Yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Committee sitting frequently devolved into a shouting match as Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi continued to give testimony over the motion of censure against EU ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana. The committee members and the PM frequently talked over each other during the session, raising their voice accordingly. On a number of occasions, comments from one side also provoked a deafening choir of protests from the other. The motion accuses Mr Cachia Caruana of seeking to avoid parliamentary scrutiny when he argued that Malta had never formally withdrawn from the PfP in 2004, as quoted in a US diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks. The cable notes that this proposal would allow Malta to participate in EU-Nato strategic discussions without the need for a divisive parliamentary vote. Dr Gonzi started giving testimony on Wednesday, in a sitting that was significantly calmer in tone. Through a lengthy prepared statement, Dr Gonzi had revealed that the plan Mr Cachia Caruana had been quoted as discussing in the leaked cable – arguing that Malta had never formally withdrawn from the Partnership for Peace and was thus eligible to attend EU-Nato strategic discussions – had ultimately failed.(independent.com.mt) The heated debates are synonymous with evolution.
Russian grannies make it to the Eurovision finals
A troupe of old dancing grandmothers from an obscure Russian village, the Buranovskiye Babushki, were among the qualifiers from the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku this evening. The first 10 countries to qualify for Saturday's final are Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Russia and the Republic of Ireland which qualified on the strength of the 'golden ticket'. Another 10 countries will be selected in the second semi-final on Thursday – with Malta's Kurt Calleja among the contestants. They will be joined by the 'big five' countries for the final night - France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain and host Azerbaijan. While the Russian grannies are the oldest women on stage, the UK's entry will be the oldest male - crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, 76, who first topped the UK charts 45 years ago in the era of the Beatles.(timesofmalta.com) It can be an artist at any age.
AG advised government that security of documents agreement did not have to be referred to parliament
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this evening tabled before the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee written advice by the Attorney General which, he said, showed that the Security Agreement with Nato - the security of documents agreement - did not fall within the requirements of the Ratifications of Treaties Act. Dr Gonzi was reacting to Opposition claims, made during the discussion yesterday, that Ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana could not discuss the reactivation of the Security Agreement behind parliament's back because it needed to be ratified by the House. Dr Gonzi added that there also appeared to be confusion about what the Opposition was actually objecting to in this debate and in its motion. He read reports in various media which quoted Labour's foreign affairs spokesman George Vella as saying that the Opposition was objecting at the fact that according to a document leaked by Wikileaks, Mr Cachia Caruana was working with US government officials to take Malta back in Partnership for Peace behind parliament's back. It was clear that the Opposition had thought that Mr Cachia Caruana's meetings were about PfP, when that was not the case. Dr Gonzi also referred to another Opposition question yesterday about whether memos from Mr Cachia Caruana to the prime minister existed and whether he would publish them. Dr Gonzi said today that his research showed that one such memo existed and he was presenting it to the committee. It was based on the proposals already mentioned in the notes submitted by (then) Major Martin Xuereb. Dr Gonzi said that in his subsequent memo to the Cabinet he had not taken up all the recommendations made by Mr Cachia Caruana. Leo Brincat (PL) said it was unacceptable that Dr Gonzi had tabled Mr Cachia Caruana's on the third day of his evidence before the House and not before, when so many other documents had been published.(timesofmalta.com) The convulsions of a State demonstrate that it works.