Salvini blocks two more NGO vessels from entering Italian ports
On Saturday Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warned that another two migrant rescue vessels arriving from the Libyan coast would not be allowed to dock with their "human cargo" at an Italian port.
Published: June 17, 2018, 8:36 am
Last week Salvini blocked the French NGO operated vessel Aquarius from entering an Italian port with more than 600 migrants on board. Spain has allowed the Aquarius to dock and it is expected at the port of Valencia today.
Salvini warned on his Facebook page: “While the Aquarius is sailing towards Spain, two other Dutch NGO operated vessels (Lifeline and Seefuchs) have arrived from the Libyan coast, to wait for their human cargos once the people smugglers abandon them.
“These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports [not Italian] where to go.”
A private German NGO working onboard one of the vessels tweeted that “the fascists” were providing them with “advertising”. Salvini called the notion “crazy” and warned that the “good days” for migrants and NGOs were over.
The NGO deleted its original tweet, saying “No, Matteo Salvini is of course not a fascist.”
5Star Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli on Saturday tweeted that the Netherlands should “recall the two rescue vessels [because] they are not properly equipped to save lives.”
Salvini has not softened his position of the tidal wave of migrants engulfing Italy. “We are under attack. Our culture, society, traditions and way of life are at risk. The colour of one’s skin has nothing to do with it, but the risk is very real. Centuries of history risk disappearing if Islamisation, which up until now has been underestimated, gains the upper hand.”
He added: “As a father and as a minister, they can attack and threaten me all they want, but I won’t give up and I’m doing it for everybody’s sake.”
After Rome’s decision to ban the Aquarius, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met on Friday in Paris for talks to smooth over the growing diplomatic spat between the two countries. Both agreed that the EU should set up asylum processing centres in Africa to prevent “voyages of death”.
At their meeting in Paris, Macron and Conte also demanded “profound” changes to the EU’s asylum rules since the burden has been resting on countries in which the ports of entry to Europe are – mainly Italy and Greece.
Salvini noted on Friday, expressly using terms attributed to Macron criticising Italy’s rejection of the Aquarius, that France may be aiding the smugglers. There are “cynical and irresponsible” French officials pushing back migrants at the border at Ventimiglia, Salvini said.
“From the premier’s summit in France I expect respect and concrete help. At Ventimiglia the cynical and irresponsible ones are over the border,” he said as Conte met Macron in Paris.
Salvini also cited France and Macron in particular when talking about the planned introduction of Tasers to Italy.
“They use them in many civilised European countries, from Britain to France, and so Macron can’t criticise us on this”. According to Italian news agency ANSA, Macron telephoned Conte on Thursday claiming that he had not said the words attributed to him, allowing the summit to go ahead.
Conte on Friday called for the European Union to process Africans in their own countries to stop an exodus towards Europe. “We must turn the page on migrants” he said, singling out Libya, Niger and other sub-Saharan nations, according to an AFP report.
Conte added that “no one in Europe can wash their hands of the migrant crisis”. He also announced an Italo-French summit in Rome this autumn, as “the Dublin regulation must change: Italy is against and is preparing is own proposal that it looks forward to sharing with the other partners in view of formalising it at the next Austrian EU presidency”.
While Italy has said that other NGO ships would be rejected, Macron said that if a ship was in French waters “we will take charge of it”.
Some of the migrants aboard the Aquarius will be allowed to settle in France, Spain’s deputy prime minister told CNN on Saturday.
France made the offer via its ambassador to Spain, Deputy PM Carmen Calvo said in a statement. Spain’s President, Pedro Sanchez, has thanked the French President for his offer.
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