From one end of the world to the other

Malta Independent - - GEJTU ON TUESDAY -

The Prime Min­is­ter has be­come a sort of a globe-trot­ter. One day he is here, the next he is there.

In re­cent days he has spanned the world’s con­ti­nents: hold­ing a con­fer­ence in New York one day and in Moscow a few days later.

We should re­joice that Malta, through its leader, has be­come known and ap­pre­ci­ated around the world. But then we do not know, from in­de­pen­dent sources, what went on in th­ese meet­ings.

There were some news re­ports on the mis­sion to New York which had to do with the is­sue of cor­re­spon­dent banks and their Mal­tese con­tacts. But we have not been told the out­come of th­ese meet­ings, if any­thing has changed with re­gard to the cor­re­spon­dent banks. Then came the meet­ing in Moscow with the Rus­sian prime min­is­ter. A few days be­fore, Rus­sia had ex­pressed its dis­plea­sure at Malta hav­ing had, it would seem, sec­ond thoughts on let­ting Rus­sian ships take on fuel from the bunker­ing op­er­a­tion just out­side Malta. We

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were not told if this is­sue fea­tured in the dis­cus­sions nor what the out­come was.

The only thing we were told was an agree­ment to send some 300 Rus­sian stu­dents to study in Malta. Hardly a mat­ter that re­quires a meet­ing be­tween two prime min­is­ters. The meet­ings in New York were with per­sons in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor. So far, there do not seem to have been any con­tacts with the new Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion nor any mend­ing of fences af­ter the clear sup­port for Hil­lary Clin­ton from both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide in Malta.

As re­gards Rus­sia, the talks with the Krem­lin came at a time when Rus­sia is in the dog house in­ter­na­tion­ally be­cause of its ac­tions in Syria, where it is pro­long­ing the suf­fer­ing of the pop­u­la­tion.

There are on­go­ing sanc­tions against Rus­sia of which Malta is a party. How­ever, in the EU, there are some voices ar­gu­ing for a rap­proche­ment with Rus­sia. That’s how united the EU can be.

On the other hand, there are some mem­bers of the EU, such as the Baltic states but also Poland and maybe Ger­many, who are alarmed at the pos­si­bil­ity of Rus­sian sabre-rat­tling be­fore Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

For all its sec­ond thoughts on al­low­ing Rus­sian ships to re­plen­ish oil stocks from Malta’s wa­ters, it does not seem that Malta has un­der­stood the im­port of Rus­sian ac­tion not just in Syria but any­where where this hap­pens to be.

With re­gard to the stu­dents, one needs to know more, such as in what in­sti­tu­tion the stu­dents will be study­ing. In this re­gard, we have the same ques­tions we had as re­gards the stu­dents at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Malta: who will choose them, who will be re­spon­si­ble for their learn­ing, who will mon­i­tor their be­hav­iour, etc.

Where such State-to-State agree­ments come up, past ex­pe­ri­ence is full of ini­tia­tives that be­gan life as hopes and dwin­dled to sorry shows. It would have been bet­ter if the univer­sity was en­cour­aged and fa­cil­i­tated to at­tract stu­dents from any third coun­try and sets up and draws rules that it can mon­i­tor.

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