15 May 2004

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MEP candidates face-off at University

AEGEE-Valletta, in collaboration with the European Parliament Information Office in Valletta, concluded the second half of a two-debate awareness campaign yesterday morning. The campaign was launched last Tuesday when foreign officials of the European Parliament addressed the students in the first debate entitled Europe: Your Vote … Your Parliament.
Yesterday morning’s debate was highly successful with a great number of students present. The event commenced with a press conference held by the Presidents of the main student organisations involved in the lay up for the June elections: AEGEE-Valletta, SDM, Pulse, Greenhouse and KSU.
This was immediately followed by the debate. The speakers present were Joe Friggieri, Roberta Tedesco Triccas and Simon Busuttil from the Nationalist Party; Louis Grech, Owen Bonnici and Wenzu Mintoff from the Malta Labour Party; Arnold Cassola from the Green Party, and Damian Iwueke who is an independent candidate. Professor Peter G. Xuereb chaired the debate.
The debate started off by Owen Bonnici appealing to the students to vote and to join the socialist wave. His views were that the socialist party could do a lot for youngsters and people in general.
Simon Busuttil spoke next, stating that whilst he agrees that students should vote using their head, at the end of the day, the students know what to do. He continued by saying that we must have one aim: to make our entry into the European Union a successful one. He believes that no party has an automatic right to our vote – the party must earn it. Simon Busuttil then outlined his reasons as to why people should vote for candidates from the Nationalist Party. These reasons included that all candidates from the Nationalist Party were learned about the European Union and are capable of representing our interests. He also argued that in order for the candidates elected to the European Parliament to be effective, they must form part of the strongest political party in the European Union.
Arnold Cassola spoke next and gave a strong speech condemning the Nationalist Party of scaremongering. This later triggered off a debate with Simon Busuttil towards the end of the session. Cassola also stated that this was the first election where candidates will be elected from one district. He also stated that the European Parliament was a parliament made up of seven parties, and that it was a parliament of “Give and Take” compared to the normal parliament of “Winner Takes it All”. Wenzu Mintoff agreed with Cassola on the issue regarding scaremongering by the Nationalist Party and his speech attacking the party was quite a contrast to Owen Bonnici’s less partisan speech.
Joe Friggieri started his talk with a statement “Fl-Ewropa kullhadd jaqbillu”. This statement was greeted with much enthusiasm. However he then also stated that “without being partisan one must realise that had it been up to the Malta Labour Party, Malta would not be where it is today and 1 May would never have been a reality. He then asked this question: “What would have happened to Malta if it had been the only one not to join the European Union, when in today’s world many non-EU countries are knocking at its doors begging to come in?” He further continued by saying that we must try to take advantage of the great opportunities that the European Union can offer us and said that when people come to deciding who to vote for, they should think of the people who worked so hard to give them what they have today.
Damian Iwueke claimed that his campaign would address minority issues such as the rights of women, gay rights, xenophobia and racism. He stated that people were bugged of the typical political parties that adopted the “Do as I say but not as I do” attitude, where they tell you what you want to hear and once they’re elected into power they forget the people that voted for them. He ended his speech by appealing to people to not judge him for what they see him as but for what he can actually do, and said that his slogan from now on would be “Why not?” in reply to those people who asked others why they were voting for him.
Louis Grech spoke next, stating that the Malta Labour Party is democratic precisely because once Malta is in the European Union it is putting forward its own candidates to stand for election to the European Parliament and this shows acceptance and democracy. He claimed that the Labour Party wants the European Union and for this to happen the candidates elected must be effective and capable of contributing to making it work.
Roberta Tedesco Triccas spoke last, saying that one thing that AEGEE has always managed to do is to bring the two sides of the political spectrum together and that there is no need for the Nationalist Party and the Malta Labour Party to attack each other. Tedesco Triccas said that she decided to go out as a candidate on the Nationalist Party’s behalf, because she believes that our membership in the European Union must be a successful one. She also said that the PPE (Partit Popolari Europew) had always helped the Nationalist Party to make ‘Malta in the European Union’ a reality. She then with Simon Busuttil in saying that the people elected to the European Parliament need to be effective and strong, and that this can only happen if we are part of the strongest party in the European Union. She ended by saying that we need to focus on after 12 June.
The above candidates by having spoken their view and ideals then gave the students a chance to evaluate their choice and take a decision. Nevertheless, the large turnout of students on Campus today showed that students are truly aware of the importance of the European Parliament and the upcoming elections.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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