4 - 10 April 2001

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Ambassador believes ‘Erika' will be discussed in France

By Miriam Dunn

The ‘Erika' disaster is likely to be raised during Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami's official visit to France, which got underway yesterday, according to the flamboyant and outspoken French Ambassador, Didier Destremau.

Dr Fenech Adami, who is accompanied by Foreign Affairs minister, Joe Borg and his personal assistant, Richard Cachia Caruana, among others, is set to meet the French President, Jaques Chirac and Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin during the visit. Topics of discussion will include bilateral relations between Malta and France and also Malta's negotiations with the European Union.

Speaking during an interview which appears in this edition of The Business Times, Mr Destremau says that although first reports indicate the recent incident involving yet another Maltese-registered ship – the ‘Balu' - bore no resemblance to the ‘Erika' disaster, it is still an occurrence that the Malta Maritime Authority could have done without.

"…it is most unfortunate for the MMA that once again, it has an accident on its hands," he says.

Mr Destremau, who spoke out very strongly against the MMA and some of the ships under its flag at the time of the ‘Erika' incident, highlights the need for the MMA to co-operate with the international maritime authorities during investigations into the ‘Balu' incident.

"…I believe the most important step for the MMA is to show itself completely willing to make any necessary changes to the ships under its flag, even, if necessary, de-registering any that are unsatisfactory ships," he says.

Various reports relating to the ‘Erika' disaster are still being drawn up, although certain measures have been implemented, while other recommendations are being considered, in the meantime.

The ship sank off coast off Charente Maritime in December 1999, causing environmental damage to the coastline.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt