Malta
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Maltese diplomat questions effectiveness of neutrality in ‘dangerous' times

Malta’s Ambassador to France has questioned the effectiveness of Malta’s status as a neutral state, particularly in light of suggestions that decisions on security policy in Europe should be taken by majority votes.

Carmelo Inguanez, a seasoned diplomat, was set to give his speech during a Victory Day ceremony on Wednesday, but after this was cancelled, the speech was instead disseminated to the media on Friday. 

In today’s “dangerous and less predictable” world, the European Union is at a crossroads with its identity and must decide whether it wants to remain a fully-fledged player or a passive witness on the world stage as the rivalries of global superpowers play out on its home soil, Inguanez said.

While the EU has the responsibility and means to be a main centre of action, he continued, this cannot happen with the rules it is operating in today.

Inquanez questioned how effective Malta's neutrality is in the context of discussion on how the EU can act efficiently and effectively in matters of common foreign policy and security policy, perhaps by no longer taking decisions by unanimous vote.

“What value do we have as a neutral state if the decisions in the European Union will be taken by majority voting?” he said.

“I am saying this because it is logical to expect that in case of the removal of unanimity, the option of constructive abstention will also be removed because there would no longer be a need for it. If this happens, one must question whether the concept of neutrality would become superfluous given that Malta would have to obey and respect decisions taken by majority voting irrespective of its neutrality.”

In this context, even if neutrality could be maintained in the spirit of compromise, it would create an awkward position of having to reconcile it with European common foreign policy. 

As beautiful and noble striving for peace is, he continued, we cannot continue as before and ignore the ways in which the world is changing.

“This is not a matter of not wanting peace in the world. Of course, we want peace in the world and we should work for it. But we cannot fail to recognize that the world has changed; when the present is not like the past, and when the future will also be different from today. If we are not dynamic, even in our thinking, we will lose every sense of agility in our foreign policy,” Inguanez said.

Malta, he continued, should not be afraid of discussing the matter and he encouraged the nation to approach the issue with an open mind of “turning a challenge into a net advantage”.