PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Malta makes concrete proposals to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking in the Mediterranean – Foreign Minister Vella at the Foreign Affairs Council Meeting in Brussels

During a discussion on migration at the Foreign Affairs Council, Minister Vella recalled the positive outcome of the Senior Officials Meeting held in Valletta in February and the resulting adoption of Joint Conclusions. The meeting, which served as a follow up to the Valletta Summit that Malta hosted in November 2015, offered a platform for open discussions, identified areas where more progress is required and took stock of the progress being registered. In recalling the outcomes of the Informal European Council Meeting, also held in Malta in February, Minister Vella also underlined the sensitive migration scenario on the Central Mediterranean Route and the importance of helping Libya control its land and sea borders.

Minister Vella referred specifically to the need to further disrupt the business models of human smugglers and traffickers. He noted that there still remains room for improvement in legislation when it comes to controlling the transfer of certain equipment to countries such as Libya which could end up being used by smugglers and traffickers, like outboard motors and rubber dinghies. Minister Vella suggested possible legislative proposals to address these shortfalls concertedly.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry joined Foreign Ministers for an informal discussion over lunch. Minister Vella spoke about Egypt’s geo-political importance and the role it has to play in the region, and referred to the efforts undertaken by Egypt to reconcile the differences between rival factions in Libya. Minister Vella also highlighted the fact that Egypt has taken a constructive role in the Middle East Peace Process and that it shares a common vision with the EU, that of a two-state solution. Malta will continue to actively support closer relations with Egypt on a bilateral level, but also within regional structures such as the Union for the Mediterranean.

During the discussion on the Western Balkans, Minister Vella briefed his counterparts about his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina in February and said that this was a very good opportunity to discuss directly with the political leadership of the country the progress make and challenges encountered along the path to European integration. He reported to the other Ministers, that all interlocutors he met during the visit confirmed their visions that the country’s future lies in Europe.

Earlier in the day, Minister Vella participated in a joint Ministerial Session with the Ministers of Defence and highlighted the need for the EU to start taking a more active role in ensuring its own security and stated that Member States have very compelling reasons to contribute to their own collective security.

Minister Vella also chaired an EU-Kyrgyz Republic Cooperation Council Meeting.

Source: Government of Malta