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[WATCH] Schulz’s lesson on the proud establishment: ‘We stand for democracy and human rights’

EP’s socialist president pours cold water over ‘anti-establishment’ talk: ‘In the EU, we have established democracy, the rule of law… If that makes me part of the establishment, then I am proud to be part of it’

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
8 December 2016, 12:35pm
For Joseph Muscat, being anti-establishment means being pro-change; but for Martin Schulz, being part of the establishment is being part of democracy
For Joseph Muscat, being anti-establishment means being pro-change; but for Martin Schulz, being part of the establishment is being part of democracy
Schulz pours cold water over 'anti-establishment' talk
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and European Parliament president Martin Schulz offered opposing viewpoints on what constitutes the "establishment" during a joint press conference today.

Muscat, who has frequently claimed to be anti-establishment, told MaltaToday that the "establishment" is predominantly an attitude that resists change.

"I am anti-establishment because I challenge the status quo. For example, people who are part of the establishment would not have banned gay conversion therapy. I am not part of the establishment but am acting as an agent of change," he said.

However, Schulz - who is in Malta for bilateral talks ahead of the country's ascent to the EU's rotating presidency - warned that politicians tend to use anti-establishmentarianism as a cover for racism and hate speech against minorities.

"What is this establishment? It means something that has been established. In the EU, we have established democracy, the rule of law, dignity and protection of human rights, and the fight against hate speech, racism, and anti-Semitism. If that makes me part of the establishment, then I am proud to be part of it," Schulz said.

During the joint press conference, Schulz described the EU as a community of nations cooperating on equal footing, regardless of their size. 

"I’m optimistic for the Maltese Presidency. Expectations are high, but I am very satisfied with how they have prepared for it,” he said.

Schulz rubbished off questions that the Panama Papers revelations surrounding OPM chief of staff Keith Schambri and Minister Konrad Mizzi would impact Malta’s ability as chair to push through anti-money laundering legislation.

On his part, the Prime Minister said Malta would be welcoming the representatives of the EP's Panama Papers committee to the country, arguing that the government has “nothing to hide”. 

In his opening speech following private meetings between the two delegations, Muscat called on the EU "to stand up to be counted" in the wake of challenges on several fronts: “Europe should not retreat but stand up to be counted, not by banging its feet but by sticking to its principles.”