Italy’s rejection of migrant ship ‘shameful’ - United Nations envoy

Galtero Lara
Junio 14, 2018

Diplomatic fight between Italy and France escalates.

But Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini - leader of Lega, the anti-migrant party which formed a coalition with Conte's Five Star Movement - said he wanted an apology from the French President.

He also said that between January and May, France had sent back to Italy 10,249 migrants who had crossed their common border.

The accusation by Paris that Rome acted irresponsibly is "compromising relations between Italy and France", Milanesi said after summoning French ambassador Christian Masset for a meeting on Wednesday morning.

The Aquarius and two Italian ships that have taken some of the migrants are now expected to arrive in Valencia on Saturday night, weather conditions permitting, said SOS Mediterranee's co-founder Sophie Beau.

Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive.

More than 1.8 million people have entered Europe irregularly since 2014 and Italy is now sheltering some 170,000 asylum seekers. Salvini's League scored its best election result in March elections after pledging to deport an additional estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants.

Economy Minister Giovanni Tria spoke with his French counterpart after cancelling his meeting, a French finance ministry official said, and both agreed to reschedule their session in coming days.

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Salvini insisted Tuesday that the country's ports would no longer be open to foreign boats carrying migrants. Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said that Italy may have violated global humanitarian law, while Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, commented: "Turning this into a political weapon is is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

Hours later, the Italian government said it could not "take hypocritical lessons from countries who have always preferred to look the other way on immigration issues".

"The same can not be said of France, which has often adopted much more rigid and cynical immigration policies".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn criticism from her own conservative party for her open-door migrant policy, adopted in 2015, which also provoked a rise in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

On Wednesday, she said discussions between Italy, Germany and Austria were about finding "a Europe-wide solution".

As EU politicians have dithered or traded blame, refugees have continued to arrive. Italian maritime vessels, however, are still docking in its ports: on Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with 932 migrants aboard.

However, the Sea Watch is still waiting to pick them up, asking for a written guarantee that it will be allowed to dock in an Italian port.

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