Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo presented the memorandum of understanding signed between Malta and Libya last week in Parliament today, in response to a request by the PN’s foreign affairs spokesman Carm Mifsud Bonnici.
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia had asked for a ministerial statement on the Libya visit on Monday and Tuesday to no avail, and during question time today, a number of PN MPs seized the opportunity to seek explanations from Bartolo.
Beppe Fenech Adami asked the first question, with Bartolo explaining that Malta’s present diplomatic efforts concerning Libya did not solely deal with immigration, but also with helping secure humanitarian aid for Libya. He noted that as Libya’s closest neighbour, Malta was particularly impacted by the conflict as immigrants sought to reach Europe through it.
The two governments, he said, spoke on how the number of migrants boats leaving Libya could be kept in check, adding that the decision to open centres in Malta and Libya was meant to coordinate efforts between the two countries.
Media not invited ‘due to safety concerns’
In reply to a question by David Thake, Bartolo said that no media was invited to accompany the government delegation in Libya due to safety concerns. He noted that Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport is a regular target as the country’s civil war drags on, and that the government needed to wait until the very last minute to receive clearance.
The minister lamented that Europe failed to provide adequate assistance, to Libya as well as to Malta. On migration, he said, “everyone agrees with us, but their sympathy is not enough.”
But he added that his greatest concern was that the EU was rendering itself irrelevant when it came to Libya, though he did highlight that the von der Leyen Commission appeared to pay more attention to Africa than its predecessor.