[WATCH] ‘Past mistakes will not be repeated, we are committed to address them,’ Robert Abela says

Prime Minister Robert Abela will tell EU leaders that mistakes that damaged country’s reputation will not be repeated

Prime Minister Robert Abela with his Cabinet behind him
Prime Minister Robert Abela with his Cabinet behind him

Robert Abela will tell EU leaders that past mistakes will not be repeated and his government is committed to address them, at his first summit in March.

“I will tell them that Malta is a stable country where the rule of law is strong but with humility I will admit that we did mistakes that could have damaged our reputation and these will not be repeated,” Abela said on Wednesday afternoon.

He was asked by MaltaToday what message he will be taking to EU leaders in his first summit as Prime Minister in the next couple of months.

Abela said he will emphasise that past mistakes will not be repeated. “What happened is in the past and today we are committed to move forward,” he added.

Abela laid emphasis on discipline and enforcement in his first address after his Cabinet got sworn in.

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The Prime Minister said having rule of law on paper was not enough unless there was proper enforcement.

“I believe in discipline,” he said when asked about his Cabinet choices in a lengthy question and answer session with journalists after the swearing-in ceremony at the Palace in Valletta.

Abela insisted that people had peace of mind that there will be continuity in those sectors where the country was doing well and changes to ensure the country can move forward in those sectors where things “could have been done better”.

However, he refused to describe the events of recent weeks as a crisis, insisting that the wrongs committed would be addressed.

Asked about the US government’s offer to help the Maltese police in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation, including the search for Keith Schembri’s mobile phone, Abela said it was not his prerogative as Prime Minister to investigate but would urge the police to do all they can to get to the bottom of things.

Balance between environment and development

With ministers and parliamentary secretaries standing behind him, Abela said the decision to bring the Planning Authority under the environment ministry was a sign of the balance his administration wanted to seek between development and the environment.

He said the creation of a specific ministry for housing and social accommodation was a sign of the government’s greater emphasis on this sector. This is the first time in almost 25 years that housing has a ministry dedicated all to itself.

Chris Cardona and family firm

Asked about the decision not to appoint Chris Cardona in his Cabinet, Abela said the deliberations on Cabinet appointments were his prerogative according to the constitution and would keep the reasons to himself.

Abela said his wife and he pulled out of the family legal firm and it would not be competing for government work.

On the appointment of all three Labour women MPs to Cabinet, Abela said this signalled government’s direction in favour of equality and reforms, including the inclusion of more women in decision making roles.

“They are capable women… this signals our commitment to equality and reforms that should see more women in decision making roles and in Parliament,” he said.

Long-term choices

Abela said the Cabinet had a lot of young faces and was full of energy to get down to work.

“A lot of work has to be done… I trust in the capabilities of my Cabinet and collectively we can move forward,” he said, adding the choices he made were intended for the long term and not just the next two-and-a-half years until the election.