Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the government was taking a proactive approach in providing help to migrants stranded at sea. 

Speaking during a short phone-in on ONE Radio, Dr Muscat said this approach was better than the country simply stamping its feet by refusing to provide assistance. 

Back in 2013, Dr Muscat had famously said the government had stamped its feet over immigration after threatening to push back migrants who had just arrived in Malta from Libya.

Dr Muscat said on Sunday that Malta had always fulfilled its legal responsibilities without asking for anyone’s help. 

“We cannot build walls in the sea, laws have to be respected. If someone is drowning, you have to save him”, Dr Muscat said. 

The Prime Minister said the recent reception of over 350 migrants on board the NGO vessel Ocean Viking showed Malta was willing to be part of the solution. 

They will all be relocated to France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania as part of a deal negotiated between the European Commission, France and Germany. 

The Ocean Viking had spent almost two weeks stuck between Malta and Lampedusa after it was denied entry into the small Italian island, having rescued its passengers in a series of rescue missions. 

Dr Muscat had words of praise for France and Germany in particular, as both countries had made an effort to expedite the process to take in these migrants following their reception in Malta. 

The Prime Minister expressed his pride in the way the government had handled the situation. 

He said a balance had been struck between safeguarding the national interest whilst still taking a proactive role, which was appreciated by the international community. 

This projected an image that Malta was a country that could be part of the solution, he continued. 

Government to continue attracting business to Malta

Turning briefly to the economy, Dr Muscat said the government would not relent in its efforts to attract more business to Malta. 

As finding employment was now less of a worry, people had more time to focus on their quality of life, he said. 

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