under scrutiny.

The Maltese MEPs from Socialist & Democrats group – Alfred SANT, Miriam DALLI, and Marlene MIZZI – gave a press-conference and distributed their amendments to the draft of the resolution.

MEPs consider the references to Panama Papers are “totally unrelated” to the Rule of Law, reminding that the prime minister Joseph Muscat had confirmed Maltese tax system competitiveness, and conformity with the rules of the European Union (EU) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

They also point at “selective manner” in which the Media Pluralism Monitor report is quoted shows, according to Maltese MEPs, the “systematic manner”, in which Malta is being “attacked”.

The MEPs offer clarifications on associated Daphne Caruana Galizia information source, who fled the country shortly after prime minister asked for an inquiry to be held against the allegations levelled against him and his family. Named as “Russian woman,” in MEPs notes, and as Maria Efimova, married to a Greek national, by Maltese bloggers, the person is framed as a whistleblower in the European Parliament report. As an employer of a private bank ‘Pilatus’, Ms Efimova claimed she saw the papers, confirming the ownership of an offshore company ‘Egrant’ by Michelle Muscat, the spouse of the prime minister.

The MEPs point out that the “Russian woman” faced two separate criminal proceedings, which started well before the allegations pertaining to Egrant  company name surfaced in media, Efimova was sued for fraud and misappropriation of funds.

The Maltese government has called in for help of foreign investigators, including Dutch forensic experts, the FBI and the Europol.

Concluding amending the draft, the MEPs suggested the position of the European Parliament is dominated by the European People’s Party “partisan agenda”: the developments on rule of law have been “positive”, Maltese representatives say, and strengthened last years by ruling party, in contrast to 25 years of stagnation under Partit Nazzjonalista leadership.

Image: the European Parliament president Antonio Tajani attributing name of Daphne Caruana Galizia to press centre auditorium in Strasbourg.

EU-UK expats future on cards

Mr Tusk, who represents the other EU 27 nations, said the EU would “analyse line by line” the UK’s proposals when they were published in full but his “first impression is that the UK’s offer is below our expectations and that it risks worsening the situation of citizens”.

And Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta – who currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU – warned of people being “treated differently” depending on date they arrived in the UK.

Supposedly the UK has put forward a different approach towards the EU expats, who settled in the country in different waves of the block’s enlargement. The biggest community of the  EU citizens in the UK is Polish, which has grown rapidly after the country was granted a EU member status in 2004. There are an estimated 831,000 Polish-born residents in 2015 – a jump of almost three-quarters of a million compared to the number in 2004 – the year the country joined the EU.