[WATCH] 'We're having a good discussion,' Grech says on talks with Abela on new President

Nationalist Leader Bernard Grech expressed satisfaction with how the discussion is unfolding with Robert Abela over who shall be the new president

(Photo: PN)
(Photo: PN)

The Prime Minister and the Opposition leader are engaged in a constructive discussion about who should be the new president of Malta.

Responding to questions from PBS’ Mario Xeureb, Nationalist Leader Bernard Grech expressed satisfaction with how the discussion is unfolding with Robert Abela.

“We are having a good discussion, as it should be. I must say that this is what I always expected since the first time I became Opposition Leader,” Grech said.

Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech held their first face-to-face meeting on the matter in the second week of February.

Abela and Grech have a frosty relationship but sources privy to the talks told MaltaToday the meeting was “friendly”. It is unclear whether the two leaders discussed specific names in this first encounter.

President George Vella’s five-year term ends on 4 April and his successor will have to be appointed by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, a new constitutional proviso.

READ MORELet the people elect the president

Surrounded by party supporters, MEP candidates, and MPs in Mellieħa, Grech went on to recall how Abela was not as cooperative with him as he had wished when first becoming leader.

“I found a prime minister who told me, ‘You only enter Castille when you win over me,’” Grech added.

Grech acknowledged that people will remember this mistreatment but emphasized that he is looking forward to moving on with discussions.

He also insisted that now that discussions have kicked off, he will respect the confidentiality of said discussions and won’t go into much more detail.

Pressed on his opinions towards some of the names that have already popped up in the media, such as Helena Dalli, the present European Commissioner for Equality, Grech insisted he won’t indulge in any more details.

However, Grech did explain that the ideal future president needs to ensure they work towards unity.

He also emphasised that the future president does not need to be a politician.

“Not that being a politician is bad, as that experience could be useful when facing certain issues, but the message I would like to send is that some individuals who can contribute to the country are not in politics,” Grech explained.

Grech highlighted that when choosing the next president, the prime minister and himself should look into the track record of the candidates, not only their present occupation.

Addressing questions about surveys reflecting voting intentions, Grech played down the results, saying the party's struggle against state-controlled institutions, the power of incumbency, and what he described as "corrupt practices," such as government cheques issued on the eve of elections.

He highlighted a recent incident where the Speaker ruled against TVM for misreporting his parliamentary remarks, presenting them in precisely the opposite manner.

Asked about Malta's neutrality, Grech commended Abela for supporting Ukraine, deeming it "the right thing to do." He drew a parallel with former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's assistance during Libya's civil war, emphasizing the importance of taking a stand in certain international crises.