Muscat: We can’t expect solidarity from others if we do not show it ourselves

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that from both a political and humanitarian standpoint, Malta must extend a helping hand if it expects other countries to do the same

Malta must show solidarity with other countries in issues related to migration if it expects the same treatment in return, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday morning.

Speaking during a phone-in on ONE radio, Muscat said that Malta will keep abiding by international rules in dealing with migration, but insisted that the country also needed to do its part and show solidarity.

“Malta will be extending a helping hand of solidarity in helping to relocate the migrants,” Muscat said. 

“I have no problem showing solidarity with other countries, and I will shoulder the decision taken. This is what I am Prime Minister for, to take decisions.”

On Saturday Malta pledged to take 50 migrants out of a total of 450 that were stranded on a fishing vessel off the coast of Italy. The Italian government had initially said that the boat would not be allowed to enter Italy, but later transferred the migrants onto two patrol boats, which are expected to arrive in Italy later today.

READ ALSO: Malta to help Italian-led migrant relocation effort

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that Malta and France had agreed to take 50 migrants each, while offers were also arriving from other countries.

Despite showing solidarity, Muscat said that the government would not be pushed around by bigger countries and would stick to its position when this was backed up by international rules.

 “No matter how big other countries are, as long as the proper decisions are taken, no country will impose anything on us,” Muscat said. 

Turning to court proceedings against Claus-Peter Reisch, the captain of the MV Lifeline, who was charged last week with entering Maltese waters without permission and with vessel registration irregularities, Muscat insisted that those that did not abide by the rules needed to face the consequences. 

“If a captain does not obey orders at sea, he must face the consequences. Now we let the autonomy of the courts decide, then we see what the next step is,” Muscat said. 

Last month, the MV Lifeline was granted permission to dock in Malta after a week-long dispute, but only after nine countries, including Malta and Italy reached an “ad-hoc agreement” for the relocation of the migrants on board.

Muscat insisted that the agreement was an indication that countries were beginning to show solidarity, adding that a group of migrants left Malta for Luxembourg today. 

READ ALSO: Europe’s final solution: ‘let them drown’ | Maria Pisani

Pensions to go up again

The Prime Minister also said that his government would be increasing pensions once again in the next budget, in order to ensure that more people benefitted from the country’s economic growth.

Muscat stressed that the government would not be slowing down during the summer, and will continue investing in new sectors like blockchain technologies while continuing to oversee an unprecedented level of infrastructural work. 

“I’ve already told ministers to put pedal to the metal and continue working hard,” said Muscat, noting that Malta was expected to have the second largest level of economic growth in Europe. “We will be doing the utmost to ensure that more people benefit from the government’s work.” 

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