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 Labours 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
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 Mintoffs 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 Maltas
aid in its security requirements.
A mere few weeks ago, the EU unveiled a draft of what could become the
EUs security strategy. It could be adopted by the end of the year,
during Berlusconis presidency. One of the first objectives of
the EUs strategy is to contribute to stability and good governance
in the EUs 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 Maltas lot, but Malta must
be able to exploit the opportunities that the EU offers and Maltas
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.