Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Updated | Muscat refuses to rule out pushbacks, ‘we must safeguard Maltese interests’

Pushback policy “not excluded” if Malta does not receive EU’s help.

Miriam Dalli
5 July 2013, 12:00am


Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has kept up a bullish stance on his position to demand concrete EU assistance on migration and asylum, warding off claims that the arrival of 290 migrants on Wednesday and Malta's overall asylum burden was "not alarming".

In responding to a comment by European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström that Malta's migrant arrivals had not reached an alarming rate, Muscat was quick to respond to the press that the Commissioner should offer to have her home country Sweden accept Malta's arrivals.



Muscat has insisted that Wednesday's arrivals had been dealt with in a humane way, although he sent a clear message that he would still consider pushbacks of irregular migrants.

"[Wednesday's] was a very particular situation. There were injured people aboard, children and pregnant women, and the boat was sinking. It is obvious that we could not let people drown," he said.

Muscat today again confirmed that the government did not exclude a pushback policy if it was "necessary to safeguard Maltese interests."

He was visiting the Malta Financial Services Authority where questions were taken up by his stance on migration and asylum.

"I know we will have criticism from NGOs, I know we will probably be criticised by other countries, and I understand this," Muscat said, adding that Malta would not stay quiet and bear the brunt of the problem without demanding EU aid.

"We will not stay quiet. There is a problem and if nobody else is willing to accept it and help us, then we have to handle it in another way," he said.

Muscat insisted that the EU had side-lined Malta on migration and that he was "not impressed" with how things had been tackled so far.

He said the EU's immigration pact hammered out four years ago had had no impact, he said, insisting the situation was now becoming "intolerable".

Muscat said that the EU had found ways, in hard times, to help different countries who were going through economic problems.

"Malta gave millions of euros in aid to other countries, and that was a mark of solidarity among member states," he said. "But now we are facing a crisis. It is not a Maltese crisis, but a Mediterranean crisis. It is a European crisis. We cannot be left to fend for ourselves without any help," he said.

He insisted this was not just idle talk, but that the EU needed to see that Malta has a limited capacity.

"We cannot be expected to do more than we can do."

He also pointed out that the unrest in Syria and the Middle East might have a spill-over effect and could also change migration flows, and that it would be "short-sighted" not to take this into consideration, adding that Libya also needed help to deal with the "wave of immigration" coming through its southern borders.

AD reaction

Green party Alternattiva Demokratika reacted strongly to Muscat's comments today: "Muscat's macho attitude is good for certain banana republics but not for civilised countries. If the Prime Minister had the proverbial attributes he should have shown his great 'courage' in the past by telling Gaddafi in his face that he was a brutal dictator, rather than remaining silent, meek and subservient.

"While it is good to show that Malta should be treated with respect, Prime Minister Muscat should realise that threatening to send back iregular migrants to Libya is a no go area," AD chairperson Arnold Cassola said.

"The pushback policy not only goes against basic human rights but also Libya - not having signed and ratified the Geneva Convention on Refugees - is not a safe country where people can be sent back to. Malta should insist with the EU on the concepts of responsibility sharing, solidarity in practice and the revision of the Dublin Convention."

AD spokesperson for social policy Robert Callus accused Muscat of being alarmist, and of fanning "the flames that may unleash dangerous extremism".

"When mainstream politicians in other countries talked in manners quite similar to the far right, such extremism grew. A case in point is Greece where immigrants, gays, left leaning politicians and critical journalists can no longer walk the streets safely following the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

"Besides, while the motto of being strong with the politicians but not with the immigrants is good in principle, Muscat contradicts himself when he states he does not exclude push back to Libya. Needless to say, it will be the immigrants who drown, get maltreated in a Libyan jail or left to perish in the desert, not politicians."
Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of ...
Lawrence Galea
Antoine Vella they would be doing Malta and us a bigger favour by taking you and other do gooders with other peoples money. How about taking some of them to your home and keeping them at your own expense?
Lawrence Galea
Gozoroo Thdey pick them up and take them thousands of miles away on an island. We can try to built a high wall around Filfla so that they cannot escapt and put them there.
Lawrence Galea
not amused the tragedies are caused by teh illegal immigrants themselves who embark on dangerous journeys. Apart from this, they are dropped from ships off Malta because no one is goibng to make me believe that they sail all the way from Libya with an outboard motoer and an extremely overladen dinghy. It is also the fault of their traffickers and of those who encourage them to stay in Malta and provide them with instructions how to stay in Malta, namely the JRS acting as the mother comapny of its other organizations run by the same people wearing different hats according to the organization that they represent at any particular moment in time. I aways wonder whether those who have a bleeding heart for the illegal immigrants have something to gain or are gaining from the massive continuous illegal immigrants invasion against Malta and the Maltese peoples interests.
not amused
I am pleased that my comments provoked such a reaction. Of course our PM will not even dream of transporting irregular migrants to a European Port because the political fallout will be tremendous. And yet his threats to go against UN human rights resolutions, Mr Muscat is harvesting a lot of local support in total disregard of the tragedies unfolding in our seas. If my comments provoked contraversy, it is hardly comparable with our PM‘s ploy to use human life as leverage in a political poker in order to deviate the electorate's attention from the teething problems of his infant legislature.
Kalanc Qasamula
Dan Kazzo-la x'jahseb li hu? Dan jipprotesta ghax xi Malti ikkapparraw xi bicca art l-armier, u ghamel sew. Umbaghad jigu dawn il klandestini kolla li tghidx kemm ikattru li biz-zmien jekk ma niehdux passi sodi mill-bidu ikollhom il-maggoranza f'pajjizna u jkollna nbaxxu rasna ghal dawn il-musulmani li ma jaghfux x'hini tolleranza. PUNT iehor importanti hu li dawn qed jigu Malta ghaliex dawk li jittraffikaw fl-emigrazzjoni illegali jixhtuhom wara biebna. Jekk nuruhom li se nibghatuhom lura ifittxu rotta ohra. Wara kollox biex jaqsmu ghal Grecja m'hemmx periklu ta bahar, jekk mit-Tunezija iridu jmorru l-Italja it-triq hi iqsar u jekk mill-Marokk imorru Spanja ftit kilometri kull mhemm. Dawn il-figuri jitkellmu wehidhom. Arawhom ghax tal-wahx. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU
Sam Borg
Mr. Muscat What makes you think that the push back policy will work for you! It did not work for Australia. It was tried a few years back. People started burning their boats, jumping and throwing children in the water sabotaging their motors and all sorts of other tricks until the Navy had no choice other then picking them up!!! Gozoroo
malti
Before joining the EU we used to be promised that we shall have a say at EU affairs. This is the time to show it, because simple Simon had the opportunity, but he has a simple mind, he has a traditional, conservative, YES SIR, mind.
Mikiel Il-Gurdien
Xi hadd irrid jibghat messagg li MALTA mhux tapit ~ u l-Prim Ministru MALTI Dr' Joseph Muscat dak li qieghed jghamel u qieghed jigbed poplu warajh! Hemm il-futur taghna u ta' uliedna u fuq kollox ta' MALTA fin-nofs li ghandha tibqa tal-Maltin! Sewwa qieghed jghamel il-Prim Ministru u min immure kontrih ma ghandhux l'interess tal-pajjiz imam AGENDA PARTIGGANA!
A Licari
It's definitely time for a referendum on immigration. It's a democratic process. After all, it could be that most of the Maltese want an immigration of 300 boat people daily. Yes, a referendum would show what the majority of Maltese want. Maybe they agree with Trikkas, Simon and Kassola.
Joseph Angileri
Kulhadd jghid li ma tistax thallijom jgherqu, veru u verissimu biss jibqa l-fatt li dawn il-klandestini jew turisti irregolari qed jidhlu bis-shih fix-xhur tas-sajf meta l-bahar ikun inqas qawwi jew bnazzi ghaldaqstant dawn dejjem qed jissugraw li jaqsmu mil-Libja lejn Malta u hadd ma jaf ghaliex dejjem jintuzaw bcejjec tal-bahar zghar. Il-poplu iddejjaq jisma skuzi u stejjer ta salvatagg ta' dawn biss dejjem jibqa l-fatt li dawn qed jizdiedu u l-pajjiz ma jiflahx izjed kulhadd nesa l-eluf li dig gew salvati u dawn l-eluf ohra li ma jinqabdux ghax ma jkollomx bzonn ta ghajnuna. U ma tistax tinftihem kif hafna minn dawn jaslu u jkunu nodfa u bil-lehja mqaxxra u ftit ikollom bzon ghajnuna medik. Mela bottom line hu li dawn qed jisservew bit-tjubija tal-poplu Malti li issa iddejjaq jisma skuzi minn kullimkien u veru u verissimu li l-poplu Maltu mhux cuc u jifhem ben sew x'inhu jigri nu ghaklhekk naqbel mal-prim ministru li iridu jittiehdu mizuri drastici biex il-messagg jasal u dawn ma jibqawx jazzardaw li jersqu loejn Malta hemm bzonn li jsir bhal ma ghamlu l-Awstraljani.
Juan Azzopardi
What then would be a good solution pls.? Any suggestions that would not be termed 'macho ' but which send the right message across the board?
Joseph Spiteri
Finally, we can be proud to have a PM who truly is out to safeguard the interest of this country.Cecilia Malmstrom never showed any interest whatsoever in helping Malta with this problem; her own country is just beginning to grasp with the problem of immigration and the now popular multi-culuturalism. We definitely are against our country ending in a similar situation, and I fully support our PM in the way he is dealing with the problem.
Joseph Grech-Attard
The EU very easily reacts to small countries like us when it comes to financial troubles and issues decrees that could damage our economy. However it sluggishly reacts to the problems of the illegal migrants. The Mediterranean is the basin of civilisation and there is no solidarity in Europe unless the Mediterranean is given its just importance. The EU works by the law of the jungle - survival of the fittest, and might is right!! Our PM needs big support for this. The EU cannot act like the big bully. We need help in this. And the EU is morally and ethically obliged to give us the help necessary, whether the northern countries like it or not!!
Emma Scerri
The Right-wing fascist in power in the EU are playing a word game by labelling anyone who is patriotic or nationalist with the Fascist/Nazi tag, when in truth, it is they the Globalists who are the true Nazi heirs. From their economic policies to their attack on women’s rights, de-regulation of business, the dismantling of trade unions and workers’ rights and support for Islamists, shows that they are the real fascists. Just because they left the jackboots behind, donned Armani suits and talk about democracy human rights (in theory not in practice) we are all being fooled. Not me. They are the same skull and bones men as the SS with the sole exception that they have dropped the Nationalism and adopted Globalisation since it is good for business and will be even better when one world government is ushered in (piecemeal at first). It is surprised that no one seems to through this subterfuge. It is sad to see the genuine liberals/left support their agendas without realising the full implications of what it is they are supporting.
Emma Scerri
Even with EU help, Malta couldn't possibly accommodate all of Africa. JM should insist with the EU to stop this trade once and for all. But as you all know, immigrants fatten the pockets of the elite, why even Jeb Bush, brother and son of two former US Presidents (Right-wing Republican) conceded that much a few weeks ago when he stated that immigrants are very fecund and therefore good for business. And that in a nutshell is the REAL and main reason for illegal immigration and why it is being encourage by the top elite. As to whether human beings are tools or not, some people ought to remember the over one thousand perished in a garment factory just a several weeks ago to enrich corporate interests - they are all but forgotten now. And that is the way it has always been. People are encouraged, either by religion, culture and now MTV and the celebrity tabloids, to reproduce willy-nilly, to the eternal gain of the wealthy and the equally eternal servitude, slavery and exploitation of the poor huddled masses.
Dora Buttigieg
Arnold Cassola was a Member of the European Parliament with a strong voice as he had the backing of Italian MEPs when Malta was facing waves of illegal immigrants. What did our guy Cassola do? Simply nothing! Where was his 'courage' if I may ask? It is a clear case of being easy to criticize but totally different when you are cushy enjoying your MEP salary. And by the way Joseph Muscat has been Prime Minister for less than four months. Did Cassola ever ask Gonzi why he did not tell "Gaddafi in his face that he was a brutal dictator, rather than remaining silent, meek and subservient" especially when Gonzi last year returned from Libya after watching a football match with Gaddafi in his tent? Surely not! And why is it that Cassola never raised this tone with the former Prime Minister who's party was in government for 26 years and was not able to solve this problem? If Cassola likes the status quo in favour of illegal immigrants, EU countries, or for whatever reason he came barking out for, that is his problem. But the majority of the Maltese and now this current government agree that there should be greater understanding from our friends in the EU. What is so wrong with that? Can our 'friends' in Europe up their assistance at least in line with that of the USA who has not ceased to assist Malta in this regard?
Dora Buttigieg
Arnold Cassola was a Member of the European Parliament with a strong voice as he had the backing of Italian MEPs when Malta was facing waves of illegal immigrants. What did our guy Cassola do? Simply nothing! Where was his 'courage' if I may ask? It is a clear case of being easy to criticize but totally different when you are cushy enjoying your MEP salary. And by the way Joseph Muscat has been Prime Minister for less than four months. Did Cassola ever ask Gonzi why he did not tell "Gaddafi in his face that he was a brutal dictator, rather than remaining silent, meek and subservient" especially when Gonzi last year returned from Libya after watching a football match with Gaddafi in his tent? Surely not! And why is it that Cassola never raised this tone with the former Prime Minister who's party was in government for 26 years and was not able to solve this problem? If Cassola likes the status quo in favour of illegal immigrants, EU countries, or for whatever reason he came barking out for, that is his problem. But the majority of the Maltese and now this current government agree that there should be greater understanding from our friends in the EU. What is so wrong with that? Can our 'friends' in Europe up their assistance at least in line with that of the USA who has not ceased to assist Malta in this regard?
Pancrazio Grech
I don't if your reader remember when the Italian navy fired on a boat full of Albanians. So I believe that in that disgusting moment the Italians were tough so why shouldn't we be tough enough to safeguard our interest with diplomatic tactics?
Joseph Lawrence Sammut Clleja
@Not amused, now that is one hell of an idea that you came up with." If our PM wants to play 'tough guy' why not transport some of these illegal immigrants to safe port on the European Mainland". Many of us, know it all, have been suggesting that same proposition to the previous government for the last eight years or so. Yes this same proposition was offered to the Past Administration, led by PM Lawrence Gonzi but he did not fall for it either. I wonder why?
Frank Testa
No body is negotiating with human beings. Don't be melodramatic. Your Party safeguarded the Maltese interests by wasting millions upon millions for friends and family. What Muscat wants is help to help the illegal immigrants. If this needs flexing muscles so What? What do you want thousands coming over and the EU patting us on the back because we are the usual cockholds. Not this government. Not amused is against some tough words and stands. At the same times he wants us to take these immigrants to the Euro mainland. They will be welcomed with flowers no know. Look you had years to solve the problem all the PN did was yap and lick. Now it is Labour's turn so sick back yap yap to your heart's content and let us get with the job. Just keep in mind that for the upteened time the PN chose foriegn interests over Maltese. Shame!
Mikiel Il-Gurdien
Xi had irrid jibghat messagg li MALTA mhux tapit! Hemm il-futur taghna u ta' uliedna u fuq kollox ta' MALTA fin-nofs li ghandha tibqa tal-Maltin! Sewwa qieghed jghamel il-Prim Ministru u min immure kontrih ma ghandhux l'interess tal-pajjiz imam AGENDA PARTIGGANA!
Antoine Vella
If Sweden really wanted to help Malta they would take Joseph Muscat off our hands and leave the immigrants here.
monica bundle
I fully agree with JM on this. The current situation of our country being filled with illegal immigrants is definitely very worrying. A serious burden and strain is being placed on Malta and this cannot go on indefinitely. Our country is very small and already overcrowded and has one of the highest population densities in europe. I think that JM has taken action in the right direction!
Lawrence Galea
Found on other media but it is important Support our Government against the EU stance on illegal immigration. This is a national issue which does not consider whether you are a PL, PN, AD supporter or does not support any political party. Go sign this petition and encourage your friends to do the same. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/314/182/985/
Lawrence Galea
not amused - we are Not amused by you comments.
Mario Costa
The PN preachers have nothing to teach PM Joseph Muscat in this matter. Their EU approach produced nothing except empty promises which resulted in EU countries taking only a handful of African immigrants. The PM shows he has spine and the majority of Maltese would be behind him four-square if he keeps his word not to give in and to use all means to lessen this deluge of immigrants. As to the NGO's, most of them represent no one but the few vociferous members that make them up. They are nonentities unworthy of being taken into consideration. The time for appeasing them and the EU is over by a long shot and new tactics are called for if we expect any meaningful results.
maltesecross
@ not amused - “why not transport some of these illegal immigrants to safe port on the European Mainland” it seems you forgot your geography and the number of safe ports close to us are all Italians. You also forgot that Italy tried to lump on us all illegal immigrants picked up in our FIR area which extends from south of Greece to further away than Pantelleria and Lampedusa. You forgot that the PN government sign an agreement to take back illegal immigrants that land in Italy leaving Malta.
Alex Grech
Ower international obligations are to help these illegal immigrants, supply them with food and water and let them go were ever they want in Europe.Dear Simon,could you please for once support the Maltese.
not amused
Using human beings as a negotiating tool is absolutely degrading for whole nation's image and a blow for humanity. Safeguarding Maltese interests indeed ? If our PM wants to play 'tough guy' why not transport some of these illegal immigrants to safe port on the European Mainland. Now that would be a understatement and shows that he is prepared to take the EU to task and still fulfill our humanitarian obligations
Deals