Migrants: Italy increases pressure on Europeans

Sent Nov 14, 2022 4:09 PMUpdated November 14, 2022 at 4:34 pm

“Italy cannot be the only gateway to Europe for migrants”, insists Giorgia Meloni, the new Italian Prime Minister. This is what his foreign and interior ministers will continue to repeat this week to their European colleagues, and it was to begin Monday evening in Brussels at a meeting of the heads of diplomacy of the Twenty-seven. Rome asks its partners for a common solution to “defend” the EU’s external borders and develop an efficient and fair plan for the redistribution of migrants. “Solidarity on this dossier must not be a simple slogan”, warn the transalpine authorities.

Italy fears isolation

France asked “Europe to decide very quickly on the follow-up to” the refusal to take on board the ship “Ocean Viking” and its 230 migrants. A tone considered “aggressive, excessive and incomprehensible” by Italy, as well as the suspension by Paris of the planned reception of 3,500 migrants currently in the peninsula, or the strengthening of controls by the French police at the border.

“We have no problems with France and no one wants to throw oil on the fire”, Antonio Tajani, the Italian Foreign Minister, tried to stall in the face of these retaliatory measures. But trust is broken between Emmanuel Macron and Giorgia Meloni. There is no bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali and the French head of state is currently communicating only with the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella.

The Turkish example

“Europe must intervene today with a Marshall Plan for Africa and develop a common strategy, otherwise we will soon have to manage millions of migrants”, warns Antonio Tajani. In front of his counterparts in Brussels, he calls for the pure and simple abolition of the “Dublin regulation” which until now has made the countries where migrants make their first entry into the EU responsible.

“The example to follow is that of the agreement signed with Turkey”, invokes Giorgia Meloni, who has abandoned her electoral promise of “naval blockade of the North African coast”. You now want the EU to set up centers for migrants in Algeria, Libya and Tunisia to identify them and evaluate asylum applications. Assisting them would be European humanitarian personnel, with the presence of military forces in Libya, still plagued by clashes between militias.

NGOs targeted

Italy is also asking for European regulations for the ships of NGOs in the Mediterranean that have rescued 16% of the 90,000 migrants who arrived this year on the coasts of the peninsula. He wants migrants to be assisted by the state to which every boat that rescues them is attached by its flag. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi intends to show the same firmness as his predecessor Matteo Salvini. NGOs will have to prove that they have rescued migrants on a boat in distress, otherwise they will be subject to a hefty fine and the hijacking of their ships.

“NGOs are the taxis of the seas”, reproaches Antonio Tajani, based on a document from the European agency Frontex according to which “the presence of NGOs in the Mediterranean would be an ‘attraction factor'” (attraction factor for migrants). The UN prefers to evoke a “push factor”, that of the inhumane conditions of detention centers for migrants in Libya. An opinion shared by the German ambassador in Rome. “NGO ships save lives where state aid is lacking,” he tweeted. Their humanitarian commitment deserves our recognition and support. The German government announced on this occasion an aid of 8 million euros.

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