NATO officials are currently holding talks with Maltese leaders to discuss the future status of the Atlantic alliance on the Mediterranean island.
NATO officials are currently holding talks with Maltese leaders to discuss the future status of the Atlantic alliance on the Mediterranean island. The recent meetings between the Maltese Government and NATO and British officials follows this year's June Elections on the island. Labour Party Leader Dom Mintoff became Prime Minister by a one-seat victory over the Nationalists led by Dr. Rorg Oliver. Almost immediately upon coming to power, Prime Minister Mintoff has set about alienating and opposing many of the island's longtime allies and collaborators. Ten days after the election, it was reported that Mr. Mintoff had ordered the expulsion from the island of Admiral Gino Brindelli, Mediterranean Naval Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and that he had also blocked a forthcoming visit to Malta by the U.S. Sixth Fleet, while a Russian destroyer was permitted to dock. Next, the Prime Minister announced that he would be seeking a new defence agreement with Britain. By July 3rd, the British Governor-General, Sir Maurice Dorman, had left the island in accordance with Mr. Mintoff's desire to appoint a Maltese Governor-General. Just two weeks later, British Defence Minister Lord Carrington flew to Malta for two days of talks. Ten days after that, a West German delegation arrived in Malta to assess investment prospects and begin talks on future advice to the Government on several different matters - ranging from the repression of smuggling to the resumption of work on the dry docks. On August 3rd, Professor Ralph Dahrendorf arrived for unspecified talks with Mr. Mintoff. He is responsible for External Relations in the Common Market - and during his electoral campaign Mr. Mintoff had said that the Labour Party wanted to modify its associate membership agreement with the EEC. The following day, the Maltese Prime Minister left for Libya for talks with Colonel Gaddafi - who has long advocated that Malta should become independent of Britain and NATO and align herself with North Africa. Then, following a special meeting in Brussels by NATO countries on Thursday, August 5th, to discuss financial assistance to Malta for the continued use of the Island's military bases, NATO's acting Secretary-General Jorg Kastl arrived in Malta on Friday for series of talks with Mr. Mintoff.
In the meantime, the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church has not yet been heard - although reports would indicate that they might prefer a continued link with Britain and NATO, rather than any major alignment with African Arabs.
Whatever the outcome - one of Malta's major industries, tourism, has not yet suffered unduly in spite of some cancellations by British travellers.