Prime Minister hits out at Italian government's blockade of Lampedusa

Lawrence Gonzi slams Italian claims that Lampedusa cannot take in asylum seekers. 'If Lampedusa is not safe, then Italy is not safe.'

Speaking during a political activity held in Tarxien on Sunday, Gonzi criticised the Italian government for its blockade of Lampedusa port, stopping the Maltese armed forces from taking 170 asylum seekers to the island.

The Italian right-wing government had defended their position by arguing that Lampedusa was “not safe” since it was “full up” and could not provide the necessary medical assistance. During his address, Gonzi stridently dismissed these “theories”.

“I do not accept how someone can write that Lampedusa is not safe for rescued people to be taken there for proper care.” He emphasised that Italian authorities have “a moral responsibility” to ensure and provide immediate rescue and timely medical care.

Gonzi also referred to a past incident when Italian patrol boats blockaded Lampedusa’s port and blocked entry by AFM patrol boats carrying rescued immigrants. Gonzi emphasised that this showed huge insensitivity by Italian authorities. “This is especially so when just days earlier, there was a case when people died just under the eyes of Italian patrol boats. “

Gonzi also hit out at the increasing racism gathering momentum on Maltese online comments boards. He said such comments had to be categorically condemned in every way possible.

Gonzi said Malta’s cultural DNA “does not tell us to choose between those who are blonde or dark”, Gonzi said. “It is not what we learned. These are not our values.” He said that Malta welcomes not only tourists, but also “those that come to us half-dead in a dinghy.”

“Kicking the (immigration) ball from one country to the next will only harm the human dignity of the people who need rescuing,” he added.

“I hope that the Maltese people are proud so that when Libyan resumes its proper course we can look back and say that we carried ourselves well and retained our values,” Gonzi added.

Also present for the political event were Nationalist PM Stephen Spiteri and PN secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier.

Asked specifically to talk about the ongoing issue regarding the 2,800 ‘lost’ referendum votes, Borg Olivier conceded that the Electoral Commission had “given advice” to the parties on how to present the writ so that to allow the 2,800 the right to vote.

He said that this same advice was given on April 15, a day before the Opposition Leader presented its divorce referendum motion in parliament. However, he claimed that the Labour Party ignored this advice.

Borg Olivier also maintained that the PL is creating division on the issue, and even that it is trying to create “divisions” within the Electoral Commission.

He said the Electoral Commission is primarily responsible to the Constitution and the country, not towards the party. “It is sad that there are Electoral Commission members that are releasing privileged documents,” Borg Olivier said, hitting out at leaks published in l-orizzont.

Borg Olivier however did not make any reference to the fact that the Electoral Commission (including a PN representative) had voted in favour to a decision to advise the President to delay the issuing of the writ announcing the divorce referendum until after the electoral register is updated.

Speaking on the same issue, Gonzi refuted that he too was responsible for the issue, and reiterated previous statements that the amendment to the motion that he seconded only changed the referendum date.

He said that in his first motion, Muscat (which was signed by all Labour MPs), it was written that the writ that should be called within a week from being approved by parliament. “Nobody told him to change that (the ‘default’ two weeks) from two week to one – why did he?” Gonzi exclaimed.

“Muscat is playing the part of a child who broke a vase, and then, when caught, is blaming someone else,” Gonzi claimed.

Gonzi also said that Muscat’s “amateurism” also extends over the divorce question itself. “The real mix-up is in the divorce question. At a time when we should be talking about the most precious thing - family strength and unity – we are instead mistakenly turning attention away from the real merit of the issue and debating the referendum question,” he said.

He maintained that divorce is not an issue between the Nationalist and the Labour Parties, “but an issue that affects the family, and protecting the vow of permanent marriage from those who want to turn it into just another relationship.”

Family doesn’t have political colours but is important to everyone, Gonzi maintained.

“All Muscat had to say was: ‘I have a mistake in the date’, and we would have gone back to parliament to change it. And I would have said ‘yes’, immediately. But he didn’t!” Gonzi said.

“He didn’t have the courage to correct the mistake, like he didn’t have the courage to correct a referendum question that is going to cause problems in the future,” Gonzi also claimed.

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“Gonzi emphasised that this showed huge insensitivity by Italian authorities “This is especially so when just days earlier, there was a case when people died JUST UNDER THE EYES OF ITALIAN PATROL BOATS“ This is a grave statement, especially coming from a Prime Minister, and is bound to have serious repercussions in our bilateral relations wit Italy. No country will allow such a statement to go unchecked. It is like a statement of war between two countries.
Has anyone on the goody good side realised that the Mafia has once again gone into business and these illegal immigrants could be the usual criminal activity in human trafficing and not the sole result of the Libyan crisis. Let's hope we would not be burdened with Al Qaeda operatives posing as illegal migrants.
gonzi should have intstructed the FAM boat to continue sailing to Sicily and land the illegals there, as simple as that then we would see were the solidarity promised by Andreotti and his EU cronies is. IVA won and Simon Busutill has a chussy job in Brussels.
Mr Prime Minister, Most of the Maltese are not racist but are concerned about the 'natural balance' in this tiny country. I agree that we should not discriminate between white and black but we have to state facts as they are. Unless this country is prepared economically and culturally to accept large African numbers amongst us then it is no use addressing this nation with accusations and slogans about racism. We were promised solidarity by your party when we joined the EU, but so far, where burden sharing is concerned none of this is evident. I would have thought that Italy, France, Germany, Belgium would have risen to this challenge and accepted responsibility but none of that has happened either, apart from Italy. They were the countries who exploited these African countries so in my mind these same countries should take up the majority inflows of African migrants. We colonised no one and yet we are expected to take in all the boat loads that come our way and even those that are not. It is a very difficult situation indeed when faced with a boat load of people risking there lives on heavy seas but on the other hand how much more difficult would it be if say 10,000 migrants would suddenly turn up on our shores in a matter of a week. Where is the demarcation line, Mr Prime Minister, between accepting migrants (or refugees) and when we have to say ‘Stop we are really full up now’. What numbers are you willing to accept before this country is changed beyond recognition
Corky Siemaszko, Daily News (New York), March 7, 2011 Libyan leader Moammer Khadafy played the race card Monday, warning Europe that if he falls they will be deluged by hordes of illegal African immigrants. “There are millions of blacks who could come to the Mediterranean to cross to France and Italy, and Libya plays a role in security in the Mediterranean,” he told the France 24 television station. “Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean,” Khadafy’s son, Seif, added. “You will see the pirates in Sicily, in Crete, in Lampedusa. You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.” The blaring bigotry came as Khadafy’s forces drew a line in the sand around the despot’s hometown of Surt and launched a fierce counter-attack against rebels trying to topple him.
As we used to say in the good old days: "Min xarrbu kielu l-bakkaljaw!"
ahhaahaaaha yes lawrence Gonzi continue like that, you are the PM, so what will happen will al be your fault. there are about 1 million illegal imigrants ready to get out of Africa, and 1 milion ready eh. so next year wil be another 1 million. For now that's all :)
Gonzi said Malta’s cultural DNA “does not tell us to choose between those who are blonde or dark”, Gonzi said. “It is not what we learned. These are not our values.” He said that Malta welcomes not only tourists, but also “those that come to us half-dead in a dinghy.” And the winner of the Nobel Prize for Christian values is …
Quote:'Gonzi said Malta’s cultural DNA “does not tell us to choose between those who are blonde or dark”, Gonzi said' Unquote: And I ask this in all sincerity without in anyway appearing to be a racist: 'Dear Gonzi, do you really think this is the reality of the local scenario? I think that if you 'realy' think so, then you are living in another planet. But then I can't say ask the men/women in the street because everyone is scares stiff of telling the truth lest they be labelled a racist (with all the consequences at law that this entails) but in their hearts of hearts MANY would not agree with you. And this is the plain truth. I simply hope that yours is not simply political talk because otherwise you are really in your insular Ivory Tower?
Words, words and more words! What is Dr Gonzi doing to safeguard the interests of Malta? Simply accept any boatload that is rejected by our 'carissimi' Italians friends? Actions speak louder than words. It is time for Dr Gonzi to roll up his sleeve and show us that he is truly a Popeye i.e. he has a real 'par idejn sodi'
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! 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!