The migration crisis cannot continue to be tackled boat by boat and the European Union cannot continue to leave countries like Malta and Italy to fend for themselves, Prime Minister Robert Abela said.

Speaking during a joint news conference together with the leaders of southern Europe during the Summit Med 7 in Corsica, Abela said the pressures on the migratory route in the centre of the Mediterranean have been increasing for some time.

The problem, he said, was not being given the importance it deserved on the European agenda and although the assistance some countries were giving was acknowledged, there could not continue to be frequent cases of migrants left on boats in the middle of the Mediterranean usually because of a lack of agreement.

In the most recent crisis, 27 people have been stranded on an oil tanker at Hurd’s Bank since August 5.

The European Union, Abela said, had made migration commitments several times but when these came to the implementation phase, particularly when it came to the fight against criminal circles leading illegal migration, very little was done.

He mentioned the importance of Libya and Africa in the context of migration as the places from where many migrants departed towards the centre of the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean sea was what separated the European Union from another continent so cooperation was important not just for the safety of EU countries but also for peace, economic development and prosperity in the region, Abela insisted.

He insisted that the situation in Liby was of major importance and said Malta was serving as a point of dialogue with Libyans. It was also important for economic activity in Libya to be revived, he said.

The Prime Minister also referred to developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

He said Malta was looking at the situation in this part of the Mediterranean but stressed that, as a neutral country, its position was clear. The sovereignty of all countries should be respected on the basis of laws. Dialogue was the main means through which to tackle the situation.

The summit had earlier discussed sanctions against Turkey at the European Union's next summit if Ankara shunned dialogue on escalating tensions in the region.

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