‘Economic cooperation is the way to address immigration challenges’, Prime Minister says in Rome

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Last Updated on Monday, 24 July, 2023 at 9:39 am by Andre Camilleri

Prime Minister Robert Abela was among several world leaders to converge in Italy’s capital on Sunday for an international conference on the immigration situation in the Mediterranean Sea.

At the conference, Abela spoke in favour of the work done between the countries of origin of these immigrants, the transit countries, and ultimately the destination countries for these immigrants.

He said that things must come to a point where the immigration question is better handled through sustainable economies.

Abela was one of a number of world leaders from European Union countries, Africa, other Mediterranean countries, and Arab gulf countries who met in Palazzo della Farnesina in Rome on Sunday, together with representatives from international organisations and leaders of European institutions.

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Abela said that we need to look at Africa as an equal partner to Europe so to have economic cooperation which is based around respect.

He referred to and praised the initiative of Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to organise and host the conference and put economic cooperation with countries further afield of Europe, including in Africa, on the agenda.

Abela said that this is in conformity with the position that Malta has consistently pushed when it comes to the topic of immigration.

Abela remarked that there has to be a clear and collective message against human trafficking, particularly in the face of the ugly realities in the Mediterranean where vulnerable people have lost their lives.

“This is a moral obligation for all of us,” Abela said as he addressed the other leaders in the first session of the conference.  He also said that the repatriation of people who do not qualify for asylum must be done in a safe and efficient manner.

Abela said that an environmental heart must be tied to economic cooperation between different countries, and that this must be done in partnership with the private sector in order to facilitate the economic transition which will ultimately create more quality jobs and opportunities for those who today see irregular immigration has the only road.

“There can be no development for the better without peace and security, and peace and security will not come if there isn’t quality development,” Abela said.

Abela referred to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and said that the Covid-19 pandemic should not stop the implementation of these aims or work on larger challenges such as climate change.

He said that the reality is that countries which contributed the least to global warming are the ones most negatively affected by climate change, adding that countries from different continents had come together in the Valletta Summit in 2015 and that a similar united front with open dialogue to address the seriousness of the immigration question is needed today.

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At the end of the conference, leaders agreed on a number of conclusions including those about the founding of the ‘Rome Process’ – an important framework for the implementation of collective work in favour of stability and economic development, while addressing the immigration question from its roots while also keeping in mind the implementation of the obligations declared in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Abela was accompanied by government backbencher Cressida Galea.

On the margins of the conference, Abela also met Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

With Dbeibah, Abela spoke about the most recently agreement signed between Malta and Libya which paves the way for interconnection between the two countries for renewable energy, noting that the technical discussions for its implementation are now important.

With Ahmed, Abela said that he looked forward to the implementation of what was discussed in a bilateral meeting in Malta in the past few months, mentioning the aviation agreement which was signed between Malta and Ethiopia.

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