Speech/statement | Date: 12/11/2015 | Office of the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Valletta, Malta 12 November 2015.
Mr President, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Firstly, I would like to thank the Government of Malta for bringing us together here in Valletta.
This summit takes place in an extraordinary situation.
And it is extraordinarily important.
We are all faced with unprecedented levels of refugee and migration flows.
Many African and Middle-Eastern states are sheltering hundreds of thousands of men, women and children fleeing war and conflict. Many of you have made an impressive effort to provide protection, under difficult circumstances.
Europe is now faced with a major migration and refugee challenge.
We are mobilising huge resources to manage the influx, and to ensure a safe and dignified reception of those arriving at our borders.
Our individual efforts are important. But what we can accomplish together is even more so. Delivering on this joint effort is crucial.
We welcome and support all aspects of the Valletta action plan.
Let me highlight two areas that are critical:
Firstly: We need to combat criminal networks that are running the illegal refugee and migrant business. They are cynically exploiting women, men and children and putting them at great risk.
Secondly: We need closer cooperation on the return of nationals who do not qualify for asylum or protection. This is based on international law and existing agreements. Otherwise, we risk undermining the whole asylum institute. We risk migrants being absorbed into black marketeconomies where they have few rights or opportunities. And we risk having to reduce aid budgets for long-term development because we are overwhelmed by the needs at home.
This extraordinary situation requires a two-fold response. First, we must address the immediate problem: the large-scale irregular migration by land and by sea. We must save lives and protect those in need.
With this in view, Norway will maintain its search and rescue vessels in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean. The crews of these vessels have already saved thousands of lives.
Norway will also continue to be a major humanitarian donor to refugee populations on the African continent, in the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Second, we must develop a long-term strategy to address the root causes of migration. Trade, investments and job creation are crucial in this respect. So is the resolution of conflicts. Norway will continue to press for stronger efforts to reach peaceful solutions to armed conflicts, as these are creating millions of refugees and migrants.
And we will contribute to the Trust Fund being launched here at Valletta, and work for rapid impact projects with our African partners.