PM focuses on migration, need for peace in the Mediterranean region in UN speech
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat focused on migration and peace in the Mediterranean during his speech at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York
Dr Muscat said the UN had considered last year that migration had reached crisis levels.
“Today we are increasingly realising that this phenomenon is set to become ‘a new normal’ that needs to be managed. Despite the difficult debates, discussions, stumbling blocks and widely divergent viewpoints, it is encouraging to see how far we have come and how much we have found that which truly unites us, underpinned by the most fundamental principles of saving lives and upholding human dignity.
“Nevertheless, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I must confess I am still doubtful that all the soft words will be met by hard facts. Despite this, we owe it to everyone to give it a try.
“We need to respond to this challenge, not with fear, not with dread, not by closing ourselves within walls. But with tenacity, conviction and compassion. This is what drives my country time and again to push for migration to be high on the agenda.”
Dr Muscat said people smugglers should be put in the same category as some of the worst type of criminals, and must be treated as such.
“We should seriously consider a structure where these traffickers are brought to justice in front of an international tribunal in order to drive home the message that we are not only looking at this tragedy from the humanitarian aspect, as it should be, but also from the security perspective, and that profiting from human trafficking does not pay.
“Malta also believes that there is no such thing as a unilateral solution to this phenomenon. A global perspective is required. Closer cooperation is essential for and amongst the countries of origin, transit and destination.
“I am immensely pleased and encouraged to see that the outcomes and spirit of the Valletta Summit live on, at least in words and intentions. Most actions unfortunately still need to follow. As I have said, steps now need to be taken especially by those countries that bear the moral responsibility for mass movements, either through their actions or lack of them.”
Dr Muscat said the situation in the Middle East has a huge bearing on that of our region and the whole world. “It pains me to dwell on the fact that we are still nowhere near a solution to the Middle East Peace Process.
“In our most immediate neighbourhood, Malta has been and will continue to support its neighbour Tunisia towards stability and democracy. Despite facing serious challenges, Tunisia is gradually emerging as the first, albeit fragile, Arab democracy. But for it to succeed, it is important that Tunisia is not abandoned by the international community right at this critical juncture. Yet while Tunisia offers hope, the overall picture in Libya continues to be bleak. Nevertheless, I must remark the important, incremental positive developments.
“In spite of the progress however, the situation remains fragile. The Libyan population needs a concretely functioning Government that addresses their basic needs – proper medication, food security and education. We stand behind the Libyan people’s efforts to transform Libya into a safe, democratic, and unified state, with a reconciled people, where state authority and the rule of law are restored. I am certain that this is the dream of the Libyans themselves. We reiterate the need to remain supportive of the Libyan Peace Accord and the Presidency Council, while respecting Libyan sovereignty and taking into account Libyan ownership.”