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MALTATODAY 27 February 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 27 FEBRUARY 2022 NEWS UKRAINE Environment & Resources Authority Hexagon House, Spencer Hill, Marsa. KONSULTAZZJONI PUBBLIKA ONLAJN DWAR ABBOZZ TA' LINJI GWIDA GĦAL PRATTIĊI TAJBA TA' TĦAWWIL TA' SIĠAR U ARBUXELLI FIL- GŻEJJER MALTIN Agħ l-opinjoni egħek dwar l-abbozz ta' Linji Gwida għal Pra ċi Tajba ta' Tħawwil ta' Siġar u Arbuxelli fil-Gżejjer Mal n. Jekk in interessat li pparteċipa f'din il-laqgħa pubblika onlajn, jekk jogħġbok irreġistra onlajn fuq jew skennja l-kodiċi QR indikat hawn taħt sa mhux aktar tard mill-Erbgħa 2 ta' Marzu 2022. Ir-riservazzjonijiet jsiru fuq bażi ta' first come, first served. Tista' wkoll bgħat il-kummen egħek dwar l-abbozz ta' Linji Gwida fuq l-indirizz ele roniku li ġej: sa mhux aktar tard mid-29 ta' Marzu 2022. Il-kummen tal-pubbliku se jiġu kkunsidra fil-finalizzazzjoni tal-Linji Gwida. Dikjarazzjoni ta' ċaħda ta' responsabilità: Ir-rappreżentazzjonijiet se jiġu rreġistra u jsiru pubbliċi fuq il-websajt tal-ERA, flimkien mad-de alji tal-persuna li tagħmel is-so omissjoni sakemm ma ntalabx l-anonimità bil-miktub mill-persuna li sso ome r-rappreżentanza tagħha, f'liema każ il-kontenut tar-rappreżentazzjoni se tkun disponibbli fil-pubbliku. Data: It-Tnejn 7 ta' Marzu 2022 Ħin: 14:00hrs – 16:00hrs Lingwa tal-preżentazzjoni: Mal Russian passports and SWIFT, Labour ministers stick to EU line on sanctions MATTHEW VELLA REMOVING access to the fi- nancial messaging service SWIFT would the most severe penalty for Russia – the po- tential "nuclear option" in the world of sanctions. If Russia is kicked off SWIFT, it would be severed from much of the global financial system. But it could also have unwant- ed consequences, chiefly by compromising energy exports to Europe. And it is for this rea- son that EU member states are not fully in synch with this op- tion. Earlier today, MaltaToday asked finance minister Clyde Caruana at a Labour Party press conference if he agrees with the option to remove Russia from SWIFT. Stopping from giv- ing any opinion on the matter, Caruana only said that Malta would be fully in step with EU sanctions against Russia. On her part, energy minister Miriam Dalli responded to a question from MaltaToday as to whether the island should stop selling its €1 million gold- en passport to Russian elites, by proferring a non-answer on the specific matter: "We will be fully in step with EU sanctions." Europe's unwillingness to cut Russia from SWIFT underlines the cost of what such a sanction would mean for European com- panies and governments. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, which has the biggest trade relations with Russia, has opposed the move. And while United States Presi- dent Joe Biden said the US and Europe were united in their ef- forts to confront Russian aggres- sion with aggressive sanctions, he suggested disagreement on barring SWIFT payments. It's not a clear-cut option, in spite of encouragement from European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, who said "fur- ther massive, sanctions, with nothing off the table, are impor- tant – we can do more. Includ- ing the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT system." Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, who has taken one of the hardest lines in the EU on imposing sanctions on Russia, said that he and others had been pushing for SWIFT to be included. "Many colleagues pleaded for SWIFT," he said, adding, "But we agreed more work needs to be done to assess what it means if Russia is cut off from SWIFT." French finance minister Bru- no Le Maire said the option of cutting off Russia from SWIFT remained open, but that he viewed this only as a last resort. "The fact remains that when you have a nuclear weapon in your hands, you think before you use it. Some member countries have expressed reservations, we take them into account. France is not one of these countries, I want to say this very clearly." Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki admitted after the Council summit: "Many leaders share the view that Russia needs to be excluded from the SWIFT system, but unanimity is needed to pass the sanctions." SWIFT is a Belgian messaging service, formally known as the Society for Worldwide Inter- bank Financial Telecommunica- tions, that connects over 11,000 financial institutions around the world. Created in 1973 by 239 banks from 15 countries to han- dle cross-border payments, it does not hold or transfer funds, but allows banks to alert one another of transactions that are about to take place. Severing Russia from SWIFT would instantly raise costs on energy, wheat and other com- modities, and that explains EU member states' unwillingness to go forward on this option. Without SWIFT, Russia would be unable to carry out interna- tional financial transactions, forcing importers, exporters and banks to find new ways to transmit payment instructions. International profits from oil and gas production make up more than 40% of Russia's rev- enue. Europe heavily relies on Rus- sian energy exports, so kicking Russia out of SWIFT would make business more costly and complicated. Even in 2018, Europe disa- greed with the Trump adminis- tration on cutting Iran's access to SWIFT. Ultimately, it was SWIFT that cut ties to Iranian banks out of fear of being in vi- olation of sanctions against that country. Additionally without SWIFT, Russia could be pushed further into forging stronger ties with China or even developing a digi- tal currency – bad incentives for Russian geopolitical ambitions. Ukrainian foreign minis- ter Dmytro Kuleba has made a heartfelt online appeal for Russia to be excluded from SWIFT, declaring that "every- one who now doubts whether Russia should be banned from SWIFT has to understand that the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children will be on their hands too." And former European Council President Donald Tusk accused EU governments of having "dis- graced themselves" by refusing to impose the toughest possi- ble sanctions on Russia. "In this war everything is real: Putin's madness and cruelty, Ukrainian victims, bombs falling on Kyiv," Tusk posted on Twitter. "Only your sanctions are pretended [sic]. Those EU governments which blocked tough decisions (i.a. Germany, Hungary, Italy) have disgraced themselves." Maltese prime minister (second from left) at the EU Council meeting. EP president Roberta Metsola said further sanctions, such as Russia's exclusion from SWIFT, should be on the table. But not all EU countries, like Germany, want to go for the 'nuclear' option Europe's unwilling SWIFT battle against Russia is also seen here at home, in an election campaign where government ministers do not say if they agree with stopping passport sales to Russian elites

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