Malta makes proposal to Libya and Italy on continental shelf issue – timesofmalta.com

Malta has made a proposal to Libya and Italy as a possible solution to the continental shelf issue, which has been pending for years, Foreign Minister Tonio Borg said this morning.

An agreement is needed so that oil exploration can take place.

Speaking in Parliament during the budget debate on the financial estimates of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Dr Borg said that Malta’s pretentions were based on what was decided by the International Court of Justice in 1985.

This had limited its decision to the area where the Maltese and Libyan waters faced each other but did not establish the median line to the east and the west, which were also contested, especially the east where both Libya and Italy had certain expectations, Dr Borg said.

(That case had been instituted after Libya sent a gunboat to stop oil exploration on a section of the Medina Bank which Libya claimed as its own territory).

Malta, Dr Borg said, believed that the best solution was joint exploration by all the countries concerned but this could not be done before agreement was reached.

He said that none of the three countries (Malta, Libya or Italy) were drilling for oil in the contested areas.

The Foreign Minister spoke extensively about the conflict in Libya and Malta’s humanitarian involvement in the matter. The country did not involve itself in military operations, unless their aim was humanitarian, he said.

Dr Borg said the government was in favour of not allowing the country to be used as a foreign base or in a military alliance.

But neutrality was not an aim in itself but a tool for one to reach the desired aims. Malta could not remain neutral to a request by the British government for assistance to get people who were abandoned in the desert through a military operation.

In the Libyan conflict, Malta had assisted 100 of the 193 United Nations countries, evacuating 20,000 foreigners from Libya through Malta, 5,000 of them Chinese citizens.

On EU sanctions which on Libyan and Iran, the minister said that to protect those who had already signed contracts with these countries before the sanctions were put in place it introduced a clause saying that the sanctions would not apply to previously signed contracts.

On EU sanctions which on Libyan and Iran, the minister said that to protect those who had already signed contracts with these countries before the sanctions were put in place it introduced a clause saying that the sanctions would not apply to previously signed contracts.

The minister said that Malta has extended its visa service to Tirana, through the help of other European Union countries, such as Austria and Italy.

It is also in talks to gain representation in another 14 countries through another EU country.

He said that this year there were 36,000 applications for a visa and 33,500 were issued.

He said that Kuwait opened an embassy in Malta in the past year strengthening relations between the two countries.

The government is studying what it can open in Kuwait at an embassy or lower level to establish its presence in another gulf country. The same applied to Qatar.

He said that later this week, he will be visiting Saudi Arabia where he would be signing a double taxation agreement. Another will be signed with Oman.

The President has been invited to visit Saudi Arabia next year.

Ali El-Ehmer

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