LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese governement rebutted accusations made by non-governmental organisations that Malta is refusing to rescue hundreds of migrants in distress and instead accused the NGOs of “attacking” the Armed Forces of Malta. 470 migrants on board the rescue ship Geo Barents are still waiting permission to disembark. A crew member confirmed that in 72 hours they have made seven rescues, two of them in the Maltese search and rescue area. The organisation Doctors without Borders (MSF) said it is “appalled by the fact that the Maltese Armed Forces who were primarily responsible for the rescues in the area were informed but remained silent and inactive, negleting their legal obligation to provide or coordinate assistance”.
On Tuesday, another group of 500 migrants who were adrift onboard a wooden fishing boat in the Maltese search and rescue region, were escorted by Italian authorities to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily. The Maltese authorities were accused of having refused to intervene in the rescue by Alarm Phone and Sea-Eye.
The Maltese Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri denied that Malta was refusing to rescue migrants, and claimed that the migrants who disembarked in Sicily on Tuesday were not in distress “as they reached Sicily autonomously”. He added that “over the years the AFM always carried out its duties in the best way possible and this attack on the AFM is unjust and coming from who expects Malta to become a migration hub in the Mediterranean.” He reafformed that this situation will never happen.”
Minister Camilleri also denied that Malta has a secret agreement with Italy to accept migrants rescued in the Maltese search and rescue area and to be taken to Italian ports.
The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) 2021 country report on Malta published this week gives a damming review of the asylum procedures and reception conditions in Malta. The report mentioned that in 2021 the AFM continued to drastically decrease rescue operations at sea and described the situation in open reception centres as “challenging”.
In January Malta was charged with supporting crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by coordinating pushbacks of asylum seekers at sea.
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LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – For the seventh consecutive year, the LGBT lobby group ILGA has confirmed Maltàs first place with the maximum score for LBGT rights.
Malta scored 92% in seven crucial areas including law and policies in equality, family rights, legal gender recognition, freedom of expression and asylum rights.
Malta has the most progressive gay rights following the introduction of civil unions, adoption and cohabitation rights for same-sex couples and inclusive education. Gay men are also allowed to donate blood after the National Blood Transfusion Service acquired advanced testing equipment.
However, ILGA called on the Maltese government to invest more in the country’s sexual health service which is under-staffed. In view of the growing number of sexual transmitted diseases, the Malta Gay Rights Movement and HIV Malta have also spoken out against the lack of improvements at Maltàs GU Clinics, despite the Health Ministry’s promise to double personnel by September 2019 and described the situation as “an extremely serious issue”.
ILGA also called on the Maltese government to revamp Maltàs sexual health policy which remains in an uncertain state following timelines to update the outdated document not being met.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The authorities at the Malta Freeport have intercepted a record 1,494kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of around 300 million euros.
The 50 bags with 1,494 1kg blocks of cocaine were intercepted at the Freeport Scanning Facility in a container which was transporting bananas from Colombia, en-route to the Slovenian port of Koper. The port of Koper, located on the North Adriatic, is a potential transit point for South American cocaine and North African cannabis destined for Western Europe.
The Drug Squad of the Malta Police Force has launched an investigation, and a magesterial inquiry has been opened.
Malta Customs has repeatedly broken its cocaine seizure records in recent years: having seized 750kg of cocaine in 13 separate operations in 2019. One seizure took place in 2020, though it alone saw the confiscation of 612kg of cocaine, and another seizure last year saw the confiscation of 740kg. A new record had been set last month, with the interception and seizure of 800kg of cocaine at the Freeport.
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LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Maltese Parliament on Tuesday afternoon and called the Maltese government to freeze the assets of Russians who bought the Maltese citizenship through the sale of passports scheme. He called on Malta to confiscate Russian property and yachts, warning the Maltese government not to let Russian oligarchs hiding them in Malta. “Do not allow your island be abused. Carry out the necessary checks to prevent the Russians from hiding in Malta”, insisted Zelensky. Also called on the Maltese government to intercept all vessels under the Maltese flag from transporting Russian oil. The Ukrainian president likened the war in Ukraine to what happened in Malta 80 years ago. “Your country has stopped the tyranny of the enemy and defined the future of Europe.” He said Ukraine also needs planes, helicopters and weapons to “destroy the ambitions of the current aggressor, accusing Russia of targeting civilians in Ukraine” and to “stop the tyranny that is happening in Ucraine”.
His video address was followed by brief interventions from the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech. The Maltese Prime Minister declared that altough the conflict is geographically far from Malta, the Maltese will continue to welcome more refugees and will also provide more medical assistance. He added Malta will continue to encouarge all parties to reach a ceasefire agreement and stated that the withdrawel of the Russian troops from the Ukrainian territory is the key to resolving the conflict, followed by dialogue and effective peace talks. On the issue of golden passports, Abela said his government froze applications for Russian and Belarussian citizens, and had also revoked citizenship for a Russian individual who was eventually impacted by the sanctions.
The leader of the Opposition spoke favourably on the issue of the EU membership and declared that when that happens, Ukraine will return home after a long absence. He added “during that absence you will be supported by friends and allies, and consider us one of your friends and allies.” On behalf of the Nationalist Party, Bernard Grech expressed solidarity and declared that this war is a concern to the whole world and not only to Ukraine. He referred to Roberta Metsolàs visit, as European Parliament president, who was the first politician to visit Ukraine and meet with Zelenskyy to show solidarity on behalf of the European Parliament.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – As from today, travellers coming to Malta from any country will no longer need a period of quarantine and they would no longer require to seek authorization from the Maltese health authorities to travel to Malta when arriving from a country was previosly on Maltàs dark red list.
However, those travelling to Malta still need to present a valid vaccine certificate, Covid recovery certificate, or a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival or a negative rapid test taken 24 hours before arrival. In case a person fails to present any of these documents upon arrival, the individual will have to undergo a ten-day mandatory quarantine which is reduced to seven days if a negative test is presented. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne said that Malta is returing to ‘normality’ with responsiblee decisions while urging those aged 65 and over to get their fourth booster shot. According to the Malta Tourism Authority, 1.8 million tourists are expected to visit Malta this year. The prospects for summer are good despite the fact that in the first four months of this year, the Omicron variant led to 400,000 less tourists. The Polish tourism market was the only one which continued to grow during the pandemic. Recently, the Malta Tourism Authority embarked on a new initiative to attract more tourist from Italy by signing a new partnership with EOLO-Kometa, a team of cyclists, who are participating in the Giro d’Italia which finishes at the end of the month in Verona. Through a three-year agreement, the VisitMalta logo will appear on the team’s T-shirts and their means of transport. While in 2019, 440,000 Italian tourists visited Malta, the Malta Tourism Authority is aiming to bring at least 300,000 tourists from Italy.
The President of Malta George Vella who was addressing the newly elected 79 MPs during the official cermony as part of the inauguration of the 14th legislature since Maltàs independence, said that the beginning always brings fresh air, enthusiasm, new energy and dreams for the future. “This will be the spirit of the leadership of this country in this new legislature”. The speech prepared by the government and read out by the President focused on how the last five years had seen Malta become more successful in many areas. President Vella spoke on economic, social and civil rights successes among others altough he reminded the Maltese nation of the challenging moments the country went through. He said Malta has been able to turn a challenge such as the pandemic into an opportunity and that this is the way in which we must work forward. On the war in Ukraine, Vella said that this is another challenge that the Maltese nation is facing. He argued that the Maltese Parliament must send a strong signal that what is being done is unacceptable, reprehensible and should be stopped as soon as possible because the only acceptable way is through dialogue. The President spoke about local challenges that are primarily related to economic pressures. He reminded that last year Malta created more wealth than it was created before the pandemic; when in the rest of the European Union the national wealth is still below what it was in 2019. On the price challenge of essentials such as energy, food and freight, the President of Malta said that the Government is constantly engaged in ongoing discussions and actions to address effectively the impact on the Maltese people. Speaking about investments, Vella explained that the reduction of the business tax should lead to a shift towards more sustainable operations, the creation of more productive jobs and more investment in research and innovation. He also encouraged the need to facilitate access to banking as well as financing. He also said that Malta will continue to strengthen the standards as a country by implementing the recommendations agreed with the Financial Action Task Force. In his speech he also spoke about the quality of life and the importance of protecting the material livelihoods of citizens, especially those iwth low income. He was clear about the 700 million environmental investment and insisted that environmental investment has economic return “because the reality is that if we do not take care of our environment, our economy cannot continue to thrive”. The general election held last March elected the customary 65 seats, which increased by a further two after the Pn was awarded the extra seats to restore proportionality between votes obtained and parliamentary representation. While a further 12 seats – six on each side – were added after the new gender quota mechanism came into force for the first time. Among the incoming Mps, there are 36 new parliamentarians and a total of 22 female Mps. Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela nominated Anglu Farrugia as Speaker of the House for the third time. The nomination was seconded by deputy prime minister Chris Fearne. Prior to the vote, Opposition leader Bernard Grech confirmed that the Opposition would vote against his appointment for the lack of consultation from the government’s side on the nomination and “lack of impartiality shown by Farrugia in the previous legislature.” Maltese Prime Minister Abela criticized the move as “incredible and surreal” and said this shows that “nothing has changed despite the strong mandate given to the Labour Party”. The official ceremony was preceded by a Mass presided over by Archbishop Charles Scicluna. Mgr Scicluna reminded the MPs that honesty, justice, duty and transparency are the essential pillars of society, as he recalled Pope Francis’ first public speech in Malta, delivered during April’s apostolic visit. (ITALPRESS).
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The non-governmental organisation Alarm Phone is appealing to the Maltese authorities to intervene as soon as possible to save 34 migrants who are in distree in the Maltese search and reascue area. The Ngo said the boat was alreday in distress off the Libyan coast, and sought help due to the strong winds and waves. The authorities were informed that the people are at risk of capsizing. Meanwhile, a merchant vessel Berlin Express is reported sailing close to the group of migrants. It was also confirmed that a Frontex aircraft Eagle2 took off from Catania to the position of the vessel, to confirm its position. On Saturday morning, Alarm Phone reported that the people survived the night, however, they could not get on the Berlin Express due to the rough seas, with the NGO condemning the Maltese authorities for not intervening and rescuing the group. (ITALPRESS).
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the Maltese Parliament next Tuesday. This was nnounced by the Speaker of the Maltese Parliament An?lu Farrugia.
Last month, Maltàs foreign affairs minister Ian Borg invited the Ukrainian president to address Maltese MPs during the phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
Farrugia confirmed that preparations are underway and said the Ukrainian president is expected to virtually address Parliament on Tuesday at 4pm.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started over two months ago, Zelenskyy has addressed a number of parliaments including the United States Congress, the UK’s House of Commons, and the European Parliament.
Maltàs Parliament is set to open tomorrow following the 26 March election.
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LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A 32-year-old man from Marsaxlokk was denied bail by a Maltese court following his arrest last Monday while trying to smuggle 4kg of cannabis on a dinghy.
G.C. was arrested by the Malta Police Drug Squad in connection with an operation to stop drug trafficking from Sicily.
The Maltese fisherman was arrested late on Monday evening after the police were following the dinghy’s movements. It was spotted at 7pm and the police surrounded the dinghy as it docked in Delimara, southeast of Malta. The man was in the dinghy and following a search, 4 kg of cannabis were found, with a street value of more than 100,000 dollar. The fisherman had admitted that he occasionally abused from drugs.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Gozo is among 100 European cities to become climate neutral by 2030 as part of ‘Horizon Europè, a programme of some 360 million funded by the European Union.
The aim of the programme is to develop clean mobility, energy efficiency, green urban planning, research and innovation.
377 cities applied from across Europe with small member states such as Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus each receiving one post. Cities chosen include Rome, Paris, Madrid and Munich.
The cities participating in the project have to draw up a Climate City Contract, which will include a plan to achieve climate neutrality across all sectors, including energy, buildings, waste management and transport. The partecipating cities will be held accountable for keeping up with their climate obligations and to better engage with citizens to deliver on their established goals.
The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement.
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