Malta Diary “The lamps are going out all over Europe…..” yet again!
On the eve of the First World War (1914-1918) British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, sadly remarked to a close friend “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.
During the last 30 days, in 55 years of following world and current events I have never experienced a prediction as true as this when referring to Europe’s situation as it stands today.
Malta geographically stands at the most southern point in Europe and the most southern point in the EU. But during these past 30 days North, South, East and West Europe has been turned upside down in a sea of turmoil which knows no end and borders on a calamitous implosion.
Just six months ago, economically powerful Germany – aided by their “bosom pals” France – were dictating this and that to the rest of Europe, and indeed the world, looking down on their southern brothers in Greece, Italy, Spain and probably Malta, in deep disdain and distrust because the European northerners always look at the southern areas of Europe with suspicion and distrust – in some cases justified!
The immigrant problem of Europe was being kept at arm’s length because those down south were responsible for dealing with it.
Then, the tables dramatically turned. The phalanx of the invasion suddenly switched almost totally to Greece which was overwhelmed in a few days – but that was just a stepping stone. The real goal was to reach Germany and spread further north.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was magnanimous, determined to show the southerners how Teutonic efficiency deals with such trivialities and committed to knowing that if she rattled the chain, all other EU countries would have to follow suit.
“Willkommen, willkommen to Germany” she announced, “all are welcome”, thus ignoring the sound advice of British PM David Cameron that laying down the doormat would encourage many, many thousands of others to make the great crossing – which is what happened. In the space of a few days Europe had to deal with a virtual invasion running into hundreds of thousands – and that is where the chain broke and failed to rattle.
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic put their foot down and said “nein, nein Fräulein!” and refused the ploy that the mass invasion could be dispersed throughout the EU.
As an added complication Germany, albeit too late, suddenly realised that what had been a massive southern problem had now become their problem thanks to Merkle’s welcoming signals. Borders were instantly closed and bye bye to Schengen for the moment and hence bye bye to a cornerstone of EU “fraternity”.
As if this had not made Germany reel enough, the great Volkswagen scandal hit the world and delivered a mighty blow to the concept of German efficiency, trust and reliability. It’s not raining for Merkel, it’s pouring down in buckets and within the space of a month, Europe’s top dog was reduced to cowering.
VW may be a commercial and not a political matter even though it has heaped economic turmoil on Germany, however, the political implications of immigration and EU disintegration are far, far, more wide-ranging and politically damaging – particularly as the recent EU Summit failed to really reach long-term solutions and underlined deep EU fractures.
Malta has agreed to tow the majority EU line to accept its percentage of immigrants because it really has no other choice. The country has done well through the use of EU funds for a number of important projects and I will not call this a source of blackmail, but certainly if Malta were to any way object or refuse to accept its quota, the matter of continued funding would surely be raised.
The lamps may be going out in Europe yet Malta is busily extinguishing its own lamps – and much of the country is up in arms! The problem around here nowadays is not that of illegal immigrants but people who are being allowed to enter the country legally – and not necessarily from EU countries where it is obligatory to accept them.
A recent report in “The Times of Malta” questioned how and why residence permits issued to Libyan citizens had shot up by 444% between 2012 and 2014. Similarly, although not on such a large scale, residence permits to Russian citizens over the same period had increased by 204%. Figures further show that a number of other non-EU nationals have been issued with residence permits over the same period, including Serbs, Ukrainians and Filipinos.
Simultaneously, a racket in the issue of such permits is being investigated by the Malta Police and a number of arrests have been made because there are strong indications and allegations that a great number of permits have been issued in exchange for money. Indeed, a Libyan website has been advertising the sale of such permits for considerable amounts of money.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat commented that this racket stretches back over the last five years (he became PM in 2013) and has asked the Police to launch widespread investigations.
Add all these to the 10,000 illegal immigrants calculated to have landed in Malta over the last ten years and many more thousands of EU citizens from Sicily, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania and many other countries from which emerges a disquieting picture that the country is awash with non-Maltese nationals.
Why Malta? Many of the Libyans are ex-Gaddaffi sympathisers and bring with them loads of cash. The Russians are loaded too and run around in Mercedes Benz’s and BMW’s and have set up various businesses.
As for the rest? Malta’s economy is doing well; employment is almost full and the black economy is thriving with the construction industry, cleaning services, hotels and restaurants teeming with non-Maltese nationals and currently enjoying a business bonanza. Steps are now being taken to curb this black economy.
Well, the Maltese and Gozitans are certainly not happy particularly as there has been a substantial increase in violent crime and thefts. Nationals also commit criminality and Kordin Prison is overflowing with Maltese and Gozitan “guests” These are being heavily augmented by an increase of Poles, Bulgarians, Albanians, Romanians and East European nationals found guilty of burglary, pick-pocketing, shop-lifting, drug-pushing and a variety of other crimes.
Recently the Police arrested five Eastern Europeans, two men from Georgia, a man from Poland, a man from Lithuania and a woman from Kyrgyztan and charged them with a spate of burglaries and thefts and later Police announced they were members of an international crime ring that is widespread throughout Europe.
Things do not look good and the lamps are flickering….