Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo has appealed for a national effort to prevent criminal organisations from overpowering the Maltese state.
In one of his trademark early-morning posts, Bartolo said it was a shame that while criminals, and those intent on doing wrong, were united in their efforts, the same couldn’t be said about those opposing them.
“Elections come and go. Governments come and go. But certain webs of power, which nobody votes for, remain the same, even if the people change,” Bartolo began his post.
“People in strategic positions weave webs which bring together people from politics, business, the legal profession, notaries, accountants and criminality together. These people work together as it suits them.
“If we do not fight them seriously, using the strength of the law, they will become stronger than the government, parliament, the courts, the police.”
Bartolo’s appeal comes in the midst of fresh revelations about corruption within the highest ranks of government, with testimony given in court by the men accused of assassinating Daphne Caruana Galizia, also implicating government ministers in past high-profile rimes.
Bartolo thanked all those working within the country’s institutions and civil society, “who are doing their part in this fight”.
“It is a shame that it isn’t a fight being fought by a united front. While the webs are united, those fighting them often act on their own and end up taking aim at each other,” Bartolo added.
He called on those who “love our country” to unite in this fight, which was “ongoing and bearing results but which would be “more effective and could truly change the country if there was a united front”.
Malta, he said, could remain driven by dishonesty and corruption, a desire for money and an attitude where all that matters to people is enriching themselves, even if this is done through the “selling of drugs, corruption and other dishonest work”.
For the country to change direction, he said it was essential for everyone to do their part. “This is why I believe in a united front consisting of [political] parties, business groups, professionals and civil society against these criminal webs.”
While many might believe this to be just a dream, Bartolo emphasised how the Maltese people had on many occasions made achievements that many thought to be just that.
“Independence, becoming a Republic, the closure of military bases, neutrality, the creation of a new economy not designed to serve foreigners among us, Malta’s entry into the EU, our social serves… they were all great dreams that helped us build a country based on strong foundations.”
This, however, could all be lost, the minister warned, if the country were to allow hidden webs of informal and illegal power to win over political parties and the country’s institutions. “The surface of the sovereign state would be in the hands of an elected government and national institutions, but its soul would be in the hands of criminal webs.”
What do you make of the minister’s appeal?