5 JUNE 2002
Toni Abela presents his arguments against European integration and expresses his concerns about NATO
In a rambling interview that that took in its sweep the double and interchangeable identities of the EU, NATO, Maltas economic progress since 1964, innuendoes and other machinations, Dr Abela revealed why he is against joining the EU.
Dr Abela said if the government had no contingency plan and was depending solely on joining the EU for economic salvation, then the government was acting irresponsibly. He said that at least the Labour party had an alternative option.
He said that he felt the CNI would agree with him if he said that Malta could serve as a platform for financial services for neighbouring countries. He said that the government had tried to promote Malta as a hub for financial services, as a place, which could offer more refined tourist services, and as a catchment area for the business which had left Lebanon and Yugoslavia. Whether anything had been accomplished or not was another matter again.
Dr Abela said that since 1964 Maltas economy had grown on a very important principle; that the country was not part of a military block. We had the power to attract foreign investment and the tourism sector had grown, because tourists visit areas which are trouble free. We thrived off peace and we have a constitution that specifies that we have to actively seek peaceful politics.
Dr Abela said that his position regarding the EU was that he was against joining the EU as it was configured today. He reiterated that the EU was not being forged by the citizens in the street. There is no sense of democracy and the people who are evolving it are removed from reality. He said that the present European Convention was a witness to failure. This failure has two aspects; first that fewer and fewer people are turning out to vote for the European Parliament. Secondly in the last seven or eight years no referendum was won by who was in favour of the EU as happened in Denmark or Ireland.
Another reason for Dr Abelas opposition to the EU was that the EU and NATO were becoming blurred. He cited as an example the recent proposal that NATO becomes one of the incorporated structures within the EU.
He said that the very people who were keen at the inception of the EEC say that they did not expect things to develop the way they did and that nobody consulted them.
Dr Abela said that he believed there should be a referendum about the EU. The problem as he saw it would be if the referendum were held before an election and came up with a positive verdict and a short time later a general election would return a Labour government to power with a clear mandate not to join the EU.
Excerpts from an nterview given by Dr Toni Abela in IVA monthly newspaper, Perspettiva