Malta could soon see direct flight connections to Libya resume, Prime Minister Robert Abela has revealed after returning from a meeting with new interim leader Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
Speaking on ONE Radio this morning, Abela said talks with the newly sworn-in Libyan Prime Minister were “productive and well-needed” to deepen relations between the two countries.
“We didn’t just discuss migration but also commerce. The potential is enormous and Malta has always had friendly and respectful relations with Libya,” Abela explained.
In terms of commerce, the Prime Minister said discussions are underway to facilitate more investments between the countries. Direct flights would be an important way forward.
“Of course, this depends on the stability and security in Libya. But I’m optimistic in that regard,” he added.
“I’ve invited the interim Prime Minister to Malta. We’re looking forward to building better relations between businesses. When I was there, I saw a different Libya, one that is more stable. This is crucial for Malta and Europe.”
On migration, the Prime Minister stressed that Libya’s role is crucial.
“Like Malta and Italy, Libya is a victim of this crisis,” he said.
“Libya is a country of transit, with large volumes of people coming from the south of Africa to cross to Europe. We need to stem the flow of people trying to make the journey before they’re caught at sea.”
Abela said that discouraging people from travelling to Libya is crucial for Malta because the country “cannot cope with more irregular migration”.
“We must deter them from travelling to Libya and halting them from getting onto boats. If that doesn’t work, then we need solidarity from other EU countries to help relocate them safely,” he explained.
His message comes as 270 migrants in the vicinity of Malta’s Search and Rescue Zone (SAR) were disembarked in Lampedusa on Easter weekend after migrant hotline AlarmPhone accused Malta of washing its hands of the situation.
In Easter 2020, at least 12 people died at sea, a tragedy dubbed as “an Easter Massacre” by local NGO Repubblika. The group accused Prime Minister Robert Abela and other officials of going orders of an illegal pushback against conventions of international law.
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