Prime Minister Robert Abela needs to improve his understanding of how the world works, former foreign minister Evarist Bartolo has said.
Asked about Xtra last night, Bartolo – who served as foreign minister between January 2020 and March 2022 – gave a mixed assessment of Abela, saying his views on foreign policy annoyed the government but did not expand further.
“I did what I thought was in the national interest and I would do it again,” Bartolo said.
Asked about his opinion on Abela, Bartolo said the prime minister should try harder to understand how the world, Europe and the Mediterranean work and how global politics impact Malta.
“They used to say politics was completely local, but today it’s become ‘glocal’ – both global and local,” he said.
Bartolo also warned that Malta is at a crossroads and needs to change its business model in light of new global regulations on taxation, environment, aviation and others.
“We couldn’t even keep doing what we were doing before if we wanted to, but we have to reinvent ourselves,” he said.
During his tenure as foreign minister, Bartolo condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, but warned against Western efforts to turn Russia into a pariah state.
“We have to be very careful. The Russians are not Putin and to demonize all of Russia and include all Russians in the category as if they were in Putin’s circle and responsible for what is happening would not only be a political error but also a factual error,” he said. he said in an interview with Lovin Malta last March.
Bartolo has also spoken out against calls to suspend Malta’s passport regime for Russian nationals, arguing that some Russians apply for Maltese citizenship to escape the Kremlin. However, the Maltese government ended up suspending the program just hours after passing these comments.
Stressing the importance of world peace, Bartolo said China has a crucial role to play in helping end the Russia-Ukraine crisis, saying the nation has always upheld the principles of sovereignty and independence. .
Although he was not re-elected to Parliament in the 2022 elections, he remained an active foreign affairs commentator.
After Turkey negotiated an agreement between Ukraine and Russia for the resumption of grain exports via the Black Sea, Bartolo said he had long urged the EU to cooperate more with Turkey, as well as with Gulf, Mediterranean and African countries.
“Some people in Malta and Brussels were not happy and told me I was playing with fire, while others called me ‘Mister Mediterranean’,” he said.
“European ministers had asked me to help them improve their contacts with Turkey, Qatar, Libya and Algeria and I would gladly do so while maintaining friendly relations with countries that are not allied to these nations. .”
“I hope that the EU will seek to strengthen its relations with these countries beyond seeing them as a source of energy.”
“The destiny of Europe is intrinsically linked to the destiny of the Mediterranean and of Africa, something [former Maltese Prime Minister] said Dom Mintoff. Little Malta can do a lot of good if it plays its humble role for peace and security whenever possible. »
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