From one end of the world to the other
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
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.