Malta conspicuous in absence from Paris summit on Ukraine

Twenty European Union heads of state are set to meet in Paris on Monday to discuss support for Ukraine as the war with Russia enters its third year, but Malta is not attending, along with Cyprus and Hungary – both known for a more hesitant stance on the issue.

The summit, organised by French President Emmanuel Macron, is of an “extraordinary nature in a highly volatile context,” the Elysee said, adding they hope to better align EU member states’ financial and military capacities as Russia makes gains in its invasion.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he expects Russia to conduct another offensive in May and called for more support from the West. The need becomes even more acute as the stream of support from the US is less than certain, particularly with a possible Trump win in the autumn US elections.

A total of 26 countries will participate in the summit, including 21 heads of state and 20 EU member states. They include Poland’s Andrzej Duda, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, The Netherlands’ Mark Rutte, and Spain’s Pedro Sánchez.

The US and Canada will have ministerial representation, and the UK’s Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, will also attend.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make a statement alongside the French president via video link.

When asked why Malta would not be attending, a government spokesperson stated, “Malta remains steadfast in its condemnation of Russian military aggression against Ukraine, actively advocating for peace in alignment with the principles of the United Nations, upholding international law, and respecting the sovereignty of the Ukrainian territory.”

Malta added, “It’s noteworthy that despite the absence of several Heads of State/Governments following invitations received on Friday, Malta persists in its commitment to stand with Ukraine. This commitment is also demonstrated through ongoing humanitarian aid efforts.”

The statement continued by noting Malta’s hosting of the Ukraine Peace Formula in October and its “continuous advocacy for peace both as a member of the UNSC and in its capacity as the CEO of OSCE”.

The Shift also contacted the press service of the Elysee to ask what the official reason for Malta’s non-attendance was, but no response was given at the time of publication.

Hungary’s non-attendance is expected following the stance of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which has stood in the way of many EU efforts to support Ukraine and has kept relatively warm ties with Moscow.

Cyprus has pledged various kinds of aid to Ukraine, including technical assistance for clearing mines. While it has largely aligned with the EU in terms of its foreign policy, journalists revealed it is a hub for storing and moving Russian money, including those for Putin’s regime, in a bid to avoid sanctions.

Like Malta, the country also issued a sizeable number of passports to Russians in exchange for investments in the country under its now-shelved cash-for-passports scheme. Malta is the only EU member state that still runs the scheme and Prime Minister Robert Abela has been exposed leasing his own property to Russians wanting citizenship.

While Malta has stopped taking applications from Russians since the war started, it has refused to stop the scheme and will face the European Commission in the European Court of Justice.

European support for Ukraine

Ukraine has been vocal about the fact it is running out of military supplies, and those promised by the West have yet to be delivered. For example, an EU promise to deliver one million ammunition rounds by spring has yet to be realised and will likely only reach half of what was pledged.

Malta is a neutral country, but this has not stopped other neutral countries, such as Austria and Ireland, from attending the summit or pledging aid in various forms since the war started.

On Saturday, The Times of Malta reported that Malta had “expressed doubts” over a joint EU statement issued on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion, citing “government sources”.

According to the report, Maltese negotiators were uncomfortable with a pledge to send missiles to Ukraine, with the source telling the media that “we couldn’t endorse a text that encourages the delivery of lethal weapons.”

The narrative was spread in the national context where EP President Roberta Metsola was accused of waging war, as part of a stream of partisan attacks ahead of the EU elections.

Again, Ireland and Austria, both neutral countries, did not express similar concerns.

Eventually, Malta endorsed the text with a footnote that any military commitments would be provided ‘in full respect of the security and defence policies of certain member states’, which sources said was explicitly included for countries like Malta.

Hungary, which will also not send a representative to the Paris meeting, vetoed the statement, meaning it was issued and signed by Council leader Charles Michel, Parliament Head Roberta Metsola, and Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen without the endorsement of the EU27.

Metsola posted on X that “our future is together” with a picture of the EU and Ukrainian flags, adding, “Two years later, we still fly them high”.

Zelenskyy replied, “I am grateful for your unwavering and genuine support. Ukrainian and EU flags match perfectly together. As a future member of the EU, Ukraine looks forward to making all of our Europe stronger, safer, and more prosperous.”

Another summit is set to take place in Tirana this week, where Zelenskyy will meet with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and other leaders from the region to discuss peace and support for his country.


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1 month ago

There’s no money in it for the habib’s, not worth the effort so it gets sidelined as ever. What a ridiculous country.

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