Border checks have been retained in the wake of the Paris attacks, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday as security in strategic places was upped.
Malta had suspended Schengen and reintroduced border controls for the Valletta Summit but the restrictions had to be lifted on Friday night. Schengen was to be suspended again at the end of the month for CHOGM.
However, Dr Muscat said developments in Paris had prompted the government to keep border controls in force in the interim period as well.
He insisted that the measures being taken were precautionary since Malta did not face any known threat.
Preparations for the Commonwealth summit at the end of the month would continue, he added. But he expressed willingness to cancel the meeting if Malta faced a credible threat.
“We must continue with our lives… I will be the first one to come out and inform the people if Malta faced a credible threat. Malta’s security comes first and if need be we will also cancel CHOGM.”
The Prime Minister said security at the airport, embassies and other key areas was stepped up overnight. However, he reiterated there was no cause for alarm.
The Security Service, the police and the army were in contact with their foreign counterparts.
Expressing solidarity with the French, Dr Muscat described the terrorist act as “an attack on Europe and the civilised world”.
Asked whether the attack spelt the death knell for Schengen – the EU’s open border policy – Dr Muscat said it accelerated the need for reforms.
He said Europe must not curb the right of free movement since this would play into the hands of terrorists. However, he said the migration crisis had exposed the need for Schengen to be revisited.
Dr Muscat played down allegations that attributed wrongdoing in the granting of thousands of Schengen visas by Malta to Algerians.
Through the Schengen system, any visa issued or rejected by any country would be immediately notified to other Schengen countries, he added.
“The government has never received any complaints from the French and when the media reports started surfacing we sought feedback from the French. They told us officially that they had no problem with Malta’s processing of Schengen visas for Algerians.”