05 November 2003

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Toon this week: Hub Malta - East meets West

The times they are a-changin’

Times change. There is no doubt about it. Both our large political parties have changed through most of the colours of the rainbow, mostly for the better, with occasional setbacks.
During the sixteen years of Labour government between 1971 and 1986, the PN was highly critical of Labour’s honeymooning with North Korea, China, Cuba and Angola among others.
The PN could not stand that the Malta government was associating and even receiving aid from countries that were dictators and worse than that communist.
China is now going through a process of gradual trade liberalisation, but it has by no means become a democracy.
When Chinese uniformed arrived in Malta workers on Mintoff’s request there was no end to Nationalist ridicule. The workers were described as bringing their meals with them.
Since then the iron curtain has fallen, and Malta cannot be considered to be living under some sort of semi-dictatorship, but the government seems to feel comfortable about stretching its ethics somewhat.
The not so miserly donation of Lm500,000 worth of armaments to the Armed Forces of Malta, would have, as Lino Spiteri very correctly pointed out in a recent article, brought fire and brimstone out of the Nationalists of the time had the donation been made under a Labour government.
Questions can justifiably be asked about whether the soldiers in our armed forces need a Kalashnikov rifle each, whether these could be stolen and used for criminal activities and why our army feels the need for anti tank weapons and rocket launchers, but the PN in government has shown us that its royal blue is apt to turn bright pink if the offer is considered advantageous.
Who are our real friends?
The generous donation of the Chinese government begs the questions as to why, our most recent group of friends, the EU, has not come to Malta’s aid in its security requirements.
A mere few weeks ago, the EU unveiled a draft of what could become the EU’s security strategy. It could be adopted by the end of the year, during Berlusconi’s presidency. One of the first objectives of the EU’s strategy is to contribute to stability and good governance in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. According to the strategy, the EU will seek to secure its borders. That security would involve both good governance and improved civilian and military capabilities.
Lm500,000 is less than a drop in the ocean for our EU soon to be ‘compatriots’.
EU membership is expected to improve Malta’s lot, but Malta must be able to exploit the opportunities that the EU offers and Malta’s representatives should also pull their weight in making an argument that the EU should do its part to assist Malta.
Already hopes of a windfall of funds from our northern neighbours have been toned down. The Maltese authorities must be vigilant to ensure that this country has the resources available to apply for EU funds where then these are made available. Our government should make its case that it is entering into a two-way agreement with the Union and put strong arguments forward when it believes the EU should help.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail