Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday met former European Commissioner John Dalli in what could be the start of a formal relationship between the two former political foes.
The two held a 20-minute meeting in Castille last night during which they discussed Mr Dalli’s recent offer to help the Government.
Dr Muscat said that “different options” were discussed but when asked whether such options related to a consultative or executive position, he said: “I don’t want just advice from someone like Mr Dalli but I also want his energy, I want decisions.”
There is still a case against one person. When that is decided we will make our position clear
“After a declaration like this is made by someone of his calibre, I could not just sit back and do nothing. I have to put to good use people’s capabilities,” he said, indicating that the invitation for the meeting came from him.
However, he said, a formal announcement would be made in the coming days about the position.
The meeting comes after Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit last week declared there was insufficient evidence to proceed against Mr Dalli with a criminal case.
Shortly after that declaration, Mr Dalli said he was willing to offer his help both to the Government and to the Nationalist Party.
Asked yesterday whether the PN had asked for a meeting, Mr Dalli said dryly: “I haven’t heard a thing.”
When John Rizzo was still Police Commissioner, the police had indicated it planned to charge Mr Dalli but had been prevented from doing so because he had fallen ill abroad and spent months convalescing in Germany and Belgium.
Mr Zammit said last week that, after consulting with the Attorney General, it was concluded there was no case against Mr Dalli.
Mr Zammit’s position compounded serious questions being raised in Brussels about the process of the original investigation by the EU anti fraud agency, OLAF, into the case, which had led to Mr Dalli’s resignation in October.
When asked whether the Maltese Government had a position on the developments in Brussels, Dr Muscat said the Government would only take a stand once all the court cases related to this issue were exhausted.
“Currently, there is still a case against one person (48-year-old Silvio Zammit) being heard in court. When that is decided, one way or the other, we will make our position clear,” he said.
Mr Dalli is battling Brussels head-on and has instituted legal proceedings both in Belgium and Luxembourg fighting his dismissal. He is accusing European Commission president José Manuel Barroso of having an interest in blocking tobacco legislation and of using the OLAF report as an opportunity to get rid of him for that reason. Mr Dalli was responsible for health and consumer affairs.
On top of that, Mr Dalli has joined a chorus of MEPs demanding the resignation of OLAF head Giovanni Kessler.
Asked about the current state of affairs, Mr Dalli referred to OLAF’s recent replies to a set of 150 questions put to it by MEPs about its handling of the case and said that the most interesting thing was the “lack of replies”.
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