[WATCH] Government brought migrant crisis on itself, Beppe Fenech Adami says

Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami said that the Hal Far riots represented the collapse of the system that controlled Malta's migrant population

National Security Minister Michael Farrugia and Shadow Minister for National Security Beppe Fenech Adami
National Security Minister Michael Farrugia and Shadow Minister for National Security Beppe Fenech Adami

The government has brought the migrant crisis facing Malta on itself when it was elected back in 2013 on the 'pushback' mantra, Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami said.

He insisted that that 'pushback' cry had contributed to Malta's isolation from other EU countries. "Five years of Joseph Muscat attacking former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi because he didn't have the guts to take action on immigration and now he finds the same situation in his face," Fenech Adami said.

Speaking on TVM’s Xtra alongside the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia, Fenech Adami said that the government is treating last Sunday's riot at Hal Far's open centre too lightly by dismissing it as being merely an escalation of a drunken incident, instead of coming clean and admitting that there is a problem with the open and closed centres.

“Unless we understand that what happened last Sunday was the collapse of the entire system, then we cannot even fix the situation,” Beppe Fenech Adami said.

He noted that there is a problem of overpopulation in the open and closed centres, and that Malta is being overwhelmed, but argued that the blame for this lies with the current administration, insisting that it was reaping what it had sown.

“This government came into power with the cry of pushbacks,” Fenech Adami remarked, adding that this has isolated Malta from its European partners, and that the country is now paying the price for the government’s decision to dismantle the structures for the handling of migrants, which had been put in place by its Nationalist predecessor.

In response, Farrugia reminded his opposite number that unrest within the migrant population also occurred in the years preceding the Malta Labour Party’s 2013 election victory, and insisted that Malta will not shy away from shouldering its humanitarian responsibilities, even though this has been a record year for migrants arriving from the sea.

Furthermore, the Minister noted that, contrary to Fenech Adami’s claims, Malta is indeed working with its European partners on charting the way forward with regard to the migrant situation.

“We have authored a paper, an agreement between Malta, Italy France, and Germany, which is clear - when a peripheral country is under pressure, the other countries, on a voluntary basis, interject in order to help”, Farrugia said, though Fenech Adami expressed his scepticism on the effectiveness of such agreements.

Farrugia also drew attention to the harsh criticism which both he and the Prime Minister have received from the Nationalist Party in recent days, drawing a sharp contrast with the manner in which the Labour Party behaved when it was in Opposition, and noting ruefully that, even on this issue, “we received no support from the Opposition.”

In concluding, both parties appeared to agree on the importance of looking to the European Commission, and the other member states of the European Union for help with this issue. Fenech Adami spoke of convincing Malta’s European partners to share the burden of migration, while Farrugia lauded the efficiency of the European Commission in such situations, and insisted that, internationally, “we are respected more than ever.”

READ MORE: Government evaluating alternative locations for a new migrant open centre