Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr George W. Vella delivers Keynote Speech at Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Common Foreign and Security Policy and on Common Security and Defence Policy

Minister for Foreign affairs Dr George W. Vella delivered a keynote speech at the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Common Foreign and Security Policy and on Common Security and Defence Policy. He also took the floor for an interactive question-and-answer session with the delegates attending the conference.

During this session, Minister Vella discussed several aspects on the theme of the conference raised by the delegates, including the Western Balkans, Russia, Libya, and Syria.

Minister Vella started by acknowledging the sense of concern raised by the delegates about the problems and difficulties that the European Union is facing at the moment, and said that this leads to the question of what the member countries should have done to avoid coming to the present situation – problems that unfortunately are multiplying, and are not being resolved. Minister Vella said that there is no quick and effective solution to these problems. The Minister stated that he is also concerned because he feels that there is a creeping sense of division amongst member countries on certain issues and on certain stands, highlighting migration as one example.

The Minister said that on migration, member countries are absolutely divided on the internal aspect of migration, although a certain amount of unanimity was shown on the external aspect of migration, which the Minister commended. The Minister said that this issue cannot be ignored, and that the EU has to provide for legal migration as a safety valve for young migrants to be given a chance to survive and savour what democracy is all about.

Minister Vella turned to the most-mentioned situation by the delegates, the Western Balkans, and said that he noted that there were more concerns raised on the Western Balkans than the South. The Minister said that it was frustrating when the EU was dealing with the Ukraine problem but at the same time, there was no ear lent to the worsening problem in Libya. Minister Vella said that it took quite some time to convince the EU countries from the North to accept, but also acknowledge, that the EU was not only facing the Ukraine, but also the Libya, problem. The Minister said that the threats besieging the EU from the South are migration, jihadism, terrorism, and instability.

Minister Vella also spoke about EU constraints, foremost amongst which is that the EU is not a military alliance, and cannot take military decisions; the EU’s observance of International Rules of Law, and respecting the national sovereignty of the countries that the EU is dealing with. Minister Vella also mentioned the lack of fulfilment of the many United Nations Security Council resolutions, coming from the situation of the veto. The Minister said that this leads to the need for a Security Council reform, which has now been going on for more than the last 20 years.

Minister Vella said that when it comes to how one should solve the problems facing the EU, looking at the Southern part, it points to the issue of development, which is a huge commitment by the European Union. However, the development and security nexus is something that has to be kept in mind, especially when it comes to Africa. Speaking about EU-Russia relations, Minister Vella said that this is a sensitive issue, and that a peaceful solution is much needed for the benefit of the two sides.

Concluding, Minister Vella said that the EU has to give much more importance to the Southern region, especially to Libya, with the situation in the country deteriorating, and which can worsen at any given moment. The Minister acknowledged that migration is a problem when dealing with Libya. However, he said that there is much more than migration. Libya will eventually cry out for stability, reconciliation, and most importantly, reconstruction. The Minister said that if Libya is not helped in these aspects, the EU will continue to feel the effects of the instability of the country, affecting not only the Southern region, but also the EU.

Source: Government of Malta