Malta’s prime minister, Lawrence Gonzi, said that his country’s biggest weakness is its dependence on foreign sources of energy, and he was taking steps to make Malta more independent.

In a wide-ranging exclusive conversation with fDi Magazine, Mr Gonzi discussed Malta’s efforts to attract more foreign investment, the nearby crises in Libya and north Africa and the country’s struggles with illegal immigration.

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However, it was the country’s dependence on foreign oil that he said was its biggest challenge. He said: “We’re an island with an economic structure that is dependent on foreign oil. We have to diversify our sources of energy. By 2020 we want 10% of our energy to be from alternatives.”

As such, Mr Gonzi is actively seeking investment into the sector. He sees it as part of a larger effort to diversify Malta’s economy. Other sectors he would like to see developed further are financial services, manufacturing, IT, tourism and healthcare.

The prime minister said he was especially busy at that moment with so much going on in nearby Libya. Incidentally, the US ambassador to Malta was spotted outside Mr Gonzi’s office as fDi's interview concluded.

On the conflict in Libya, Mr Gonzi, who has met Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, stopped short of calling for the Libyan leader to leave office and said he hoped for a solution as it was evident that the country's people were demanding a change.

When it came to the country’s problems with illegal immigration the prime minister said he expected to see more solidarity from other EU members in helping Malta deal with the situation. While he praised some countries for taking some of the migrants into their countries, he said that the core issue needed to be addressed.

He said: “We need to identify the problem at its source. We must ask ourselves why so many people are risking their lives to come here. We must ask ourselves where is all of our aid money going that is meant to help these people and their governments.”