Sofa Agreement Malta

The government`s reported agreement to reach a Status of Armed Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US – which would limit Maltese jurisdiction to US military personnel in Malta – was notable for the lack of a joint statement by the Maltese and US authorities following a visit by US Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper to Malta. Asked by the newsroom about concerns about the impact of such an agreement on Malta`s neutrality, as defined in the country`s constitution, Abela said any agreement that could be signed would “protect the principles of our Constitution and the laws of our country.” Asked whether the deal is due to money laundering, with the conclusion that it is in exchange for positive verification by the US, Abela said no deal had been signed and what was being discussed within the cabinet should remain confidential, but any signed deal would be signed transparently. Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed on Monday that no agreement had been signed granting special status to the US military in Malta. Not only is this clearly unconstitutional, but it also makes Malta a promoter of war and military aggression. It is indeed sad to see that the Maltese Government is prepared to use nationalist slogans against the weakest – asylum seekers – but then adheres to an agreement that humiliates our country and our interests. It is also ironic that the Maltese government is reaching an agreement that encourages war while complaining about the “burden” that comes from the refugees who feel these wars. So what is at stake if we now sign the US SOFA agreement? If we sign it, in the worst case, an American soldier who commits an abominable crime in Malta may end up before an American military court instead of the Maltese courts if the Maltese side has agreed to deliver justice. But back to the SOFA. I believe that the signing of the agreement does not affect Malta`s neutrality, as SOFA is an agreement that governs the status of military (and civilian) personnel involved in military training and operations abroad in a host country, the latter agreeing to extend certain rights and privileges to such personnel.

The government rejected such a quid pro quo deal and Abela insisted that any signed agreement respect the Constitution. He also disputed that a possible SOFA deal is linked to US support in order to avoid an international blacklist for Malta due to money laundering issues. It is rare for a U.S. cabinet member to visit Malta, indicating that an agreement of some significance was in sight with Esper`s visit, but the joint statement gave little indication of what was discussed and summed it up as “bilateral relations and how to further strengthen that relationship.” The visit came after the Times reported that the cabinet had agreed on the SOFA, a deal long sought by the United States but controversial given Malta`s constitutional neutrality. . . .

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