Earlier this week, the Maltese diplomatic corps unionized with UĦM, have threatened to strike. The bone of contention was a call for applications with the diplomatic corps issued exclusively to government employees. Apparently, the irregular appointment of Giovanni Buttigieg as Ambassador to Ireland was the straw that broke the camel’s back and escalated the tensions between the diplomatic corps and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Giovanni Buttigieg is not a diplomat but was previously and secretly appointed as Malta’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Yesterday, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Christopher Cutajar, has backtracked on the call for applications and suspended it temporally until discussions with the UĦM are concluded.
The diplomatic corps has had enough of political appointees being bypassed the regular employment course of the diplomatic course. The established procedure of a career diplomat starts at the lower range of the scale which is climbed regularly and slowly throughout the years via a step by step process involving exams and competitive calls. However, members of the government have regularly abused the diplomatic corps by using it as their own employment service for their friends and children, and naturally, these appointees would always be appointed to top-level posts bypassing all competitive processes.
I clearly remember being told by Evarist Bartolo, at a time when we still spoke to each other and when he was just appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs that he was very much aware of the widespread nepotism in the diplomatic corps. Today, Varist seems to be disappointing many diplomats who believed that he would address this. Bartolo’s appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs has also made no difference to the scandalous ambassadorial appointments made out of political favour. For example, the Maltese Ambassador to the UK, Emmanuel Mallia, is a previous Minister of the Interior and a crook who was involved in the illegal contraband industry of Libyan diesel in Malta. The police did in fact investigate my claims but haven’t been able to build a case against him because most of the illegal money which was exchanged was shrouded in favours and complicated transactions. For example, Gordon Debono, the oil smuggler with whom Emmanuel Mallia was in business, developed a villa in Mosta for one of Emmanuel Mallia’s friends.
This is without a doubt, the worst time ever to be a Maltese diplomat, not only because of the crisis we are in but simply because the government is constantly putting us to shame with its constant defense of the criminal elements in the Labour Party. With a Prime Minister who juggles his time between defending Corrupt Man of the Year 2019, Joseph Muscat and inaugurating Starbucks cafes, it’s very difficult for a Maltese diplomat in a room filled with adults to pull a straight face. It’s like playing poker and your opponents have powerful hands, and you are sitting there like an idiot trying to look tough with a pair of deuces.