Malta has made a proposal to Libya and Italy as a possible solution to the continental shelf issue, which has been pending for years, Foreign Minister Tonio Borg said this morning.
An agreement is needed so that oil exploration can take place.
Speaking in Parliament during the budget debate on the financial estimates of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Dr Borg said that Malta's pretentions were based on what was decided by the International Court of Justice in 1985.
This had limited its decision to the area where the Maltese and Libyan waters faced each other but did not establish the median line to the east and the west, which were also contested, especially the east where both Libya and Italy had certain expectations, Dr Borg said.
(That case had been instituted after Libya sent a gunboat to stop oil exploration on a section of the Medina Bank which Libya claimed as its own territory).
Malta, Dr Borg said, believed that the best solution was joint exploration by all the countries concerned but this could not be done before agreement was reached.
He said that none of the three countries (Malta, Libya or Italy) were drilling for oil in the contested areas.
The Foreign Minister spoke extensively about the conflict in Libya and Malta's humanitarian involvement in the matter. The country did not involve itself in military operations, unless their aim was humanitarian, he said.
Dr Borg said the government was in favour of not allowing the country to be used as a foreign base or in a military alliance.
But neutrality was not an aim in itself but a tool for one to reach the desired aims. Malta could not remain neutral to a request by the British government for assistance to get people who were abandoned in the desert through a military operation.
In the Libyan conflict, Malta had assisted 100 of the 193 United Nations countries, evacuating 20,000 foreigners from Libya through Malta, 5,000 of them Chinese citizens.
(Source: Times of Malta)