MALTA DIARY: “Will it……won’t it….? Will she….won’t she….Is CHOGM in the balance?
Malta is facing a tumultuous week which can either hit the heights or may crash with a bang or even not happen at all.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015 is scheduled on the cards for Friday 27th through to Sunday 29th November, the second time in ten years that Malta has been chosen as the host venue following the 2005 gathering also held in Malta.
In Maltese parlance there is a saying that goes “Man may propose – but only God will decide”, a saying that is highly appropriate to fit the current circumstances.
Assuming it will go ahead as man has proposed the whole show will bring together the following countries all of whom have past and present ties to Great Britain:
Botswana; Cameroon; Ghana; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mauritius; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Swaziland; Uganda; United Republic of Tanzania; Zambia
Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; India; Malaysia; Maldives; Pakistan; Singapore; Sri Lanka
CARIBBEAN and AMERICAS
Antigua & Barbuda; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; St Lucia; St Kitts and Nevis; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago
Cyprus; Malta; United Kingdom
Australia; Fiji; Kiribati; Nauru; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu
The event is scheduled to be attended by HM Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, as well as HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, an unusual and resounding tribute to Malta and the Commonwealth countries as whole.
The British royal family has long-standing ties to Malta and Gozo and although over the years some of the affection may have waned, it is still very fondly active among the elderly generations and a great source of curiosity and interest for the younger.
Preparations have been lengthy and labourious down to very minute details, the greatest concern being the whole security aspect of the august gathering.
With the dates drawing nearer the first unscheduled torpedo exploded on Friday the 13th in Paris with the terrorist massacres in the French capital, immediately highlighting the security concern of the combined presence of top British royalty and the great number of Heads of Governments and other Government guests in an area of the Mediterranean which has been a hotbed of immigration invasions of many thousands of people over the last five years.
Things became more complex last week with startling news from nearby Italy. Within 48 hours four Syrians were detained under arrest for possessing false European passports and who were attempting to travel to Malta from airports in Bergamo and Rome. This led to the uncovering of a scam-ploy with the production of false passports enabling non-EU nationals to display EU passports and thus obtain free movement within the Schengen Zone, of which Malta forms the southernmost tip.
Latest reports estimate that since the beginning of the year over 250 Syrians and Somalians have entered the country in this manner because remember – under Schengen rules only outward bound passports may be checked. It is prohibited to check incoming – so they just walk in unhindered on the belief that checks at the other end are thorough and intensive – which they are not!
With the suspension of Schengen and closer inspection of passports, the scam-ploy emerged.
Although so far no direct links have been uncovered between the four Syrians detained and any terrorist organisations, concern was raised because in their mobile ‘phones they all had pictures of fellow Syrians bearing arms, particularly Kalasnikovs and looking very warlike. However, they all explained these were Syrian relatives fighting the Syrian Government and not aligned to any terrorist movements.
Apparently, the basis of the scam is that the passport holders are seeking refugee status and the pictures purporting to be of their “relatives”.
This scam is believed to have been operated by criminals and searches are taking place in Malta for a Somalian said to be behind the scam and the 250 illegal entrants.
Naturally, in view of what has been happening, the Maltese public rocked with alarm causing the country’s Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat to update the country that one could not conclude there were definite terrorist links at this stage.
However, he made it clear that on the first indication that any danger or threat is posed to Malta he would have no hesitation in cancelling CHOGM – and that is the current state of play as I write this.
The questions on everybody’s minds are will it…won’t it and will she….won’t she – a total state of incertitude.
Assuming it will and assuming she will, this year’s Meeting theme agenda is ‘The Commonwealth – adding global value” but even this agenda may be eclipsed by the events since the agenda was agreed. Two weeks ago the EU-African States Summit was held in Malta drawing together leading European heads like Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Francois Hollande and many African heads and all went swimmingly and without a hitch although in my opinion nothing concrete was actually achieved.
The agenda was dominated by the immigrant problem throughout Europe and on the very next day after his return to Paris, Hollande was faced with the terrorist massacres.
If CHOGM does go ahead it will no doubt also be dominated by worldwide immigration problems because this does also affect some of the countries including Australia and Cyprus as well as African states like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Nigeria – country sources of immigrants as well as their having their own border incursions. It will also give the Maltese public the opportunity to see Canada’s new and dishy macho Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau who once knocked out a fellow Canadian Senator in a charity boxing match, against all odds and in which Trudeau was very much classed as being the underdog!
So again, the burning enigma remains…will it…won’t it? Man has proposed, the outcome is in Higher hands!
However, the greatest development from this whole scenario is that Schengen has been the most harmful and deadly provision ever vested on the EU and Europe as a whole. It has failed totally and it has opened doors for EU born terrorists to move around Europe freely and unchallenged.
Never, ever should it be inflicted again and Malta should immediately inform the EU Commission it will no longer form part of Schengen.