Mediation? Of course not.

Published: March 11, 2011 at 3:23am

Libyan prime minister Bagdadi rang Lawrence Gonzi to ask Malta to mediate for Gaddafi in Europe

So at last the prime minister has spoken about what was said in his meeting with Muammar Gaddafi’s under-secretary for international cooperation, Mohammed Taher Siala.

I say ‘at last’ because Malta has been indundated with bad press over the last few days, thanks to the news-peg which John Dalli so generously provided for a hundred stories about Malta’s embroilment with Libya causing it to block sanctions, be difficult, not be trusted, and so on and so forth.

You read a lot of them here, so you know what I mean.

Finally Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday evening, after a meeting in Brussels with EU Commission president Barroso, that he told Gaddafi’s emissaries Malta will not mediate with the European Commission on their behalf.

Unfortunately, some people who read the report on yesterday took the reference to mediation to mean mediating between Gaddafi and those who oppose him. And so a string of comments flowed in.

But no such request was made. Why would it have been? There can be no mediation in what is a zero-sum game. It’s not as though the rebels are going to say, ‘Oh, OK – Gaddafi can stay and rule us for a little while more so long as he cuts down on the torture”. And Gaddafi isn’t going to say, ‘I’ll just pack my bags and leave quietly if you promise not to shoot me on the way out.’

The mediation the prime minister spoke about was mediation – negotiation would be a better term – on the reduction of sanctions. Now why on earth would the prime minister want to do that? The Gaddafis would have struck lucky had John Dalli won the leadership battle in 2004, but luckily for the rest of us, he didn’t.

Just watch him go, if he had been prime minister today, fighting Gaddafi’s pitch and taking the business angle, maybe striking a deal for John Dalli & Associates along the way.

Lawrence Gonzi also said that after Siala left Malta, his boss Mahmudi Bagdadi rang and repeated the same requests, but was told that the Libyan government had to listen to the wishes of the Libyan people and that the violence had to stop.

My disappointment with the prime minister’s dealings with these two men is that he never mentioned Muammar Gaddafi’s name or told them clearly and unequivocally that he should go (I checked).

There is the world of difference between saying ‘The Libyan government has to listen to the wishes of the people’ and saying ‘Muammar Gaddafi has to go. His position is no longer tenable.’ That’s what Portugal’s foreign minister told them. It was all over the news.

The Gaddafis don’t even acknowledge that the rebellion was caused by the people expressing their anger – they insist they are a bunch of drugged terrorists – so obviously they are not going to bother listening to their wishes because if they’re terrorists then why should they listen to them.

I actually think that Gonzi should have gone a step further even than the step he didn’t take. He should have been direct about the fact that the departure of Gaddafi is not just the wish of the Libyan people, but Malta’s wish too. Careful civility is certainly not a requirement when dealing with the delegates of a regime that is killing and torturing people even as you sit and talk.

The golden rule applies: if people are rude enough to make that kind of demand, which comes with screamingly obvious implications that they think you’re on their side and will stick your neck out to oblige them, you need have no reservations at all about responding in kind.

31 Comments Comment

  1. Gahan says:

    The three Ps: prudence, patience and perseverance. Gonzi has a lot of these qualities: he puts up with loads of rubbish, he never crosses the line and sticks to his guns when he says something.

  2. ” Mediation…of course not” Since when has mediation not been one of the options? That should always be one of the first steps in trying to find a solution.

    [Daphne – You don’t mediate with somebody who deserves no mercy, Silvio.]

    Only if it fails should more drastic action be taken. When do we expect Gaddafi to be ready to agree to stop this massacre? When he has retaken all the lost cities? And from how things are going it wont be long. We must not negotiate with him when he has the upperhand it would be more difficult.

    • Stefan Vella says:

      We should not negotiate with despots, period.

      • Corinne Vella says:

        There is nothing to negotiate. Gaddafi wants no opposition and the opposition wants no Gaddafi. The two cannot co-exist.

    • No I’m sorry I dont agree with you. One should TRY to mediate always, even with the devil himself.

      But the best position you should be when you have the winning cards, and we still have them at the moment. Don’t you think that Gaddafi isn’t worried at the moment even though he seems to winning the conflict?

      Don’t you think the sanctions and embargo and the freezing of his assets are worrying him. Why wait, time is on his side. Quite soon the situation in Libya will be taking second place, in the international news, by than everything will be lost.

      I am sure he has already started eliminating all his adversaries from the place he has recaptured. Maybe there are people in his inner circle who are ready to negotiate, behind his back. These things happened many times before.

    • Another John says:

      Silvio, what do you have between your ears? A short summary for you: the rebels DO NOT WANT mediation between them and Gaddafi. While the civilised world has declared that Gaddafi has to go – why? Because of the atrocities he has committed. Now do you get it why mediation is entirely out of the window?

      • No John, “what I have between my ears ” reminds me that it was just last week that the rebels offered to negotiate, and they were even willing to let Gaddafi go with his family and his millions, or have you forgotten this episode?

        [Daphne – The claim that the rebels wished to negotiate with Gaddafi was swiftly and vehemently denied.]

        This isn’t so far fetched, even the Fascists ( you remember them!) tried to negotiate, when Id Duce was on the way out.

      • Corinne Vella says:

        The reported offer of negotiation last week came from Gaddafi. The opposition refused to negotiate at all.

  3. John Sammut says:

    I think the Prime Minister acted and spoke wisely. Keeping in mind the geographic, political and economic connections between the two countries our prime minister could not speak out in the language of those who are entirely out of this orbit.

  4. U Le! says:

    Gaddafi’s name is unmentionable. It might be the father or one of his horrid sons or whoever, it is collectively known as the Libyan government.

    It is that institution that has to go, so probably Dr. Gonzi was correct in not mentioning the Butcher of Libya by name. Gaddafi senior should not be replaced by Gaddafi junior or one of their side-kicks.

    • Corinne Vella says:

      There is no ‘Libyan government’, as Gaddafi says. He cannot resign, because he is not the president. The people are in charge. And now the people are telling him to go, he stays on and he and his son give interviews saying that they will not go and that they do not care what anyone else thinks.

      Yes, the system need an overhaul. But Gaddafi senior and all the Gaddafi juniors and hangers on need to go too and should finally be brought to justice.

  5. Bus Driver says:

    The [cruder] Maltese version of the golden rule being: Min jahra f’idek, tisthiex ic-cappasulu ma wiccu.

    Gaddafi and his sons have consciously spread their shit all over the Libyan people with never a hint of care or mercy. The Gaddafis deserve no quarter.

    • Joseph A Borg says:

      This negotiating thing reminds me of the time Mugabe was helped to consolidate power in 1979 paying lip service to Nkomo[1] until he finally shovelled him off to consolidate what was effectively already a dictatorship. Mugabe is still there and Zimbabwe is worst off.

      I still get the creeps remembering reading a fiction on Rhodesia. I miss that connection to books I used to get…


  6. Interested Bystander says:

    And Gaddafi isn’t going to say, ‘I’ll just pack my bags and leave quietly if you promise not to shoot me on the way out.’


  7. 2011 says:

    Medjazzjoni ma’ Gaddafi qatt, medjazzjoni ma’ min joqtol qatt! Dawn in-nies qeghdin jisirqu l-hajjiet u l-aspirazzjonijiet ta’ eluf ta’ familji u zghazagh.

    Iridu jzommuhom sottomessi lejhom hajjithom kollha, jghixu fil-faqar u fl-injuranza u jxejjru bandiera li flok tirrapprezenta lin-nazzjon Libjan, tirrapprezenta lir-regim ta’ Gaddafi.

    B’wicci minn quddiem nistqarr, li minkejja kontra r-rieda ta’ hafna Maltin, ninsew ftit iz-zejt u naraw kif id-demm li jixtered ikun mill-unqas u li dak li jixtered iservu ghal xi haga. Nemmen li ghandu jsir attakk militari fuq Tripli u f’temp ta’ tlett sieghat jitnaddaf il-post

  8. pippo says:


    Naqbel mieghek mija fil mija, anzi imisshom jaghmlu dan l-attakk issa u mhux imbaghad.

  9. Angus Black says:

    The Prime Minister will never be caught in a game of ‘heads you win, tails I lose’ like the Libyan regime is trying to play. Lucky for us and Europe this callous strategy has met with the right response.

    As a matter of fact I would not have gone as far as saying ‘stop the bombing, then we talk’. There is nothing to talk about. The line in the sand has been drawn some time ago and Gaddafi crossed it and for that he has to go – not to another country, unless to stand trial for crimes against humanity, at the International Criminal Court .

  10. lovejoy says:

    Malta should seriously consider rejoining Nato, this time as an independent sovereign state. There are risks of course, but surely far, far fewer than the risk of living in an extremely tough neighbourhood with our doors and windows wide open.

    It is also perfectly possible to retain the same economic structure as a tourist and financial services destination with the added economic benefit Nato membership would bring. Cyprus has manged this very successfully and we should seriously consider doing the same. Now that’s a referendum really worth having – assuming we can agree on the question, of course.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      No. NATO membership is beyond our budget. But we could still seek to participate actively in ad hoc coalitions.

      And Cyprus is not a NATO member. What are you on about? Perhaps you’re thinking about the Sovereign Base Area, which is British territory.

      (F**k me if Mintoff hasn’t managed to confuse a whole nation about the difference between having a base on your soil and being a member of an alliance).

      • .Angus Black says:

        Sorry HPB, but like it or not, you remain a virgin.

      • Another John says:

        Of course: Helsien came about in 1979 not in 1964. What were you thinking Baxxter?

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        What do you mean? lovejoy’s comment shows an abysmally skewed knowledge of history. It’s no fault of his, I hasten to add. All our history books repeat the error.

        He says “rejoining NATO”. Malta was never a NATO member. There was a NATO headquarters in Malta, which later moved to Naples (before Helsien), and there was a British military base. That’s all.

        In practice, it means that if NATO had ever gone to war, no Maltese soldier would have had to icarcar demmu ghall-barrani. So Mintoff’s rhetoric, KMB’s furrowed brow, and Renato’s tears were all in vain.

  11. Farrugia says:

    Why should Malta’s PM ‘mediate’ for the Gadaffi regime?

    This is the same regime that has undermined Malta’s search for oil either by direct military intervention (in the 1980s he attacked the Saipem oil rig over the Medina Bank) or by intimidating oil companies (as happened more recently) that wanted to drill for oil in Malta’s continental shelf.

    He has hindered and obstructed our chances of living off millions of petrodollars that he and his family have been enjoying for decades. Gadaffi is a yoke on the Libyan as well as the Maltese people.

  12. Corinne Vella says:

    Condemnation of Gaddafi as an act of vengeance is no more an admirable stand than ‘mediating’ for him to stay on.

  13. Should the Gaddafi regime lose this “CIVIL WAR” the honour of bringing Gaddafi and his family to an end would be solely the merit of the Libyan people. All the other countries, E.U included, have up to now only talked and talked hoping that time will save them from taking concrete actions, all they are thinking of is protecting their interests in Libya . It is the Libyan people who should judge and condemn them. Don’t you think they deserve this Mr. Bisazza?

    [Daphne – D’you mean like this? ]

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