An international relations lecturer at the University of Malta has penned a scathing assessment of Malta’s diplomatic efforts following the country’s FATF greylisting.
Writing for Times of Malta, Anna Khakee advised the government to pull its socks up and not to go down the path of complaining that tiny Malta is being bullied by global giants.
“A beginners’ course in international relations will tell you that international politics is a game led by the large and rich powers of this world,” she said. “To complain about this fact is as useful as complaining about being short rather than tall or the other way around. You live with it. And you do the best of it.”
Khakee said that a key dictum of international relations is that small states and microstates should seek to build alliances and behave according to the rules of the game, even if the rules were set by other countries.
“Small states and microstates are usually the greatest promoters of international laws and rules for they would simply not exist without them and their citizens would be eternally at peril in their absence,” she said.
“Living with it does not mean believing that you are too small to need a systematic foreign policy and too small not to have to follow the rules.”
“For this is the curious contradiction in some of the statements made by the Maltese government: Malta is so small that it can do what it wants because it does not matter in the larger scheme of things.”
“It can behave like a child in the company of adults. As a result, it behaves as if there was no such thing as wrongdoing: the problem, it has signalled time and again, is not the wrongdoing but being caught and ‘outed internationally’ for it.”
“Doing the best of it means trying to influence where you can. Small states have sometimes managed to change the rules of international politics. But they have always done so referring to concepts of what is morally right.”
“To somehow claim that you want to behave criminally because others behave criminally is not going to sway any argument.”
“To say that small island states need particular support because of their precarious geographical position can do so. To say that small EU states have particular problems that need attention likewise.”
“For that you need to build alliances. And for alliances to work, you will need to be seen as, yes, an adult and, yes, as an honourable country.”
Khakee warned that Malta has failed to both forge alliances and follow the rules and that it must now start acting strategically and in full accordance with national, European and international law if it wants to remain a player on the European and international stage.
“Otherwise, it will end up isolated or in rather unrecommendable company, which is not going to lead to longer-term prosperity or well-being for its citizens. If it wants to form part of the community of states, it must stop its little-brother whining.”
“It must act like an adult and also treat the Maltese population as thinking adults, not electoral fodder that can be manipulated by blaming the big bad foreigner.”