Labour leader thinks Lampedusa blockade was ‘right decision’ by Italy

Joseph Muscat lauds Italy’s right-wing government for putting national interest first on immigration.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat could not come to criticise the Italian decision to blockade the port of Lampedusa to asylum seekers that had been saved by the Maltese armed forces, and instead lauded Italy for its “strong attitude, a position in favour of its national interest.”

Muscat said Malta should take similar strong stands that safeguard its national interest on immigration. He also referred to instances where EU member states pass the buck to each other on immigration as an example of strong stands.

“Italy issued its asylum seekers with temporary travel documents, so they travel upwards. France refused them and so did Germany, because they took unilateral stands not to apply the rules. So Malta shouldn’t be wary about taking a strong attitude in favour of the national interest. The national interests comes first and before anything else.”

Muscat blamed the European Union for failing to provide clear rules of engagement for the burden-sharing of asylum seekers saved at sea. "We shouldn't feel 'guilty' of not being European about all this... the EU immigration pact we signed was not worth the paper it was printed on."

But Muscat said Italy's blockade was "the right decision", even though Italy breached international law by claiming Lampedusa could not be considered ‘a safe port’ and preventing Maltese rescuers from taking 170 asylum seekers to the Italian island. Instead they were brought to Malta.

Muscat said the Maltese government should not just accept ‘tokenism’ from countries like Germany who accepted to take in 100 refugees from Malta this month.

The Labour leader was fielding questions from di-ve.com editor Paul Cachia and One New journalist Wendy Cachia today on Super One radio.

Joseph Muscat has reiterated that there was agreement from both parties in the Electoral Commission to delay the publication of the referendum writ until late April, so that 2,800 voters who had just turned 18 would not lose their vote for the 28 May divorce referendum.

Muscat said the Electoral Commission had already agreed on delaying the publication of the writ so that the electoral register used would be that published in March 2011, allowing the addition of some 2,800 voters who had just turned 18.

Muscat said the Commission later reversed its position. “I don’t exclude this was done because of electoral considerations... for all his claims to being a stickler on rules, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had no qualms in the 2008 election to increase voting time by an extra hour.

“If the PN ever had any aspirations of being the party of youth, whatever credentials they ever had have now been lost.”

Paul Cachia however asked Muscat whether Labour was even aware that its referendum motion demanded that the writ would have to be published after it is signed by the President.

“The Prime Minister is giving the impression that this situation is due to the wording of the motion. He didn’t see a problem, either because he ignored it or because he wanted to take advantage of it. He was aware that there was convergence between the two parties on the matter of the electoral register.”

The motion asks for the referendum writ to be signed by the President of the Republic within 15 days of the passing of the motion. But Muscat says the writ could have been published by the Electoral Commission much later so that it allows the March electoral register to be first published.

Joseph Muscat said the island had to reconsider its energy policy and dependence on fuel oil, although he made no mention of how to tap alternative sources of energy.

“When the country had to take a decision on its energy needs for the next 25 years, it chose heavy fuel oil,” Muscat said, referring to the Delimara power station extension. The use of heavy fuel petroleum was favoured over the use of gas in a controversial tender that was the subject of an investigation by the Auditor General and now is under review by the parliamentary public accounts committee.

“The geo-strategic developments on the price of oil in recent months, and the impact of the Japanese earthquake on nuclear power policy – Italy for example is suspending the reversal of its nuclear ban and going back to petroleum – means the price of oil is going to increase,” Muscat said.

Muscat also said the prime minister was wrong in creating the impression that the Libyan crisis had not affected the Maltese economy. “Many Maltese companies with business interests in Libya are still keeping many employees on their payroll... we need some good will for these Maltese companies, after all we have already gone to the aid of countries like Greece and Spain in the sovereign debt crisis.”

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Micheal Bonanno
@Antoine Vella. Look who's talking about Arab(ish). Wasn't your party who called the Libyans tal-Habbaziez? And you dare talk about intolerance. Even the way you write, show the intolerance you have to those who have different views and opinion from yours.
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It is never in the "national interest" to be racist. . Those who are intolerant and prejudiced against Africans and Arabs should realise that we Maltese are not so different after all, and, for northern Europeans, we are practically Arab(ish).
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@M Said. You are not being racist with all your name calling? Yes many Maltese do take Malta's interests at heart are worried about tha gaffe of Dublin 2 signed by our Prime Minister! We are now suffering the cinsequences, and the worst is yet to come. Hopefully, with help of some ex votos, this might not happen.
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@marks so enlighten us on what approach we are to take. Are we to send the armed forces to pick up anyone that the italians don't want? i mean is there a limit 1000 2000 3000.... Would that make Malta Progressive?
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hhhahaahah I am reading alot of "progressive" comments by the supporters of the LP... oh my gosh! I suppose that reading l-orizzont, it-torca and kullhadd, waving the flag with the torca, listening to ONE news and singing Gensa are not enough to make one progressive .... by the way is supporting the rapidly xenophobic and ultraconservative Lega Nord an essential part of being a Moderate-Progressive???? By the way an wonder of wonders whenever anyone passes a negative comment vs Dr Muscat we get most of our friends here ranting on about GonziPN... You just don't get it do you? Highlighting the fact that Joseph Muscat has made a faux pas does not mean that the person doing so admires Gonzi... It's just that your brains are not sufficiently evolved to think outside the PN - PL microcosmos.... grow up!!!
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@antoin vella gonziPN needs a better apologist than you, you have been checked, measured and found wanting your arguments are like ice cubes they melt away. Sorry for the repetition.
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'antoin vella gonziPN needs a better apologist than you, you checked, measured and found wanting your arguments are like ice cubes they melt away.
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@avella Do not delude yourself, Norman Lowell's ideas are very much ingrained and believed in, by gonziPNer's especially the grass roots and a couple of very important heavy weights. Only those donors who employ these migrants with low wages and no NI expenses are in concert with gonzi. Norman's facist ideas are very much like gonziPN/PN/Partito Nazzionalista of today and yesterday,no amount of whitewashing is going to change your party's facist past and Demochristian aka facist present.
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Dr Muscat said that up to now, the EU has also spoken empty words about ‘solidarity’. “The fact that Germany is to take 100 immigrant is tokenism. The Maltese state should defend Malta. Italy, when push came to shove, looked out for their own interests only.” The Italians give these immigrants a temporary document with which they immediately go to France. France, in the meantime closed the border, saying Schengen rules do not apply in such cases. The Germans acted in the same way. Why not the Maltese? “We need to do what is best for our country, no more no less.” Continuing on the topic of immigration, Dr Muscat said there needs to be “rules of engagement” which are clear. Asked if Italy broke these rules Dr Muscat said “Italy is simply doing what is best in their national interest- my job is to see that we are doing what’s best for Malta’s national interest” Muscat went on to say that he is disappointed by Europe because the FRONTEX plan is non-existent. “The Maltese have been paying a lot of money in taxes for FRONTEX, but where are the benefits? We have an amnesty office here, but is it really making a difference?” Asked what he would have done different, Dr Muscat reminded the journalist that he himself advised against signing the immigration pact.
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Isabelle Borg
La tajjeb ghal Franza u ghall Germanja li jibghathom lura, tajjeb ghalina ukoll. mela fl'Ewropa mhux kulhadd indaqs jew?
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@Antoine Vella, Your appraisal of what Joseph Muscat said is clearly biased. The PL leader simply said that just as the majority of EU countries do not give a hoot about the possible catastrophe that could overcome our little Island then we should stand up and protect our interests just like Italy had done in recent days. You twisted the article's content to suit your belligerent approach to the issue of illegal migration but mostly to cast a black shadow over the PL.
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I find that Joseph Muscat's words are not very different from Lowell's infamous speech at the Safi meeting, for which he was charged with inciting racial hatred. . It should be of some satisfaction to Lowell that Imperium Europa's policies on immigration have been taken on board by the PL.
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Whilst EU members are looking after their own interest and those of their people we have to play the good Samaritans all the way and excepot token charity from these supposedly EU friends, the same EU friends who promised us solidarity should we become members. I am for helping but then there are limits to everything even missioneries have limits ask the nuns who hightailed it out of Benghazi when the trouble started, everyone looks after his own. . To all the antoin vellas of this forum when you start hosting illegals at your home at your expenses then we will believe in your true intentions, until then button up your holier-than-thou attitude has become puerile and sickening.
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I am proud because our DNA does not tell us to choose between people who are fair and people who are dark, people with white skin and people with black skin. As a country, we welcome not only tourists but even those who come half-dead on a dinghy and who we save from the high seas.” DR GONZI Ibqa proud Dr Gonzi u l-poplu Malti jibqa jbati min taxxi qawwija biex nzommu go pajjizna dawn l-eluf ta immigranti .Taf kemm tigih lil gvern biex jzomm lil dawn l-immigranti illegali? Il flus min fuqna irid jigborom u stennew hafna hafna iktar taxxi hbieb!
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Can we take Gonz,i the Bidnija blogger and Mr Antoine Vella, seriously when they trump up the racist card? These treat Maltese realists and pragmatists as' Neanderthals' and stupid people but then, 'qalbhom perzuta' when it comes to illegal immigrants! Half the population cannot be all that stupid; we can read between the lines; charity begins at home. Malta is like a boat; it's safety is first and foremost. We are already burdened with thousands; being tiny and without resources and calling for help is not 'racism'. As the Cardinal of Venice recently said, one has to take care of his own first; we are already in a huge finacial mess ; in three years time the yearly increase of 300 million euros in debt will be unsustainable: Dr Fenech Adami and Dr Gonzi will have to shoulder the blame!
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@Antoine Vella We would be doing exactly like the long life allies of the PN i.e. the Italians, the French (yesterday their Interior Minister said they do ot have any duty to pick up boat people) AND the rest of Europe who prefer to look the other way. Why should we, with our limited resources, be holier than the Pope? Tell us Dear Antoine!
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The refusal by the Italian authorities in denying the disembarkation in Lampedusa of 171 illegal immigrants which were saved by the Maltese vessel P61, could be a strategy by the Italian government in order to discourage the landings of the illegal immigrants, by sending the message that Lampedusa, which is the gateway to Europe, is closed and that the alternative is to go to Malta, where the illegal immigrants will be stranded for ever with the least possibility of ever leaving that island.
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@Antoine Vella Missek tisthi tipprova tiddemoniza lil Dr Muscat! IL PAJJIZ U SIGURTA TAL MALTIN TIGI L-EWWEL U QABEL KOLLOX! NIFILHU NHALLSU TAXXI IKTAR HABBA DAWN IMMIGRANTI ILLEGALI. QEGHDIN NITKISSRU ISSA LA JIGU MIJIET IKTAR NARAW XHA NGHAMLU?
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Jessica Chetcuti
Antoine, It really depends how you interpretate JM’s statement. I actually agree with him that national interest comes before anything else. .........Obviously you don’t. . I also agree that we as a nation should follow Italy’s example by issuing temporary travel documents which will at least show the rest of the EU that we will no longer be taken for granted and ignored where immigration is concerned........... Obviously you don’t agree. . However it must be said that if we did that all hell would break loose, because that’s how the EU works, it’s a bully to the small nations. We need help from other EU countries and as that help hasn’t materialised, we have no option but to resort to drastic measures. .
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Sur Antoine Vella ahjar titfi il-kompjuter ghax taqa' ghac-cajt qieghed bil-kummenti tieghek. Kieku qatt tikteb xi haga bis-sugu. Ili nosservak ta'. L-anqas tifem xi jkun hemm miktub fl-artikli u tikkummenta bhal li kieku xi proffessur. Pero li nara li inti liebes nuccali blu u ma tnehhih qatt. Ahna bhala gzira Maltija ghandna bzonn inzommu iebes mhux biss mal-emigranti imma ukoll ma l-ewropa. Dawn l-imigranti ghandhom bzonn l-ghajnuna u bhala maltin ta' qalb tajba intuha, izda l-ewropa trid tghina mhux thallina nerfghu il-piz wahedna, ghax fl-ahhar minn l-ahhar mil-but taghna (taxxi) qed jithallas kollox.
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EU officials fear waves of illegal immigrants from Africa if Gaddafi falls Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/114672/20110221/libya-immigrants-tunisia.htm
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Antoine Vella, As usual your comments show you for the moron and utter idiot you are. You can't come up with a solid argument, so you resort to the mad type of 'reasoning' you have acquired from your mistress in Bidnija. Take my advice, stupid, think hard before you speak or write. You're just making a fool of yourself.
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Bravu ghalik Joseph. Malta ghandha tigi l-ewwel u qabel kollox u jien m'hiniex Mintoffjan Sur Antoine Vella. Le, dan mhux pajjiz razzist imma pajjiz li ghandu bzonn l-ghajnuna u mhux min jirkbu. Kif nistghu ahna qieghdin fi klabb li skond Edward Fenech Adami ghandu s-sisien tieghu fis-solidarjeta u hallewna ghar-rihna. Ta l-EU iridu jikkmandawna f'kollox u x'hin nigu bzonnhom jinjorawna. Qum minn hemm Dward u tkellem issa. Din hi l-vera prova ta' l-EU li webbiltna bija inti. Hallik mid-divorzju. Ma messikx mort tilaq lil dawk il-gvernijiet midinba kollha ta' Ewropa ghax kollha ghandhom id-divorzju f'pajjizhom. Imma bil haqq ahna l-puri ghax hekk kienu qallulna li l-Ewropa ghanda bzonn lil Malta biex terga tikkonvertija. Gibtuna koppi.
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No decent person need wait for 'instructions" about how to interpret Joseph Muscat's shocking statements. ' Right after Bishop Grech's exhortation to respect human life, along comes Joseph Cowboy Muscat to tell us that we should copy the Italians and take a 'strong stand". . What strong stand? Let them drown, perhaps? . Only the most blinkered Mintoffjan will deny that Joseph Cowboy Muscat is faithfully following Lowell's advice. Bravu għalih!
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Jien nahseb li sewwa qal fuq ir Rai dak il gurnalista Taljan li is suldati Maltin kienu qed jisparaw fuq l-immigranti illegali (li fuq din jiena cert li is suldati Maltin ma kienux qed jaghmlu dak li qal imma xi haga kien qied JIGRI)ghax wara li qal dak id diskors hmistax ilu fgimgha dahlu 1000 immigrant fMalta Ghallura qabel kif fLampedusa dahlu mal 4000 immigrant fil waqt li fMalta ma dahal HADD Issa il gvern ta Dr lawrence Gonzi ma ghandux il HILA jaghmel bhal Italja u ma ihalliex izjed immigranti Illegali jithlu hawn imbilli imorru Dr Tonio Borg il ministru tal affarijiet barranin u Dr Simon Busutill JITKARRBU biex L-UE jiehdu minnhom ibqa cert li dawn mhux ser jiehdu Immisshom jisthu il Germanja 100 immigrant trid tiehu min 1000 li dahlu hawn fGimgha ghalhekk dr Lawrence Gonzi ghandu ikollok id DMIR li taghmel bhal ma ghamel il gvern Taljan u GHALAQ il bieb ghal dan l-EXODUS ta immigranti Illegali imbilli jghaddu min QRIB MALTA ma ghanniex DMIR INZOMMUHOM AHNA
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@antoine Can't wait for your comments regarding JM's shameful statement, Why in due course ? are you waiting for instructions from the Bidnija witch or Castille ? Thank God that finally, someone has merged who sees Malta's interests as paramount, and decides to act as a leader should. Meanwhile, the PM con go on and continue trying to wriggle his way out of his latest VROMA regarding the 2800 youths he and his party have defranchised for the coming referendum. We arelady have someone who really knows what Malta's interests and priorities are.
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Il-lallu, Alchemist, you need to be spoon-fed then. Read my comment to Salgister.
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@Antoine Vella Quote:"..Joseph Muscat could not come to criticise the Italian decision.." Could not come? Did he have a previous engagement, perhaps?" Unquote: What previous engagement are you talking about?. I think your memory isn't really serving you right because you have forgotten that Dr Gonzi is the PM of Malta. How can Dr Muscat have ' previous engagement' as you so call it, when he is not the PM of Malta? I thought bilateral agreements are signed between heads of state, No? Are you by any chance referring to the pipeline agreement between Malta and Sicliy which the long time Italians friends of the PN are threatening to rescind? Please enlighten us further!
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When Gaddafi said that Europe will be dumped with refugees, I now believe that he was not joking. It makes much sense what Dr.Muscat said to-day about the decision that Lampedusa took. We should do the same, so we will show the world that E.U. has and was only nice words and no action about burden sharing.
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Salgister, I was commenting sarcastically on Matthew Vella's ungrammatical turn of phrase. . I'll criticise Joseph Muscat's shameful statement in due course.
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Micheal Bonanno
@Antoine Vella. JM is no arse-licker. For him, like us Mintoffjani (as you call us, to, in your line of thinking, ridicule us), MALTA COMES FIRST AND FOREMOST! To you and your ilk, Malta doesn't come first and foremost, but what your friends like. And this is the case. Your friends, the Italians, have given our friendship the order of the boot.
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IL PAJJIZ U SIGURTA TAL MALTIN TIGI L-EWWEL U QABEL KOLLOX! nIFILHU NHALLSU TAXXI IKTAR HABBA DAWN IMMIGRANTI ILLEGALI. QEGHDIN NITKISSRU! TAKE A STAND DR GONZI!
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"..Joseph Muscat could not come to criticise the Italian decision.." Could not come? Did he have a previous engagement, perhaps?
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Xjigifieru ndahluwhom Malta 171 immigrant iehor meta leqreb port kien Lampedusa. Ma nafx ghala ghamel hekk il Gvern Malti. Mela juri is snin maghna l-Maltin biss billi jfaqqalna it taxxi! Missu wera snienu mat taljani meta ghandna raguni validissima! Ma jistax jkun jkunu vicin l-Italja nohorgu ahna nsalvawhom u ma johorgux it taljani. Ha nintlew ga elf fGimgha!