We must defend our Europe

In 2003, we opted to join the European Union in a referendum and an election dominated by the question of membership. Our decision at the time also answered a deeper set of questions: what is Malta’s place in the world? Do we actively participate in the development of European history or do we stand on the sidelines?

We are being faced with this very set of fundamental questions today.

Our response will be as fateful as it was in 2003. I call on you to reconfirm our commitment to our European identity on March 26.

Vladimir Putin has unleashed the largest military invasion in Europe since 1945. Putin wants to establish an authoritarian empire on our continent. Like him, there are others who ultimately want to hobble and control Europe.

Putin’s invasion has brought a heightened awareness of the risks that we face as free and democratic countries.

A fundamental reassessment is under way in all major European capitals on how we deal with these risks and defend ourselves.

We have all witnessed the immediate political response of the European Union. The package of measures (including sanctions) announced by the EU and its partners is already having a direct impact on Putin’s regime.

However, there are areas where the EU is not legally empowered to respond. Instead, the response will need to be determined by the individual member states, including Malta. One such area of responsibility is citizenship.

For years, Malta has sold citizenship to the highest bidder. Applicants range from countries which can neither be described as free nor democratic. It is estimated that nearly half of the applicants hail from Russia and China.

We have been in opposition to the scheme since day one. We are pleased to finally see both the PL and the PN recognise the inherent risks of the scheme. Malta’s decision to suspend the sale of passports to buyers from Russia and Belarus is an admission that the scheme is open to abuse.

However, we must go further. We must be aware that the scheme is open to foreign spies to enter and travel throughout Europe without trace. Without very tight collaboration with all major intelligence organisations, it is impossible to know whether a seemingly innocent buyer is actually a foreign agent.

If we keep the passport sale scheme, we will ultimately keep a door open to Europe which we are unable to guard properly. Is this what we really want? Do we really want to undermine Europe, our freedom and our democracies for the sake of profit?

I sincerely hope both the PL and the PN finally agree with our call to shut down the scheme. In the past week we all made great progress in realising the very tangible risks of the scheme. We must build on this progress.

I wish to see the PL and the PN stand together with us on the side of Europe and against easy profit. Let us all reaffirm our commitment to Europe.

In 2003, we chose to join Europe because we wanted to take an active part in shaping the future of our continent. We wanted a seat at the table. Today, we are being called to take our responsibility as a European partner, not shirk away from it.

Matthew Mizzi
ADPD Executive Committee Member
Published In The Times of Malta – Saturday 19 March 2022