The Algerian government is interested in using Malta as an entry point into Europe’s energy market, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Speaking to the media after extensive meetings with members of the Algerian government in Algiers today, Dr Muscat said Algeria was interested in unconventional energy dealings with Malta.

Government sources told Times of Malta this could see Algeria use Malta as a form of front office to its existing infrastructure in Algeria.

Algeria is the second biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas to Europe, after Russia. A similar partnership could be used for the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Muscat said Algeria produced medication for Africa, which it could not supply to Europe unless it obtained a foothold on the continent.

“The type of relationship they want to have with us was beyond our expectations. I am very satisfied,” Dr Muscat said.

He added that the Algerian government was also looking into the possibility of attracting Maltese hoteliers to operate state-run hotels in Algiers.

Military action for France

Dr Muscat also spoke about Malta’s decision to respond to French calls for defence assistance, describing it as "unchartered territory".

France invoked a never-before-used European Union "mutual-defence clause" to demand that its partners provide support for its operations against Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and other locations.

The government has said it would assist, but only in line with the Constitution, which defines Malta as militarily neutral.

“This is tricky because we can’t base ourselves on some precedent,” he said.

Dr Muscat said the move was “largely symbolic” and the government would be having bilateral meetings with the French government next week to discuss the matter further.

Pressed on what action Malta would take, Dr Muscat insisted the government would respect the Constitution. 

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