The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning discussed the EU response to migration and the situation in Libya in an hour-long meeting at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta.
Both leaders stressed that the EU needed to be unified in its response and both called on the parties in Libya to reach agreement on a national government as soon as possible.
When he spoke on migration, the EU president said the EU had a duty to help migrants in distress, but "We cannot open our doors to everyone".
At the opening of the press conference, Dr Muscat said Mr Tusk’s visit confirmed his commitment to the region and that the situation was of concern to the whole European community.
He said they had discussed how they felt the situation would develop in the Mediterranean in the next few months and how the situation might change with the formation of a national or partial-unity government in Libya. Europe, he said, was examining all possible scenarios and it would use all possible instruments available to it, including the Common Security and Defence Policy, to take the necessary action as required.
Malta, he said, believed any action should be under the auspices of the United Nation. Any reaction, he said, should be a European reaction and not the reaction of a single European state.
Mr Tusk said he was seeking a strong and united European response to the instability of the region. Only in that way could they tackle poverty and failing state structures, irregular migration and terrorism.
The EU, he said, needed to come up with new creative solutions rather than old proposals which were illusions. He was here to listen, learn and discuss what more the EU could do for its southern neighbourhood.
The EU had a responsibility to help migrants in danger, but it was also important to have security and stability of member states.
“We cannot open our doors to everyone,” he said, and action was needed so migrants did not need to leave their countries.
Also important, he said, was the increased threat of terrorism in the Mediterranean. The EU must stay ready to help the Libyan people and he was urging all parties to quickly agree on a unity government and a ceasefire.
He said his talks with Dr Muscat were useful, and he would follow-up his talks in Spain and Italy.
Replying to questions about Italy possibly imposing a blockade of Libya, he said he understood Italy’s position. One had to consider all possible solutions and he was prepared to discuss this initiative with Italy in the coming days.
Dr Muscat said it was premature to call this an intervention. This was a structured exercise which was not military intervention. There was no attack or boots on the ground. What was happening had to be seen in the context of the evident failure of Operation Triton to live up to expectations on the migration issue, and Italy, like Malta, did not want to be caught unware of what might happen in the future.
All intelligence as well as experience showed that instability led to increased migration flows.