Update: EFAC suspended amid heated discussions

The European and Foreign Affairs committee meeting was suspended on Tuesday evening pending a ruling from the Speaker regarding a vote on procedure. The Speaker will be giving his ruling this evening in parliament. In an argumentative and  heated debate, the government and the opposition could not agree on the order of business for the start of the hearing of witnesses in the motion presented by the Labour Party, calling for the resignation of Malta’s Permanent representative to the EU, Richard Cachia Caruana.

The motion presented by the Labour Party, calls for Cachia Caruana’s resignation following the Wikileaks documentation regarding his role in Malta’s participation in the Partnership for Peace Programme in 2008, for which no parliamentary discussion was held. The Committee is chaired by Francis Zammit Dimech and includes four members from the government and four Labour MPs.  The government denies this charge and claims that the opposition misinterpreted the documents.

In moving its defense of Cachia Caruana, the government presented a list of 21 witnesses. These included the Prime Minister, other government officials, NATO and EU officials, former US Ambassadors to Malta, ex NATO Secetary General Javier Solana as well as the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker.   

A heated debate about the order of witnesses ended in complete disagreement. Dr. Tonio Borg, who again seemed to overpower all government members on the committee, insisted that the Prime Minister should be heard first. He even explained what the Prime Minister would be saying in front of the committee, pre-empting the questions that the committee could ask the Prime Minister. The Labour Party strongly opposed this and insisted that Cachia Caruana should answer questions first, in his own defense. Dr. Vella said that since it was his resignation that was being requested, his evidence should be the first to be heard.

In fact, it was the Government side, after discussing the issue in the PN Parliamentary group, that had proposed to the opposition that Cachia Caruana should be invited to the European and Foreign Affairs committee to answer any questions that the Labour Party might want to ask. This is very different to the actions and reactions of Dr. Tonio Borg and his colleagues.   Cachia Caruana was to be ‘grilled’ by the committee not by his colleagues.  

The debate on the procedure for the ‘grilling’ of Richard Cachia Caruana escalated and there was no solution in sight since the government side simply refused to move away from their pre-arranged schedule. Dr. Zammit Dimech proposed the taking of a vote to decide the matter. The Labour side agreed provided that such a vote would be taken in the plenary session. Once again, there was no agreement on this procedure. The Government side insisted on the vote being taken by the committee and the Labour Party arguing that the committee did not have the right to take such a vote. The Labour Party Whip Joe Mizzi intervened and requested a ruling from the Speaker.

The Speaker decided to suspend the meeting to tomorrow, Wednesday, when he would give a ruling on this issue.

Earlier: This evening at 6.30pm the European and Foreign Affairs Committee meets in Parliament to start discussing the Richard Cachia Caruana resignation motion before it is discussed in plenary in Parliament, He will appear before the Committee to answer questions.

On Sunday afternoon at around 5.00pm the chairman of the Parliamentary European and Foreign Affairs Committee Francis Zammit Dimech was seen leaving the Westin Hotel in St Julians' where Malta’s Permanent Representative at the European Union Richard Cachia Caruana was also staying at the same time. Both Francis Zammit Dimech and Richard Cachia Caruana have denied that they met.

On Sunday afternoon maltastar.com carried the report that the two met at the hotel in St Julian's to co-ordinate the work of the committee as it starts meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Labour motion calling for the resignation of Richard Cachia Caruana. On Monday Zammit Dimech said :"Your allegations in my regard are totally unfounded. In fact they amount to a blatant lie." In the evening Zammit Dimech raised a breach of privilege in parliament denying the meeting.

On Friday 20 April 2012 the Labour Opposition tabled a motion in parliament calling on the Prime Minister to sack Cachia Caruana from his post of Malta’s Permanent Representative at the EU because of the total disregard he has for parliamentary accountability and scrutiny of government foreign policy.

The Opposition motion signed by MPs Dr George Vella and Dr Luciano Busuttil demands the resignation of Richard Cachia Caruana from his post of Malta’s Permanent Representative at the European Union after he bypassed parliament and discussed with other countries how to make Malta take important foreign police decisions without parliamentary accountability and scrutiny.

Vella and Busuttil’s motion deplores how sensitive foreign policy decisions were taken by Cachia Caruana without and public debate and without any electoral mandate.

Addressing the media on Friday 20 April 2012 Vella referred to US embassy cables by Wikileaks in 2011, where Cachia Caruana is mentioned a lobbying the United States eight years ago to reactivate Malta's participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace. Parliament was bypassed and the PN had no electoral mandate to do so, said Dr Vella.

The week before Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando criticized the government's support for Turkish membership into the EU – without the PN having an electoral mandate to do so and without discussing the issue in parliament. Turkey had opposed Malta's participation in NATO-EU security meetings, because the island was not a NATO member.

Last year MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando testified in Court that he does not exclude that Richard Cachia Caruana was behind some stories planted against him in the media.  

The Nationalist backbencher said that there were instances when he did not agree with the Cabinet’s or government’s position on various issues, thus stories were planted to pay him back.

“Just like it happened with Franco Debono, Robert Arrigo, Jean Pierre Farrugia and Jesmond Mugliett” he said. Pullicino Orlando said that in private RCC criticised him on a number of occasions for his positions against government policy.

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Comments (14)

HIGH TREASON

- Wed 16-May-2012, 15:44

RCC should be accused with HIGH TREASON. That is what happens in other countries.

Tony Abela

- Wed 16-May-2012, 11:22

Nothing new! The same old and gross arrogance of GonziPN.

alfred zarb

- Wed 16-May-2012, 11:05

the photo of gonzipn and rcc
it looks as if they are 2 persons we do not care. In other words ALI BABA

HAWKEYE

- Wed 16-May-2012, 08:25

HAD THERE BEEN ANY TRACE OF ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE PN,RICHARD CACHIA CARUANA WOULD HAVE RESIGNED AND NOT WASTE THE PARLAMENT'S TIME,IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY THIS IS THE SAME PERSON WHO TOOK A BULLET IN MDINA A FEW YEARS BACK WHICH THE PERPETRATOR HAD EFA'S SUPPORT.THE MAN HAS NO RIGHT BYPASSING THE PARLAMENT ON ISSUES OF NATIONAL SECURITY,HE IS A TECHNOCRAT NOT AN ELECTED MEMBER,THIS BULLSHIT THAT HE WAS AT A LOCAL HOTEL AT A DIFFERENT TIME IS JUST AN EXCUSE TO SAVE HIS SORRY ASS AND TRY TO GET OFF ON A TECHNICALITY WHICH HAS BECOME THE ORDER OF THE DAY LATELY ON THESE ISLANDS FDZ SHOULD REMEMBER THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE DENIES BEING THERE HE WAS THERE,EVEN THE CA CA ADMITTED WHEN THE HEAT GOT TO HIM.ONLY IN MALTA,SURPRISINGLY THE FRANCO DEBONO ACT HAS GONE STRAIGHT TO DVD AND NOT SHOWING IN THEATERS ANYMORE.IT WAS A GOOD SAGA BUT EVERYTHING COMES TO AN END ONE DAY OR THE OTHER.

il-manina

- Tue 15-May-2012, 18:32

Lill FZD niftakru ministru ta' hafna dipartimenti differenti. Imma dan f'xejn ma' kien tajjeb tant li l-istatistika li magha kellu x'jaqsam DEJJEM kienet tinzel l-isfel. Dan ghall ministeru wiehed kien tajjeb. Ministru tal-Klandestini.......ghax hawnhekk ikun jaqblilha Malta jkolli numri baxxi hafna!! Imma dan dejjem u f'kollox kien vroma!!

Peter Muscat

- Tue 15-May-2012, 17:06

It is impossible to miss out Dr Francis Zammit Dimech; 'dan, Alla ibierek, gab ruhu'!

Malti

- Tue 15-May-2012, 16:07

Hmmm! Dan dak il-Ministru li dam xi sentejn biex induna li hu l-Ministru tat-turizmu? Dak il-Ministru li ghamel il-''LOVE' bil maqlub gewwa San Giljan?

Dear Francis, before talking about lies, look at who produced you first (EFA)!

Joe

- Tue 15-May-2012, 14:02

L-arroganza ta' dawn in-nies ma tispicca qatt. Jahsbu li se jibqghu jghaddu n-nies biz-zmien. Fejn huma Franco u JPO?

Jahraq

- Tue 15-May-2012, 12:54

@ NINA
Don't worry, time will tell, very very soon. Maybe, even sooner than you think.

Jahraq

- Tue 15-May-2012, 12:33

Such people don't dare lie under Oath, imagine what they do behind our back ! ! !
I'm sure that when we will have a proper "Whistle Blower Act", we would learn of so many other things. God knows......what's been done. But such people knows ta...

Nina

- Tue 15-May-2012, 09:55

jekk ghandkom izjed provi ippublikawhomu xandruhom biex l verita tohrog umhux inhallu min joqghod jistahba wara l ispeaker biex jilghaba tal vittma u itawwal iz zmien u jaljena n nies

l fenech

- Tue 15-May-2012, 09:48

Issa drajnieh il-gideb tal PN irid ikun il PL biex johorgu l-affarijeit fil-wicc.

Cambronne

- Tue 15-May-2012, 09:02

RCC seems that he has no abode in Malta and hs to stay in a hotel when he is here.

l fenech

- Sun 13-May-2012, 18:14

Who's paying for the entertainment?

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