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Muscat ‘would take same decision’ in repeat Salamis incident

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterates decision to block access to tanker carrying migrants was legal, claims humanitarian obligations were fulfilled.

Miriam Dalli
8 August 2013, 10:00am
The M/T Salamis eventually sailed to Syracuse, Italy, where the migrants were allowed to disembark. According to the PM, no 'horse-trading' with Italy took place.
The M/T Salamis eventually sailed to Syracuse, Italy, where the migrants were allowed to disembark. According to the PM, no 'horse-trading' with Italy took place.
If a similar scenario to the M/T Salamis incident were to happen again Prime Minister Joseph Muscat would take the exact same decisions.

Speaking on ONE TV this evening, Muscat reiterated the tanker's captain had ignored his international obligations when he chose to sail towards Malta instead of turning back to Libya which had been the nearest safest port.

"Do you expect a sovereign state to pay for someone else's wrongdoing? We have in writing that the captain ignored specific orders. My position was clear from the beginning: Malta is not a doormat and immediately ordered for access [to Maltese waters] be blocked," Muscat told journalist Aleander Balzan.

According to the government, the Libyan port of Khoms could be treated as safe since the ship had just sailed from there. The Salamis incident saw the tanker rescuing 102 migrants but instead of turning to the port - like the Italian authorities had instructed - the tanker continued sailing towards Malta.

Carrying oil, the tanker's first destination had always been Malta.

Muscat insisted the captain's decision to come to Malta was "not based on humanitarian reasons but on commercial one".

The migrants remained on board the tanker for two days until on Tuesday night Italy accepted to take in the tanker and allow the migrants to disembark.

Muscat insisted that Malta fulfilled its humanitarian obligations when it provided the migrants with the food and water supply requested by the crew and allowing AFM medics to board the tanker and examine the migrants.

"All were found to be in good medical condition. There was only woman who injured her finger during the evacuation from the dinghy but was kept inside the tanker's clinic. We did satisfy our humanitarian obligation and saw that no lives were at risk... But we also have our national interest to defend," he added.

Local and international human rights NGOs criticised government's stance and had repeatedly called on government to allow the migrants to disembark. According to Muscat, allowing the tanker to enter Maltese territorial waters would have created "a precedent".

"Giving in to the tanker's demands would have created a precedent... not only for us as a government but also for Malta. It is a point of principle: when the migrants were rescued, Malta was not the safest nearest port. It's not about how many migrants the tanker was carrying but about a principle which the captain ignored. Allowing him access would have led to the collapse of the whole search and rescue system."

Muscat insisted that NGOs and the media "could criticise me all they want but my position is what it is... I will not allow Malta to be treated as a doormat".

Turning to the barrage of comments posted on European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom's Facebook page, Muscat disassociated himself from the comments adding that the offensive comments did little to help Malta.

"Why offend others when we have a solid case? Usually people offend others because they'd have no argument. But we do," he said, "expressing" worry that abusive comments posted may be used by "others" against Malta.

The Prime Minister said no one had disputed Malta's legality on this issue and said he "appreciated" Malmstrom was concerned. "She was doing her job. But she didn't offer a solution either," he said, adding that he felt "comforted" that Malta and Italy were on the same wavelength.

Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of ...
Mario Monti
Mhux ovja! Allahares le. Hekk ghandu jkun politiku ta' stoffa u rieda qawwija li jaghmel il-gid lil pajjizzu. Dak li hu sewwa u tajjeb ma ghandna nibzghu qatt insostnuh u nirrepettuh kemm hemm bzonn. U halluwhom il-puritani jiskruplaw bit-tibna ta' haddiehor, l-aqwa li t-travu f'ghajnejhom ma jarawhx, jahasra. Mhux hekk tghid, inhallu min jikser il-ligi u fil-process jaghmilna tapit tieghu. Fuq din il-kwistjoni min ma qabilx ma' Muscat hu tradittur ta' Malta zgur.
george d'amato
how can we believe him when he says that the maltese people are not racist. did anyone believe him when before the election he said that he was the underdog.
Christian Thorn
And done in the NATIONAL INTEREST with no hidden agenda , which cannot really be said for others with the NATIONALIST PARTY's interest at HEART! We know of at least 69 of these, not to mention certain NGO and the A.D.! With friends and "compatriots" like these ..... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As for Malmstrom it couldn't be that she also has the National interest at heart HER COUNTRY'S, and is taking the opportunity to get her own back???
brian farrugia
The company should have fired their captain for breaking international law, and replaced him.
Lawrence Galea
Seems that Malmstrom doesn't want to do what she preaches and is one of those big hot-air-filled heads who says do-as-I-tell-you-but-not-what-I-do. Well, she got her answer both from Dr Muscat and the Maltese people on her faceboook page.
Kalanc Qasamula
Well done Joseph.
Of course he will, if it's an exact replica. Italy signed an agreement way back in time, which we did not,so Italy was obliged to take them, we were not. It was no act of charity.
Of course he will, if it's an exact replica. Italy signed an agreement way back in time, which we did not,so Italy was obliged to take them, we were not. It was no act of charity.
There was no "decision " to be made in this case merely a reminder to those concerned of Maritime law in such circumstances and enforcing such -which is clear and unequivocal
Martin Vella
At last we have a Prime Minister "Con le Palle"
ray zammit
u il poplu kollu malti (barra is sahhara tal bidnija )warajk
Polly Bonello
When Ms Malmstrom persuades the EU countries to give freedom of movement to immigrants saved by Malta, Malta should start accepting all the bona fide immigrants saved by ships: but only then! Dublin 2-signed by Simon Busutill- is simply a cynical ploy wrapped up in politically correct language, to keep migrants away from European shores.
J Abela
And he will have the majority of Maltese behind him again.