PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella delivers keynote speech at the conclusion of the LVII COSAC Meeting

Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella delivered a keynote speech at the LVII COSAC (Committees of Foreign and European Affairs of EU Member States and Candidate Countries) at the concluding day of this meeting. An interesting debate followed, during which representatives of the countries participating in the meeting put forward their thoughts and opinions on this morning’s theme, Combatting Human Smuggling and Trafficking and Establishing a Humane and Effective Return and Readmission Policy.

Following the debate, Minister Vella took the floor to comment about the points raised. The Minister said that the interesting discussion showed the united concern from all the countries about the theme of this morning’s session.

However, Minister Vella said that from the representations put forward, little distinction was made between the two forms of migrants that the EU is facing. Minister Vella emphasised that a distinction has to be made between migrants coming from Africa and Eastern refugees. About the former, Minister Vella said that migration from Africa will not stop, even when considering the millions of Africans migrating from one African country to another. Eastern refugees on the other hand might decrease if a solution is found for Syria.

Minister Vella remarked that all EU member states should stand united in whatever problem the EU is facing. The Minister continued by saying that this is the essence of the European Union. There should be an effective solidarity between the countries forming the EU, Minister Vella said; on the issues of migration, there are still countries which are not ready to budge from their position. The Minister said that whilst understanding the position of these countries, there are still ways and means for all countries to come together and solve this issue.

Speaking about detention centres, Minister Vella said that one should also look at how migrants held at these centres are faring. The Minister said that there are about 34 detention centres in Libya, and the UNHCR only has access to about 15, whilst, according to reports received, the situation in the other centres is shocking and inhumane, with continuous reports of rapes, beatings and killings illustrating the sad condition prevailing in these centres.

Dealing with the suggestion of hot spots in Africa, Minister Vella said that this is not an easy task in this continent. Citing the reasons he had just brought forward, Minister Vella said that hot spots in Libya are definitely difficult to achieve.

Source: Government of Malta