“Times change,” declared Alex Sceberras Trigona, the reconfirmed International Secretary of the Labour Party in Malta. He was referring to the secret treaty between Malta and North Korea in 1982 in which North Korea would “donate” weapons to the government of Malta “with a view to further strengthening and developing the friendship and solidarity established between the peoples and armies of the two countries in the common struggle against imperialism and safeguarding the independence.”
“North Korea was responsible for the transportation of weapons and ammunition, and dispatched military instructors to train and teach local military personnel. Four instructors were sent for three months and were paid according to their military rank equivalent to those of Maltese officers. The agreement stipulated that the Maltese government had to provide a one way ticket from Malta to Pyongyang to the instructors and ‘subsistence expenditure during the flight and expenses for lodging, meals, medical treatment, transport means (including the driver) and salaries during their stay in Malta, and training equipment needed in the education of the Maltese military personnel.’ The Maltese government had also agreed to ‘protect’ the Korean instructors and ‘ensure their safety, and exempt them from Customs duties and taxes.’ Both sides also agreed to ‘observe strict secrecy in respect of all transaction made pursuant to this agreement and shall not disclose any matter hereof to any third country.’”
It may be worth noting that these four instructors are alleged to have been martial arts experts (see comment #3)
Where and what is Malta you ask? Malta, strategically located at the very heart of the Mediterranean Sea was, at one time (and apparently some of the population still are), a staunch friend of North Korea through the efforts of Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff. In 1979 severed defense ties with London, placed former NATO fuel-storage facilities at the service of Soviet ships and in 1980, Malta declared a neutrality policy and was a member of the Movement of Non-aligned Countries until 2004. It is also common knowledge that Kim Jong-Il studied in Malta in the 1970s at the invitation of the Mintoff and may have learned some of his statesmanship (?) from him as given here by Western Confucian in 2006.
Who is Dom Mintoff? He is viewed by some as the greatest Prime Minister Malta has ever had. John Zammitman, a leader of an opposition group said: “I am an atheist. Dom Mintoff is my god and I will do anything for him.” Others are asking that his home be preserved as a national monument (picture of his home and article).
Mintoff seems to share this view of his importance. According to a 2008 article in Malta Today, Mintoff wrote a letter to Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean dictator president, and describes himself as “Doctor Dominic Mintoff, Emeritus Prime Minister and Founder of the Republic of Malta. Held under surveillance by the CIA as directed by G.W. Bush” Mintoff seems to compare himself to Mugabe and claims he offered him political advice concerning assumption of the African country. (The letter can be viewed here on what is said to be Mintoff’s blog.) The article goes on to note that there are some similarities including the North Korean weapons and trainers:
“What is historically known is that six months after independence in October 1980, Mugabe signed an agreement with the brutal communist dictatorship of North Korea, for assistance in training a new army brigade to deal with internal dissidents. 5 Brigade (here and video of the North Koreans and Zimbabwean soldiers), as it came to be known, wore different uniforms, with distinctive red berets; it used different equipment, transport and weaponry. Codes and radios were incompatible with other units. It is likely that the same North Korean instructors that became known to the press some time later, had also been entrusted with the training of the Maltese government’s own Special Mobile Unit.”
Here is the homepage for the Malta-North Korea Friendship Association (where the photograph for this posting comes from)