Did the EU turn a blind eye to Mafia haven Malta?

Following the murder of popular Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia several MEPs have called the EU Commission to account, accusing Brussels of doing nothing to stop corruption and crime on Malta. Europe's papers also insist that the journalist's death must have political consequences.

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Protagon.gr (GR) /

Mafia thrives where rules don't apply

It's interesting to observe the way Brussels has reacted to the murder, Protagon finds:

“In her analyses Galizia described how the little island state - which held the rotating EU presidency a few months ago - was handed over to criminal organisations and basically became a hideout for the international mafia. ... But this little state in which journalists are murdered is definitely Europe. And it could be here that Galizia's murderers made a big mistake. Her death - in addition to provoking an international wave of anger - has triggered a reaction from the EU. Perhaps Brussels will finally decide to take action against phenomena like that in Malta, where the indifference to the 'rules' of which the northern EU partners always speak has led to organised crime turning an entire country into its base.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

EU must spearhead the fight against corruption

The death of the investigative journalist raises questions for the entire EU, the Daily Sabah believes:

“Fighting corruption is one of the EU's leading values. Since the subject Galizia investigated led to her death, it is curious what steps the EU will take regarding this problem in Malta. Is Malta the sole exception in the EU, which claims to set an example for the entire world? Currently, we are all wondering about the answers to such questions. ... Presently, the EU must first and foremost ensure the lives of journalists before press freedom. In the EU, writing about corruption must not lead to such a tragic end.”

The Malta Independent (MT) /

Malta's journalists systematically intimidated

The intimidation of journalists has a long tradition in Malta, columnist Andrew Azzopardi complains in The Malta Independent:

“What happened on Monday afternoon is not only an act of aggression but also an attack on all of us who try to articulate ideas, chase stories, ask questions, try to understand social truths. All of this is not just about Daphne's assassination, this is about a State that has failed to protect us, it is about the Institutions that have been weakened by a dialectic of hostility. ... The intimidation, bullying, strong-arming and duress that journalists and presenters have and are being subjected to, is no new situation.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Press freedom under fire

The murder prompts Kristeligt Dagblad to reflect on whether press freedom is exposed to too many threats:

“It looked as if the Western understanding of freedom - including the media's right to criticise whomever they please - was able to spread after the fall of communism. Now, however, an increasingly authoritarian generation of politicians who are only interested in their own advantages is on the rise. Add to that the advent of digitisation. Giants like Google and Facebook don't do much to make the press any more critical, and advertising profits no longer go to journalism but to the shareholders. ... Press freedom isn't just a legal framework. It can't be maintained by legislation alone, but requires a civil society. ... We must strive to keep the culture of press freedom alive.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A serious image problem

Malta is a retreat for organised crime, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments:

“The political system on this Mediterranean island is utterly corrupt. ... In recent years Malta has become a popular destination not just for tax dodgers and money launderers, it is also a hub for the international drug trade, weapons smuggling and human trafficking. Moreover the island is a popular refuge for wanted Italian mafiosi and representatives of the Gaddafi regime who fled Libya. In short, there's a lot of money circulating on the island, and it's being used not just to bribe officials and politicians but also to hire contract killers. Although you don't hear much about it in the foreign media, in Malta car bombs and murder squads are a popular method for eliminating economic rivals and other people you want to get rid of.”

The Malta Independent (MT) /

Malta's democracy put to the test

Now it's up to each of the country's citizens to take up the fight against corruption and lack of transparency in Malta, the Malta Independent stresses:

“[Daphne Caruana Galizia] must have stamped on some almighty toe and the victim waited until the deed was avenged. ... All over the social media people have been crying this was a black day for Malta. And that democracy is under threat. It was indeed a black day. But as regards the survival of democracy, that depends on each and every one of us. As we said after the Charlie Hebdo terror attack, JesuisCharlie, so too we say today IamDaphne. Her spirit must come to inhabit each and every one of us.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Pursuit of truth has been silenced

The journalist's murder is a hard blow for democracy in Malta, the Times of Malta complains:

“The criminals are on the rise and the enemies of democracy are celebrating. What we need to find is not who killed her but what led to this barbaric act. All those now crying and shouting out that freedom of expression has been dealt a severe blow should look back objectively at all that was thrown at Daphne Caruana Galizia before today’s murder. She was told to shut up over and over; she was threatened with all sorts of things. Now she has been silenced. And as a result so has the pursuit of truth.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Unfortunately not fiction

Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder and the events leading up to it would make a good thriller, La Stampa writes:

“Bribe money from Azerbaijan for the prime minister's wife to facilitate an energy agreement worth millions. The president of a bank escaping through a back door carrying suitcases full of documents. ... Tax cuts for foreign firms. International drug deals. A car that explodes and inside it a woman, the very journalist who discovered the dirtiest dealings on the Island of Malta. What sounds like a thriller is unfortunately the reality.”