German President Joachim Gauck this afternoon started a state visit to Malta by calling on President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

The two heads of state held talks and exchanged gifts - a filigree karrozzin for the German President and a tea set for President Coleiro-Preca.

In comments to the press, Mr Gauck said he wanted to reaffirm the strong relations between the biggest and smallest countries of the EU.

He said he had noted remarks in his meeting with President Coleiro Preca on the need for a holistic approach to tackle migration. Clearly, the international community needed to work with the migrants' countries of origin. European countries also had to acknowledge their responsibility for the destiny and fate of the migrants. One should be thinking of legal channels of access to the migrants, he said.

On bilateral issues, Mr Gauck spoke on how his country was prepared to help Malta in the training of workers.

Replying to questions by a German journalist about the detention of migrants in Malta, Mr Gauck said he was  aware of international criticism of detention in Malta but he had come here to learn from Malta on the solution that it had identified to tackle the problem. He was not here to rate the country's perforamnce especially when it had a heavy burden. Germany was never  faced with a sitation like this that tested its limits.

Germany, however, was the most active country in Europe and shouldering the highest influx of migrants, from the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

President Coleiro Preca acknowledged that Germany was the European country which took the highest number of migrants from Malta and reiterated a call for an international, holistic approach to tackle the problem.

Mr Gauck will have talks with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, tour the migrants' open centre in Marsa and meet NGOs who help migrants.

Other engagements include wreath laying at the War Memorial.

Picture - DOIPicture - DOI

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