[WATCH] Muscat calls out PN: ‘Useless bragging about joining EU when sowing division’

Fifteen years after EU membership, Muscat said the country was living up to European ideals and proving it could succeed 

Muscat said the PN couldn't brag about leading Malta to EU membership while also stoking a xenophobia and a fear of foreigners. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Muscat said the PN couldn't brag about leading Malta to EU membership while also stoking a xenophobia and a fear of foreigners. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

It is useless for the Nationalist Party to brag about being the party to lead Malta towards EU membership if it is today going to use divisive rhetoric that resembles the far-right’s, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Wednesday.

Muscat was addressing Labour Party supporters at its yearly Workers’ Day mass meeting, where he insisted that the European Union was not about bureaucracy, but about dialogue and respect for one another.

“It’s useless to praise those who came before you for their work towards Malta joining the EU, if today you sacare  people about the very advantages of the EU, if you try to use foreigners to scare people and if you are going to sow hatred against those who aren’t Maltese,” Muscat said.  

He said that 15 years after joining the EU, the country was showing that it was able to be successful in Europe, something it would continue to do in the years to come.

Thousands of Labour Party supporters have descended on Castille square for the party's annual Workers' Day mass meeting. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Thousands of Labour Party supporters have descended on Castille square for the party's annual Workers' Day mass meeting. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Rather than filling the country with foreigners, as had been suggested by the PN, Muscat said that in actual fact the government had filled the country with work and opportunities.

The PN’s messaging, he said, was too similar to that of the far right, but he insisted that this was not Malta. “Our heart is in the right place, Malta’s heart is in the right place.”

“It’s useless waving the European flag if instead of tolerance you contribute to increased prejudice. Malta is today a part of the European family more than ever before,” he said.

Muscat added that for a country to be successful in Europe, it needed to believe in itself and its people, something the PN evidently did not.

Ultimately, Muscat said, the upcoming elections would present the nation with a choice between job creation and division, hope and fear, inclusion or isolation.

Above all, he said the choice would be between Joseph Muscat and Darian Delia.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

He said that Malta had the credentials to find solutions, even on a European level, that could improve people’s lives, as it had done on migration where it was able to balance the need to save lives with a firm belief that responsibility needed to be shared between member states.

The Prime Minister ran highlighted the country’s achievements, from increasing pensions and the minimum wage, to the introduction of civil liberties that ensured all in society had equal opportunities.

He said the Labour Party had taken a country that regularly registered a deficit to one that was today registering a surplus, which it was investing in improving the country.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

“We inherited a country that had fallen behind on civil liberties and made it a country that others follow,” he said. “We took a country in which poverty was increasing, with a government was denying it was the case, and turned it into one in which poverty has been halved.”

Despite this, he said the government was focused on those who had fallen behind, pledging to do all in his power to see them rise out of their current situation.

Government, he said, would not shy away from implementing more change, appealing to those present to place their faith in the “most reformist government in the country’s history”.

One example of this, he said, was the proposed reform that will be seeking to increase female representation in parliament. “What the country did not manage to do in 70 years we will do in one legislature,” he said, emphasising his belief that the country’s highest institution should reflect the composition of society.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

“Your daughter or your niece will have the same opportunities as their male friends.”

 He said that at the end of the day, while people knew what to expect from the Labour Party, the same could not be said about the Opposition.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

“Others will tell you that our men and women are the worst in Europe…we will keep working to be the best in Europe”

He insisted that his government would not make the mistake of detaching itself from the aspirations of a changing society. “While others expected to be thanked for the little they did, this government believes that every it has done, it was obliged to do.”

Muscat again spoke of plans to create the country’s largest open space for people to enjoy, insisting that while the land could have been used for development, the government wanted to ensure there were spaces for people to be able to enjoy time with their family.

‘Congratulations for turning around a country that was struggling’

European Commission vice president, speaking ahead of Muscat, insisted that the Labour Party had turned around the country and changed it from one that was struggling to one that was "one of the pearls in the crown of the European Union today".

“Congratulations for transforming the country and brining more social justice to Malta,” he said, adding that the country had reason to be very proud.

“Many would have thought this was impossible 15 years ago,” he said, adding however that there was no room for complacency.

He said Europe needed to work harder to reduce the pay gap between men and women and to increase LGBTIQ rights all across Europe “even where it will be difficult.”

Joseph Muscat with the lead candidate for the Socialists and Democrats Frans Timmermans. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Joseph Muscat with the lead candidate for the Socialists and Democrats Frans Timmermans. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

In this regard, he said Malta had much to offer and could lead the way.

Timmermans also emphasised the need to strengthen trade unions across the bloc to ensure that workers could effectively fight for better working conditions.

“It’s time that we prepare Europe for a sustainable future,” he said, thanking Commissioner Karmenu Vella for his effort to rid oceans of plastic. “I wanting to thank the guy, Karmenu Vella, for working with me for these past five years”

He told those present to think where they were when Labour came to power six years ago and where they were today. “I also want you to think about where you want to be in five years’ time and which party and take you there.”

Despite being in much better place than it was five years ago, he said it could be in an even better position if voters put their faith in the Labour Party and the European Socialists.

The meeting was also addressed by deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne who said that the Labour Party’s dream 90 years ago, when Workers’ Day was celebrated for the first time, was for workers to no longer be poor.

Through the work of successive Labour Prime Ministers, the dream was now for workers to be rich. “We want everyone here to live the best moments of their life.”

Fearne again appealed to Muscat to stay on, insisting that the country still needed him to guide it.

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