The Strand, Gzira, 19-21 November, 1999
My paper “Reopening the Fortress” was presented at a conference on ‘Schengen and Migration in the Mediterranean’ organized by the Ceratonia Foundation, Alternattiva Demokratika (Maltese Green Party) and the European Greens in Malta, 19-21 November, 1999.
The speakers included Alima Boumedienne-Thiery (Green MEP), Arnold Cassola (Secretary General, European Federation of Green Parties), other Maltese and foreign politicians, refugees, the GWU (the largest Maltese union) and Maltese NGOs. Adrian Grima was representing the Third World Group.
Excerpt from the article:
“According to the Caritas report on Poverty in Malta for 1998, a good number of Maltese respondents ‘considered the presence of immigrants and refugees in the neighbourhoods as a threat to their security. It somehow down-classed their neighbourhoods and brought abnormality into their otherwise normal lives.’
And yet, as seasoned migrants ourselves, we really should know better. Malta has a two-hundred-year-old direct experience of emigration. It has never been easy for those of us who emigrated, mostly for purely economic reasons, to other countries. In 1912, the Daily Malta Chronicle (quoted by Mario Azzopardi) published a piece about the negative reactions of the Australians against the poverty and ignorance of the Maltese emigrants in Sydney. (Note the racist reference to ‘coloured people’.) ‘The Australians are classing the Maltese with coloured people. This can be read in the newspapers and no Australian or Englishman will work with them. We are beginning to feel ashamed of ourselves on this account. In Sydney the Maltese are utterly cold-shouldered and soon it will be the same in Tasmania.’ Moreover, the State Authorities in Australia were apparently targeting the Maltese for cheap labour.”
This article was published in The Sunday Times (Malta) in January, 2000.