Watch: Abela and Grech clash on migration issue during first meeting

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The first meeting between newly-elect PN Leader Bernard Grech and Prime Minister Robert Abela did not go according to plan as the two leaders clashed with regards to the topic of migration.

Abela accused Grech of sabotaging his work by sending a false message to the EU that Malta “is not full-up”. This comes after the PM’s continuous persistence for Malta to prevent any more migrant disembarkations since it is “full-up”.

The PM also insisted that conferences are not a solution, and rhetorically questioned what he should tell the residents of Ħamrun and Marsa in the meantime. He insisted that Malta’s stance is firm, that of preventing Libyans from leaving their ports through the Libyan Coast Guard. 

Abela continued to speak about the importance of an automatic process of relocation to the EU as Malta “cannot continue to take in hundreds of migrants”.

“Abela failed to understand the topics” – Grech

In his response after the conference, Grech said that Abela failed to understand what was being said from their part. Grech remarked how in response to the proposal of a national conference on migration, the PM instead opted to rant about his role and principles. 

Grech stated that, unlike what Abela understood, the proposal for a  national conference would discuss all types of migration and population, not just that of which is irregular.

Earlier today:
Grech sworn in as MP

“Continuity still reigns” – Abela about PN

On his behalf, Abela commented that even as things change in PN, continuity still reigns. This was said with reference to Grech’s “focus on the topics of corruption and migration, so much so that the new PN leader felt the need to discuss these in their first meeting.” 

Abela insisted that good governance is an important pediment to build on, but it is not alone. The PM added that rule of law is the pediment for things which hold equal, if not larger, importance. He appealed for the PN to forget political differences and understand the current situation.

Responding to journalists, Abela said that he does not find the discussed topics to be of primary importance, especially since things such as public inquiries should be left in the hands of the proper institutions. He described the Opposition as being destructive.

The Prime Minister reiterated his stance that Malta is full-up for both regular and irregular migrants. When asked about migrants paying taxes and VAT each time they make a purchase, Abela commented that even the PN leader does not pay VAT at the moment. When pressed on the issue of migrants having value, Abela dismissed the point, stating that the argument should not be lowered to this standard. He later stated that the value of a person does not differ, being a local, a regular or irregular migrant.

With regards to today’s conference, Abela insisted that he entered with a positive agenda, consisting mostly of how to support businesses through the pandemic. He added that he was never a close friend of Grech, and they only met a handful of times. However, he stated that he was not closer to Adrian Delia, but actually, he “does not care whether it was Delia or Grech”.