Muscat says Libya crisis poses no security threat to Malta

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says UN-backed intervention is only option for Libya, insists Malta is in no real danger or threat from any extremist group.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has this morning insisted that Malta is not in any real danger or threat from any extremist groups from Libya, and that a UN-intervention is the only option to solve the Libyan crisis.

“The government has not received any information or indication of any real danger or threat from any extremist groups in Libya. The Maltese security service is constantly monitoring the situation and the events in Libya, and is in constant contract with other countries,” he argued while urging people not to spread false news from unreliable sources.

Speaking on an interview on One Radio this morning, the prime minister warned that the situation in Libya could “instantly change” and that a UN intervention must ensure that the country would not become a “failed state.”

While defending Malta’s decision not to join the anti-IS coalition, the prime minister insisted that Malta’s neutrality does not mean that it would remain passive in the face of the Libyan conflict. Conversely, he said, the country must insist on the Libyan factions coalescing to find a solution.

However, the prime minister bluntly admitted that this was a tall order, and that an organised intervention led by the United Nations would be the only solution to control the worrying situation in Libya.

“The only solution is for a UN backed intervention to restore security. There needs to be one authority in charge of the country’s security, as otherwise, we risk Libya becoming a failed state,” he said.

Libya is currently caught up in a conflict among rival factions with the Tobruk and Tripoli governments each having its own governments, armed forces and separate parliaments. The country has also become home to factions who have pledges allegiance to the Islamic State.

The prime minister expressed fear of the prospect of non-Libyan organisations gradually taking over the embattled country, and argued that the crisis is no longer just about rival factions fighting each other.

He also said that if things were to carry on like this, Libya risks becoming a failed state. Consequently, he said, the United Nations should intervene not to let Libya collapse.

Muscat also warned that the deteriorating situation in Libya could change overnight and that migrant crossings could increase.

“Europe has seen record migrant crossings from Libya while Malta had the least number of migrants last year. However, the situation can change in an instant, and if Libya were to carry on like this and eventually collapse, the country risks becoming a haven for criminal gangs trafficking migrants,” he said.

Muscat also warned that Malta and Europe “cannot have the cake and eat it,” and that consequently, it can no longer moan about people crossing at sea while staying put waiting for the situation in Libya to improve.

The prime minister also said that as a neutral state, Malta will work to promote peace and that it would provide logistic support to UN backed missions, and urged all Maltese nationals to leave Libya immediately as any future evacuations would be very difficult.