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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08VALLETTA134
2008-04-04 15:44:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Valletta
Cable title:  

MALTA'S DECISION TO REJOIN NATO'S PARTNERSHIP FOR

Tags:   MT  NATO  PGOV  PREL 
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VZCZCXRO3790
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVT #0134/01 0951544
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041544Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY VALLETTA
TO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1471
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VALLETTA 000134 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2018
TAGS: MT NATO PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: MALTA'S DECISION TO REJOIN NATO'S PARTNERSHIP FOR
PEACE UNDER ATTACK BY OPPOSITION, MEDIA

REF: VALLETTA 048

Classified By: MCummings for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VALLETTA 000134

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2018
TAGS: MT NATO PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: MALTA'S DECISION TO REJOIN NATO'S PARTNERSHIP FOR
PEACE UNDER ATTACK BY OPPOSITION, MEDIA

REF: VALLETTA 048

Classified By: MCummings for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (SBU) In the first foreign policy decision of his newly
elected government, Malta,s Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi
opted to rejoin Malta's membership in NATO,s Partnership for
Peace (PfP). Tonio Borg, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
for Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to the NATO Secretary
General on March 17, 2008, requesting that Malta's membership
in PfP be reactivated.


2. (C) As reported reftel, Gonzi had informed the Ambassador
in January of his intention to rejoin PfP if the Nationalist
Party (NP) was reelected. Following the NP's electoral
victory in early March, the Embassy coordinated with GOM
officials to facilitate the process of reactivating Malta,s
membership in PfP with the aim of getting Malta in prior to
the Bucharest Summit.


3. (C) In a meeting with the Ambassador on March 25, FM Borg
alluded to the harsh criticism of the GoM decision by the
opposition Labor party, which was echoed by editorials in
many leftist and even some mainstream newspapers (see para
5). Borg indicated that if Malta's membership to PfP was not
approved during the Bucharest summit the government would pay
a price for the decision. Now that question has been
answered, with a unanimous vote to approve Malta,s
application during the April 3 meeting of the Euro-Atlantic
Council in Bucharest.


4. (SBU) In his address at the Bucharest summit on April 3,
Prime Minister Gonzi asserted that with PfP membership Malta
will be able to develop its military interoperability, force
planning, modernize the armed forces, and participate in
training exercises. To answer criticism from the opposition
Malta Labor Party (MLP), Gonzi defended the decision to
rejoin PfP as fully consistent with the neutrality provisions
of Malta,s constitution. Gonzi added that Malta did not
intend to pursue full membership in NATO, but would use

membership in PfP to develop the military and civil
interoperability in order to contribute effectively to
UN-sanctioned international crisis management and peace
support operations. (Note: Malta,s rejoining PfP resolves
Malta,s status under Berlin-Plus: as a non-NATO EU member,
the Maltese are routinely asked to leave the room when NATO
classified information is discussed during EU defense
meetings, something that has been a source of embarrassment
for the GOM since EU accession.)


5. (SBU) The decision to rejoin PfP has been harshly
criticized by the media, in large part because of the sudden
roll-out (it came nine days after the new government took
office, with no public discussion or debate). The
opposition,s criticism went further: in addition to being
incensed at the lack of consultation, MLP officials are
claiming that the decision violated the neutrality clause in
Malta,s constitution. With the resignation of Malta,s
opposition leader Alfred Sant the day after election results
were announced, the MLP currently has no leader; so while the
criticism came from many MLP officials, it had no coordinated
voice. It is noteworthy that is was Sant himself who, as PM,
withdrew Malta from PfP in 1996, during his first 24 hours in
government.


6. (C) Much of the criticism has centered on a false claim
that the GoM decided to join PfP in response to pressure from
the U.S. Leo Brincat, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs in
the previous Shadow Cabinet, complained to media that he
himself had been lobbied by a senior "non-EU" diplomat in an
attempt to get Labor to reconsider its position on PfP. When
the Ambassador phoned and asked him to clarify, Brincat
insisted that merely discussing the pros and cons of PfP
membership on three separate occasions (over the course of
two years) amounted to a form of pressure. Brincat also
echoed speculation in the MLP's media outlets that the USG
might have offered to conclude a Double Taxation Agreement
(DTA) as a quid pro quo for Malta agreeing to rejoin PfP.
The Ambassador told Brincat flatly that the USG had not
exerted any pressure Malta to rejoin PfP, and that the
just-concluded DTA had been negotiated by the US Department
of Treasury over the course of two years with no reference
whatsoever to PfP.

Comment
--------------


7. (C) The decision on PfP demonstrates the GOM,s

VALLETTA 00000134 002 OF 002


willingness and openness to engage on security issues. With
the NP win in the March 8 elections, the GOM was willing to
make this move in part because Gonzi can count on being in
power for the next five years, providing time for Malta,s
population to adapt to any changes PfP might bring and making
it a less divisive an issue in the next round of elections.
BORDONARO