While acknowledging that the European Union needs to step up its efforts in helping Malta with its ongoing migrant crisis, Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo has appealed for people to not “confuse one thing with another”, saying our island would be worse off without the EU.
Taking to Facebook earlier this morning following this weekend’s decision for Malta to take in migrants aboard a number of tourist ferries, Bartolo started off by saying he had written to “a number of friends in the European Union” to draw attention to Malta’s current situation, telling them they “need to move quickly to shoulder responsibility and take the migrants we have among us”.
“Those of us who work for decisions like these get weaker and lose all our credibility if the European Union’s solidarity does not arrive,” Bartolo went on, saying the only thing that follows the EU’s lack of action is the strengthening of “those people who wish to see Malta get further away from the European Union and turn against it”.
Going on to say he had already received replies promising the EU would be doing its part, Bartolo wasn’t ready to hold his breath, saying “we’ll judge according to the facts”.
It was here, however, that Bartolo felt a clarification needed to be made on Malta’s migrant boat arrivals, and the EU’s supposed role in all this.
“There are people who confuse one thing with another,” the Foreign Affairs Minister started. “Boats full of immigrants are sent from Libya and Tunisia to Europe via our route or Lampedusa’s not because we’re in the EU. But because where we are between Europe and Africa.”
“The boats would’ve arrived anyway had we not been in the European Union. We’d be worse off if weren’t in the European Union.”
“As long as we’re in the EU, we can turn to the other members and work for solidarity with facts, and they can share this great and difficult challenge of irregular immigration,” Bartolo continued.
“They’re not showing enough solidarity with us, and if they keep at it, they’re going to be the cause of having our people turn against the European Union,” he warned.
“Until now, ever since we joined the EU, our people have always been among those in favour of the EU,” Bartolo said, going on to remind everyone, however, that “this support is neither automatic nor through some perpetual lease”. “This support carries on depending on how much our people feel EU membership is for the common good in a number of different areas of life,” he clarified.
Bartolo finished by directing his words to those people “who think leaving the EU will solve this great challenge of irregular immigration”.
“Exiting the EU will make us worse because we’d be much, much, and much more alone to face a challenge no country can solve alone.”