A week after taking office, the new Italian government of antisystem and extreme right-wing parties is on Wednesday in the midst of new controversies created by the migrant crisis. At loggerheads with Paris, Rome has joined forces with Vienna and Berlin to fight against illegal immigration.
The dispute with France came to light after French President Emmanuel Macron created the controversy for criticizing the refusal of the Italian authorities to host on their territory the 629 migrants rescued by the humanitarian ship Aquarius .
At a Council of Ministers, Mr. Macron “reminded the international maritime law that in these cases of distress, it is the nearest coast that takes responsibility for the reception,” reported Tuesday. Government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux.
There is a form of cynicism and irresponsibility by the Italian government in the face of this dramatic humanitarian situation.
Emmanuel Macron, French president, quoted by Benjamin Griveaux
A spokesman for the party of the President, Gabriel Attal, added by stating that the Italian position in the file was “to vomit”.
These remarks raised the indignation of the Conte government, which took office a week ago . “Italy can not accept hypocritical lessons from countries that have preferred to turn their heads in immigration,” said the government on Tuesday in an internal memo made public by the media.
The case took a diplomatic turn on Wednesday, when Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero summoned the French ambassador to Rome to lecture him. The latter being outside the country, he instead received the charge d’affaires Claire Anne Raulin.
“Minister Moavero said such statements endanger relations between Italy and France. The tone is unjustifiable, “says the Italian Foreign Ministry in a statement.
“We are fully aware of the burden that the pressure of migration poses on Italy and the efforts that this country provides,” said a spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, apparently seeking to calm the game. the French authorities have of course questioned this.”
Salvini calls for an “official apology” from Paris
The Italian Minister of the Interior and head of the League (far right), Matteo Salvini, has nonetheless called for an “official apology” from France. Failing to obtain them, he added, “Premier Conte will do a good thing by not going to France”, where he will meet President Macron on Friday.
The French presidency indicated a few hours later having received “no information from the presidency of the Council (Italian) on a request for excuse or a possible cancellation of the visit of Giuseppe Conte”.
Our history of solidarity, humanity and voluntary service did not deserve to be addressed in this way by representatives of the French Government, whose official apologies I hope for as soon as possible.
Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Interior and Head of the League, in front of the Italian Senate
During a speech in the Italian Senate, Mr Salvini complained that France took only 640 of the 9816 migrants she had committed to receive as part of a plan to relocate the Union. in 2015 to relieve front-line countries such as Italy and Greece.
He asked “President Macron to put words into action” by accepting 9000 other migrants “as a sign of concrete generosity and not just words”.
The meeting between MM. Macron and Conte remain scheduled until further notice, but the Italian Minister of Economy Giovanni Tria has canceled the one he had to have with his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, Wednesday afternoon in Paris.
A source at the French Ministry of Economy, however, told Reuters that it was only part of the delivery. “The two ministers have just talked on the phone. They agreed that Mr. Tria would come to Paris in the next few days, “she said.
In an interview with the daily Corriere della Sera , Minister Salvini also explained that Rome will not change position on vessels belonging to non-governmental organizations, such as Aquarius, which is managed by SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders.
“Vessels belonging to foreign organizations and flying foreign flags can not dictate Italy’s immigration policy,” he said.
This explains why an Italian coastguard boat, the Diciotti, docked Wednesday at the port of Catania, Sicily, with 937 migrants on board. This proves that the government is “neither inhuman nor xenophobic”, commented the Italian Minister of Transport, Danilo Toninelli.
An “axis” against illegal immigration brings together Rome, Berlin and Vienna
In parallel with this deterioration of relations between Paris and Rome, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Wednesday the creation of an “axis” bringing together the Austrian, German and Italian ministers of the Interior to counter illegal immigration.
In our opinion, we need an axis of volunteers in the fight against illegal immigration. […] There are more and more arrivals in Greece, new developments on the Albanian road. I think it is important not to wait for the disaster, as in 2015, but to act in time.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastien Kurz after meeting with German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer
Sebastien Kurz, who took the Chancellery at the end of 2017, also joining forces with the far right , has already indicated that the fight against illegal immigration will be the priority of his presidency of the European Union, which will open July 1st.
Like Italian Salvini, Austrian Interior Minister Herbet Kickl is also from the far right, while their German counterpart Horst Seehofer is considered a hawk on migration issues.
He is in conflict on this subject with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seeks rather to pull an agreement on a European asylum system for the European Union summit to be held in late June.
Italy regularly accuses its European partners of letting it manage the migration crisis alone and the 700,000 migrants who have arrived on its shores since 2013. Migration issues and relations with Europe have been at the heart of the electoral campaign Italian .
Several other Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, do not want a European distribution of refugees any more, and oppose the German Chancellor’s plan.