Immigration tops agenda for defence ministers meeting

Home Affairs minister Carmelo Abela meets Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides

Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides
Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides

Immigration topped the agenda of a meeting between Home Affairs and National Security Minister Carmelo Abela and his Cypriot counterpart, Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides during a meeting in Cyprus today.  

Both parties discussed possible measures to counter organised crime and illegal immigration networks. The Ministers also discussed maritime security and neighbourhood policy and collaboration on common issues of concern at EU level. 

Addressing the press after the meeting, Abela said that the Maltese government will continue to make pressure at all European levels.

“We care for people who brave the high seas seeking a better future, but we should also give a signal to our people, all Europeans, that we care about them too,” he said.

He reiterated Malta's position that our country and Italy cannot shoulder the entire burden.

“We did that for many years, it is now the time for all Member States to do their part.” 

Abela also explained that the Maltese government will continue to insist on mandatory sharing of responsibilities and that the EU fulfills its commitment to tackle organized crime, as it had announced earlier this month.

“On our part we have to show the world that we care, but we also have to show fellow Europeans that securing our borders is our aim,” he added.

“European countries cannot ignore the fact that people are dying trying to escape brutality, poverty and hunger. However European countries can also not ignore the security concerns immigration is bringing about in Europe.”

The defence ministers also discussed the prospects of further cooperation on matters of common interest and concern at EU level, including the fight against terror and organised crime.

Abela said that in the fight against terrorism member states needed to act faster and that such meetings provide a platform to discuss tangible ways on how to improve coordination in real time both on a technical and political level.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed areas where their respective armed forces could cooperate, especially in areas of search and rescue.

Abela called for alleviating the EU’s Role as a Global Actor, in particular through its efforts in the European neighbourhood to create a comprehensive, secure approach both on land and on sea, whilst highlighting the importance of enhancing Maritime Security and Safety through information sharing between member states. 

Abela is currently in Cyprus attending the 45th British Isles and Mediterranean Region conference organised by Commonwealth. 

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