PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Malta’s involvement in Libyan Coastguard training to start shortly

Malta pledged to start contributing actively to the training of the Libyan Navy Coast Guard, said Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela. Discussions on Malta’s role at the technical level have been held over the past weeks.

The Minister was addressing a panel discussion, under the theme ‘The Migration Challenge and Strengthening Internal Solidarity in the EU’, on Friday 11th November 2016, in Valletta, as part of a Pre-Presidency Conference organised by the Trans-European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA), in collaboration with the University of Malta’s Institute for European Studies.

Operation Sophia is the EU’s military contribution to the European comprehensive approach, which aims at disrupting the business model of human smugglers and traffickers, and saving lives in Southern-Central Mediterranean. To further enhance the operation’s ability to disrupt the trafficking and smuggling networks, last June, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council decided to add two supporting tasks to the mandate, allowing it to contribute effectively to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy and the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.

Outlining Malta’s position on the European Commission’s legislative package proposal aimed at reforming the Common European Asylum System, the Minister said that the migration crisis forced EU member states to work closely together in a field where, in the past, they had been keen to act on their own. He added that, succeeding to agree on a comprehensive, durable policy based on a genuine sense of solidarity has become a credibility test for both the EU and its constituent member states. During its upcoming Presidency of the EU, Malta will strive to help reach such consensus, he said.

Minister Abela remarked that Malta is not only preaching the need for internal solidarity, but is also leading by example. The island is, in proportion to its capacity, taking in its share of migrants from Italy and Greece, which are both under a lot of pressure and therefore need to be shown solidarity. Furthermore, AFM personnel are saving lives at sea practically every day. In the meantime, the number of asylum applications lodged in Malta has risen by 33% in 2015, compared to the previous year. Between January and September this year, the number of first applications submitted reached 1,261, mainly from asylum seekers of Libyan and Eritrean nationalities.

The panel discussion was chaired by Secretary General of TEPSA, Professor Jaap de Zwaan. Also taking part were MEPs Marlene Mizzi and Roberta Metsola, and Joanna Darmanin from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

Source: Government of Malta.