Malta Defense and Security

By | December 26, 2021

In 1979, under the Labor government of Dom Mintoff, the last British warship left the Maltese coast, marking the end of the British military presence and the Atlantic Alliance on the island. The same year, the naval base of the Natowas closed and the country declared its neutrality, sanctioning it with article 3 of the Constitution. In 1981 the country signed an agreement with Italy under which the latter, through the military technical assistance mission, guarantees Maltese neutrality and can use the island’s military bases in exchange for an annual grant of 5 million. dollars. The agreement is still in force, albeit in a revised version which provides for the transition from the form of technical-military assistance to that of collaboration in the defense sector, with less Italian military involvement on the island. In 2011, recalling Maltese neutrality, then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced the decision to ban the use of the national territory as a base for military operations conducted in Libya.¬†For Malta defense and foreign policy, please check

In terms of internal security, the most serious problem is represented by illegal immigration from North Africa (in particular from Libya and Tunisia). The number of landings in Malta is small if compared with that of Italy, Spain or Greece, but still significant in relation to the very high population density of the island and its small size. Foreign Minister George Vella and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insisted on the need for a more concrete commitment from the EU, on the definition of a common search and rescue strategy, as well as on a strengthening of the Border Police Coordination Agency (F rontex), so that the burden of relief and assistance to migrants not only serious on the countries of southern Europe. In this regard, Malta together with other European countries (members and u and not, namely Italy, France, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Croatia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Romania), contributes to the European border patrol mission Triton, launched at European level in November 2014 after the conclusion of the Italian mission Mare Nostrum.

However, Maltese conduct in matters of immigration has been criticized several times in the past by the EU, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and non-governmental institutions such as Doctors Without Borders, which have denounced the precarious conditions of the immigrants in permanent detention centers, but above all the practice of rejections at sea. Malta was asked to respect the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugee and, in particular, the principle of non-refoulement, according to which the refugee or asylum seeker must not be redirected to countries where his life or his freedoms would be threatened.

Frontex, Eurosur and the European Agenda on Migration

2015 could be remembered as the black year of migrations in the Mediterranean: according to data from the World Organization for Migration (Iom), if in 2014 3139 people lost their lives trying to reach the northern shore of the Mediterranean, this number is was exceeded in 2015, with 3670 victims. Overall, up to October 2015, 580,688 migrants landed on the southern coasts of Europe, mainly in Greece (441,527) and Italy (136,049), the remainder between Spain (3,007) and Malta (105).

Precisely this Mediterranean island, for years at the forefront in the management of migratory flows from North Africa, has been one of the main Italian partners in the request to the EU.more concrete and harmonized measures for the management of migratory flows across the Mediterranean. The progressive deterioration of the political situation in Libya, which has made it more difficult to control the trafficking of human beings, and the persistence of the conflict in Syria, which has caused a strong wave of refugees to Europe, have in fact made the limits more evident. poorly concerted action at European level. The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, in an attempt to remedy this situation, had already chosen Malta in April 2014 to present his five-point plan on migration management, which was later merged into the European Agenda for Migration (May 2015) and comprising a number of measures such as an enhanced budget for operations Triton and Poseidon (part of Frontex) and the draft of a system for the distribution of refugees through quotas. In the meantime, the activities of the Eurosur mission, approved in October 2013 by the European Parliament and which allows, through a protected communication network, the real-time sharing of images and intelligence data for the control of land and sea borders have been continued. ‘ Eu. The serious crisis of the summer of 2015 and the massive use of the so-called “Balkan route” however prompted the Commission to take further measures. In particular, the redistribution of 120,000 refugees between EU countries (September 2015) and the creation of hotspots for the identification, management and reception of migrants. However, the revision of the legal access mechanisms for immigration is still in its infancy.

The persistent difficult situation has led to the emergence in Malta, as in other European countries, xenophobic or openly racist positions towards migrants and refugees, while the sensationalist news about the possible infiltration of militants of the Islamic State among people fleeing from war, famine or simply looking for a better future.

Malta Defense