Maltese citizens may soon lose their right to enter the USA without a VISA as a bipartisan bill in the US Congress aims to halt the US VISA waiver programme to countries which sell their passports. It is no coincidence that the erosion of our democracy and rule of law is aligned with our foreign policy which is currently run by Labour propagandists who have a very deep misconception of what neutrality and non-alignment consist of. The result is our slow detachment from the Western world in a global process of international political and trade re-alignment. As Mata turns into a one-party state with a rule of law in shambles, we are very far off from our 2003 dream of European modernity and our international position is also reflecting this gradual erosion of our democracy. The other countries in Europe which are slowly dislocating from the Western camp are Hungary and Turkey which are both one-party states.
In the long run, this international realignment process is proving to be a blessing in disguise for the West. The West is becoming more secure, cohesive and self-sustainable. Turkey has got away with years of human rights abuses and more recently an invasion into Syrian territory controlled by the Kurds only because Turkey is seen as a necessary defence ally within NATO. However, the West will soon have the privilege to give less importance to Turkey as Finland and Sweden which have strong defence capabilities join NATO. This is also part of the process of the West’s drive to reallocate energy security and defence within its borders instead of outsourcing it to dictators. As the West consolidates and re-asserts its democratic values and the respect for self-sovereignty, those who go against this trend will be left outside hanging. Trade on the most important items such as energy will be restricted to club members and the financial system will not be open to everyone. “You can be rich with us, but only if you accept our club’s rules” will be an ever-increasing mantra of major policymakers in Washington, London and eventually, Paris and Berlin. Meanwhile, our policymakers in Malta scribble infantile essays which completely misconceive our neutrality and non-alignment foreign policy of the 1970s while they try to apply it (incorrectly) to today’s reality. The end result of these errors is that we are currently aligning ourselves with the delinquent children of the West such as Hungary.
Italy as a NATO member is also showing signs of appeasement to Russia, but then, Italy’s politics and rule of law are also in shambles. Mario Draghi has so far been a big disappointment and hasn’t reformed the highly indebted yet heavily taxed economy. The big dreams which came with his accession to power have already faltered. Draghi’s allies don’t seem to be serious leaders either. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio lived in his mom’s basement when he entered parliament. Italy also has the risk of turning to the far-right for its myriad of complex problems and many Italian far-right leaders like Matteo Salvini are openly pro-Russia. France made its decision at the polls recently and clearly re-affirmed its pro-Western status, and Italy’s political future will be revisited soon with elections next year.
Malta and Italy are traditional and natural allies within the EU, but as international realignment takes place, Malta has the opportunity to look to the future instead back at the past. If we had a pro-European and Western government, we would currently be strengthening relationships with the North, Finland, Sweden and Norway and with the East of Europe, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine and the Baltic states. Instead, we are opposing a Russian oil embargo out of shirt-sightedness and also, probably rent-seeking.