8 JANUARY 2003
By Kurt Sansone
The Prime Minister would not commit himself on whether he intends to wait for the outcome of the Labour Partys general conference at the end of January before deciding on the date for the referendum, when interviewed yesterday by TVM programme Reporter.
Dr Fenech Adami would not reveal the factors that would help him decide when to hold the referendum. But the Prime Minister did tell the programme, which is produced by our sister publication MaltaToday, that he had to assess the conduct of the parliamentary debate that kicks off on Monday 13 January before announcing the date.
When asked whether a 60 per cent turnout would be a convincing result if the Labour Party ordered a boycott, Dr Fenech Adami said that such a turnout with a high Yes majority would convince him. "Technically speaking it is the number of people who vote Yes or No from all those who decide to cast their vote that counts," the Prime Minister said.
Describing the referendum as the peoples expression, Dr Fenech Adami said that politicians had to respect popular will.
Dr Fenech Adami added that the motion to be debated is not a divisive one. Reiterating the contents of the motion, the Prime Minister told the TVM programme that there exists broad agreement between both parties that Europe is key to Maltas economic and social development and that the association agreement signed in 1970 needs to be improved upon. "It is the type of relationship with Europe that there is no agreement upon," Dr Fenech Adami said.
Reflecting on the year that has just come to a close, the Prime Minister described 2002 as a year of big changes. "The changes instilled fear in people, but they happened without creating any turmoil. We have started the year with the same number of registered unemployed as that of last year despite the number of redundancies that occurred in 2002 and the adverse global economic situation."
Asked about his obsession with Europe, the Prime Minister insisted that the European Union was a reality that could not be ignored. Citing regulations on health and safety and the environment as examples of the EUs positive contribution, the Prime Minister said: "The aim of this reality is to improve the standard of living for Europes people. Admittedly, it incurs burdens and a higher expenditure but for the betterment of the people. EU membership would benefit us all, more so our children."