The elephant in the Chamber
A full, three-hour long debate in the House on Thursday about the Budget vote for the Foreign Ministry did not tackle, except fleetingly, the elephant in the Chamber: Malta is the only EU country not in the anti-Isis coalition.
According to the US State Department, the participants in the coalition are the following: Afghanistan, Albania, the Arab League, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
All other 27 EU Members are there except Malta. The EU as an entity in itself is also part.
This list was quoted in a US Congressional research paper in August 2016 –there seems to be no change since it was launched in 2014. (https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R441 35.pdf)
EU Member States Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden are all considered to be neutral states but they all form part of the coalition in their own right. Every State contributes differently, not all States contribute with military means. Many provide funding or humanitarian resources.
So Malta, in a way the country which is most at risk of Isis which is present in Libya, especially around Sirte, is the only country which does not think being in the anti-Isis coalition is important for its security.
The anti-Isis coalition is not a club. It is deadly serious. By being out of it, Malta is deprived of the exchange of information shared among the members. As stated, not all members contribute with military means.
At a time when Malta is so involved with Frontex and rescue missions it simply makes no sense to do this at considerable risk and then not take sensible precautions considering the real risk that Isis will try and infiltrate the asylum seekers and gain entrance to Europe.
Malta has thus become the chink in the wall, the loophole in the coalition’s wall and it is predictable that Isis will try and take advantage of this.
The parliamentary debate also skimmed over the issue of Malta’s problematic relations with Libya, at a time when two contending governments were vying for control over the country. Again, this highlights the importance for Malta to seek security, a better security than it has now, a security that can be obtained through membership of the coalition.
One also expects from the Alternative Government a clear commitment to join the coalition when it makes it to government.
All the boasting we heard on Thursday about how Malta’s foreign policy is praised by one and all does not hide the glaring weakness of Malta’s security.