“Personally, I cannot accept such an agreement. I have always had a soft spot for the United States and I will continue to do so, but I have a greater taste for Malta`s sovereignty and independence and neutrality. The government rejected such a quid-pro-quo agreement, and Abela insisted that any signed agreement respect the Constitution. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Europe said there was no such agreement. He also denied that a possible sofa deal was linked to obtaining US support to avoid an international blacklist for Malta due to money laundering problems. Having graduated from the US Naval War College and worked closely with US forces in Malta and Europe for 20 years, I must say that I trust the U.S. military as an institution. Therefore, if the pros and cons of signing SOFA were reconciled, I would certainly vote in favour of signing a SOFA to improve security cooperation between the United States and Malta and to attract a number of much-needed funds for our tourism and maritime sectors. It will enhance military cooperation between the United States and Malta by facilitating the training of AFM personnel by U.S. forces in Malta for the benefit of our security.
Note: A healthy military relationship between Malta and the United States led the United States to finance in 2002/204 the purchase of two new 87-foot patrol boats, which still offer the best services today! “Once the government has signed this agreement, it will have repaid the moral debts generated since 2013 by the sale of the freedom of our country,” Repubblika concluded. The visit came after the Times reported that the cabinet had agreed on SOFA, a deal long sought by the United States but controversial given Malta`s constitutional neutrality. Sources suggested that Malta would approve the agreement in exchange for US support for the Financial Action Task Force, in anticipation of a decisive assessment of Malta`s efforts to combat money laundering by the Council of Europe`s moneyval experts. La Repubblica said he wanted to know President Vella`s position, given his historical ideological hostility, such an agreement and his role as guardian of the Constitution. Just this morning, Prime Minister Robert Abela answered a series of questions about the reported SOFA and said no agreement had been signed. Conversely, it is up to the government of the day to consider whether or not the signing of the agreement benefits the country and we are all free to express our views. It is rare for a member of the US cabinet to travel to Malta, indicating that an agreement of some importance was at stake with Esper`s visit, but the joint statement gave few details on what was discussed and summarized this as “bilateral relations and how to further strengthen that relationship”. Much has been said about the possible imminent signing of the Status of the Armed Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States. I am in favour of signing such an agreement, because I believe that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, both in terms of security and the economy.
These include rules relating to the legal competence of visiting staff, the application of discipline by the supervisors of the staff concerned and the determination of liability in the event of property damage suffered by third parties. A SOFA does not mean forming military alliances, nor does it invite the United States or any other nation to build bases in Malta or give the green light to the free exercise of those forces in the country. But let me be clear – I don`t think an agreement on the American sofa should be signed at all costs, especially when it comes to Moneyval or when it comes to defrauding scammers, as many blogs suggest.