The pertinent rules of the game

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 December, 2023 at 11:25 am by Andre Camilleri

Last week I submitted my nomination for the European Parliament elections with the PL. As I reiterated in my previous article, one of the reasons to put my name in the list of candidates relates to my past inability to assist in improving people’s lives throughout the time I spent in Brussels. Notwithstanding that I did whatever it took to safeguard Malta’s national interests, still, the nature of the work did not allow me enough flexibility to cross certain boundaries and do more for the vulnerable and those in need.

True, the rules of the game are now different. Certainly, I need to carefully thread the minefield. Surely, I need to ascertain that whatever I do it is in Malta’s best interests. Whether we are in Council or in the European Parliament, the two co-legislators, the responsibility falls on those who represent the country. The way we behave is crucial. However, I must underline that the rules of the game are not always the same for everyone. Some may be given a little more advantage. Others may be attempting to make a kerfuffle out of trivial issues to gain preferential treatment. Well, what I can say is that I never whinged, and I just concentrated on my work. However, when people take a difficult decision, even to control the system, it is them who are to pay the ultimate price and not those who are suffering the injustice.

The rules of the game are usually set by others for others. And momentarily we have to adhere to them. Last year, on 24November, I wrote an article describing what I would be doing. However, many did not comprehend the content of the article and what I said about the rules of the game including the accompanying innuendos. What I can say is that the rules of the game are often unfairly imposed on others because of personal issues. However, they may be actually necessary in politics to achieve results. What my grandmother always told me is to not do harmful deeds because one day, “ġebel ma’ ġebel jiltaqa”. Even when rules are imposed through a UN Security Council Resolution, they are not necessarily implemented and are left on paper. Sincerely, I hope that the UN is not weakened because targeted countries ignore its resolutions under international law.

Last week, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, warning that a deepening catastrophe is occurring in Gaza. Guterres called on the Security Council to act swiftly to allow humanitarian access. He brought to the attention of the Security Council the dire situation in Gaza that risks threatening the maintenance of international peace and security within the region. Secretary General Guterres has been calling for an immediate ceasefire for the past two months, whereby he also described the shocking human suffering, the destruction of Palestinian territories and loss of lives. For those who are not familiar with what Article 99 implies; it provides special independent political powers to the Secretary General to issue warning on the international threat of peace and security. In response, the Security Council member of the UAE posted in a public mention the new draft resolution to the council calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Additionally, the foreign affairs council discussed the situation in Gaza. The HRVP Josep Borrell submitted an options paper to the foreign ministers on the stabilisation of Gaza. The High Representative explained that the situation in Gaza reached an apocalyptical catastrophe leading to an exceptional number of civilian casualties since the beginning of October. This is creating an unprecedented challenge to the international community to deal with the health system in Gaza. The ministry of health in Gaza reported that the number of victims tolled to 19,000 while over 80% of the population is internally displaced. Furthermore, during last Monday’s foreign affairs council, the agenda discussed, among other items, the situation in Armenia. The Foreign Affairs Council agreed that as a first step of increasing cooperation, the EU’s CSDP mission in Armenia must increase its presence on the ground with additional personnel.

Understandably, foreign ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine, and the way the EU can further assist, particularly after the USA requested such assistance. The agreement is to support Ukraine in progressing its war against Russia’s aggression. Whether the agreement seeks additional measures in military assistance, we still need to see. However, assisting with military equipment, in times of dire economic conditions, in my opinion, is creating a problem on the eve of the European Parliament elections. People are utterly exhausted listening to the negative news. The war in Ukraine has been normalised. If I had to bet whether the war in Ukraine will outpace Josep Borrell’s term in office, I hasten to say that it will.

Besides the military discussion, foreign ministers touched upon Ukraine’s accession path and the crucial reforms required, with some already delivered by the Ukrainian authorities. Frankly, I am not sure why foreign ministers discussed Ukraine’s accession. It is not their remit. It is the remit of other council formats. The European Union leaders will be taking a decision today and tomorrow about Ukraine’s future. Personally, I do not agree to rush the decision, simply because there are actors leading the EU institutions who are pushing in such a direction. We must assess the risks on the EU’s economy, political and military stability internally and externally, as well as the future of the EU’s security beyond accession even at OSCE level.

At times, I feel that rules are being simplified to the point of absurdity. The complexity behind the accession, and the military situation in Ukraine, will be altering the rules if they are accepted. That is why I started this article by stating that rules are craftily designed by others for others. Notwithstanding that I am in favour of assisting Ukraine, in defending its territory, however, accelerating accession is not in Ukraine’s and the EU’s interest. The reason is that an entire continent is likely to be dragged into a conflict with other countries. In my humble opinion Ukraine’s accession should be attached to the security of Europe and that of Ukraine itself. The peace negotiations must guarantee Ukraine’s security even at higher level of talks perhaps as part of the peace formula. Ukraine’s security must be guaranteed by Europe once it joins the EU, which is natural under the treaty. We require flexibility in our future bargaining negotiations attached to the peace formula. And that is distinct from the transatlantic security guarantee, because it would fall under Articles 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty.

In conclusion, that’s why the rules are not always fairly distributed because some have waited a lifetime to join accession talks under normal circumstances.

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