When time is of essence

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March, 2023 at 6:41 pm by Andre Camilleri

Today week, I lost my father to a terminal illness. It has been a tough period for him and for the family. Sadly, the prognosis came too late, and there was nothing we can scientifically do other than making him comfortable. Surely, it was not easy to manage a fulltime employment, spend as much time as possible with him and retain any extracurricular day-to-day appointments without missing on deadlines, including the writing of this weekly column.

Indeed, we spent enough time together to touch upon different topics. In one of our evening chats, I asked my dad how he would handle any backstabber. The first thing he asked was whether I was referring to immediate family or acquaintances. What we discussed is now buried with him. Obviously, those mentioned in our frank discussions are not going to be cited publicly. He told me that there is a time to keep silence and a time to speak, so I advise you to keep mum for as long as it is needed. On the latter, for the time being, I took his advice. However, I might partially open up about it in the coming weeks and months. Nevertheless, I am observing the correct timing to depict the real perspective to those who are pushing the boundaries inaptly.

Later, it dawned on me that there is time for everything under heaven. Whether one is a believer or not, it is a matter of personal choice. In effect, I used Kohelet’s passage for my dad’s funeral service and seized the opportunity to send a message to those present for the service. A line in the passage reads that there is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. Indeed, we took care of our father until the last day, so he was clearly plucking what he sowed over the years. We tried to make him as comfortable as possible and took care of him, as much as he cared for us.

Clearly, this applies also to the current political arena. Undoubtedly, we are plucking what we sowed in the past months. Indeed, we are not at a time for peace but at a time for war at the current political juncture, and surely in politics one can expect the unexpected. Last week we learnt that the International Criminal Court (ICC), issued arrest warrants for President Vladimir Putin. Initially, the ICC, was pondering whether to keep the arrest warrants under wraps. However, the ICC decided to make them public, in an attempt to deter additional crimes being committed. Indeed, children mustn’t be weaponised in the act of war. Au contraire, we must advocate for the protection of children in any armed conflict. Also, it is a priority for Malta’s Presidency of the UNSC and pronouncing ourselves for the protection of children is fundamentally right and the correct political approach.

Professionally, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Dr Karim Kahn, is a British lawyer with generous experience in international human rights law, as well as international criminal law. The arrest warrants came after a UN Report, which stated that there is enough evidence that Moscow forced the removal of Ukrainian children to areas under its control, which clearly amount to a war crime. It is important to mention that Vladimir Putin is the third president in the world to be issued with an ICC arrest warrant. Notwithstanding that Russia is not party to the treaty, however, it can affect the travelling and movement of President Vladimir Putin. The court in The Hauge has no authority over Russian territory, but Mr. Putin can be arrested if he enters any of the court’s 130 member states. Undoubtedly, it does not augur well from a diplomatic point of view.

What we are currently experiencing is a war escalation. Whether it is a remote-control war, with UAVs or long-range missiles on the ground, one must bear in mind that the escalation will be altering the way we used to live. Besides, Poland and Slovakia pledged the donation of fighter jets to wrestle Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Indeed, last week, Slovakia’s government approved the donation of a fleet of thirteen Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets. Both NATO countries responded to the Ukrainian government’s pleas for warplanes to help defend its territory. Clearly, the timing for the ramping up of military production, as well as military donations is of essence. We will be seeing a war of attrition in the coming weeks and months. It is going to get really messy!

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Ministers met in a JUMBO format, a joint meeting with the Ministers of Defence, in Brussels. The outcome of the meeting sees additional pledges of assistance to Ukraine, and the production of ammunitions. The approved amount for the reimbursements from the European Peace Facility totals to € 2 billion. Prior to leaving the press conference the High Representative outlined that additional financial needs are required and touted the idea that a further €3.5 billion are needed to replenish the European Peace facility.

Unquestionably, the repercussions of the war in Ukraine are sending negative shockwaves around the globe. At least, last weekend it was agreed to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which saw great diplomatic efforts by Turkey and the United Nations to renew the agreement. The shortage and sluggish supply of grain is exacerbating the global food crisis, and it is contributing to additional hardships around the world, including the MENA region.

Indeed, a point on the agenda of the Council meeting discussed the dire situation in Tunisia. On the same day the EU, the African Union, and the United Nation met in a tripartite taskforce format to push for urgent action to tackle the needs of migrants and refugees currently stranded in Libya. Geographically, Tunisia is a neighbouring country to Libya, but is also a close partner of the EU. Unquestionably, what happens in Tunisia and Libya, bears a direct impact on Europe’s security, as it creates additional instability in the MENA region and in the Mediterranean.

Clearly, we are heading towards tough times. The EU is ramping up its military production, the ECB announced a further increase in the interest rates and at the same time inflation is still high relative to the monetary policy measures taken in the past year. And as I said last year, the problem is not the demand but the supply. Unless we find a way to tackle the supply side shortages, inflation is here to stay.

Clint Flores is an economist

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