France’s decision to dock migrants from the Ocean Viking NGO ship after Italy refused to take them in has sparked a political firestorm in the country. The move has apparently prompted former Interior Minister Gérard Collomb to break his silence, revealing a number of politically damaging allegations directed at French President Emmanuel Macron.
Collomb gave France’s Le Point magazine information that contradicts the French government claim that taking in 234 illegal immigrants from the Ocean Viking ship was “an extraordinary” one-time decision. In fact, according to Collomb, Macron had actually been pushing to open a migrant reception center in Toulon already in 2018, which is the same port that received the Ocean Viking NGO ship.
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“The European Commission had launched the idea of ’controlled centers’ to receive migrants. Shortly after, the heads of state, meeting especially to deal with migratory problems, resumed this project, with Emmanuel Macron showing himself to be one of the most favorable to it,” said Collomb. “Emmanuel Macron then proposed (in 2018) to open such a center either in Toulon or in Marseille, and he asked the prefect at the time, Pierre Dartout, to work there. I was minister of the interior at the time, and I was totally against this project.”
The magazine then asks Collomb why he was against the proposal, and he answered:
“All my teams were showing me that given French and European legislation, if we welcome migrants to this type of center, we won’t be able to get them to leave and we will end up in the same situation as Italy, Malta, and Greece, which are countries of first arrivals.”
However, perhaps the most revealing portion of the interview is that Collomb kept this information from the French public in order to deny Marine Le Pen an election victory. When asked why he did not speak out sooner about Macron’s intention to start accepting boat migrants, he responded, “I never intended to do that. If I had said that at the time, I would have seriously harmed Emmanuel Macron. If I had spoken before the presidential election, my intervention could have reversed the result of this election, and Marine Le Pen could have been elected. That’s why I kept silent.”
National Rally parliamentary leader Marine Le Pen wrote on Twitter that Collomb “confirms the immigrationist vision that Emmanuel Macron has in fact never ceased to have. We must now listen to the will of the French and put an end to this anarchic and massive immigration, which is creating chaos in our country.”
She further slammed Collomb for keeping quiet about Macron’s plans to create a new reception center to accept migrants in Toulon in order to deny her the election.
“He admits that he knew and that he kept quiet, deceiving the French in order to avoid my election. Know that many of them are betraying you!” she wrote while citing a passage from Collomb’s interview.
Collomb further described during the interview how Macron was “insisting” on opening the migrant reception center in Toulon or Marseilles, but that on Oct. 1, 2018, he attended a memorial for two girls, Laura and Mauranne, who were murdered by an illegal immigrant; Collomb detailed that there were concerns from politicians in Marseilles about how the French public would respond to the opening of such a migrant reception center.
Laura and Mauranne were two young French women murdered by an illegal Tunisian immigrant in 2018; one girl was disemboweled and the other had her throat slashed. The man had been released from jail just two days before.
“I then thought: ‘I don’t want this to happen again.’ And if I allow the installation of this (migrant) control center to take place, I will later feel responsible for acts that could lead to the death of people. This is why, two days later, I decided to resign. And immediately afterwards, I texted the father of one of the young victims to tell him that it was with his daughter in mind that I made this decision,” said Collomb.
Collomb said he is choosing now to reveal Macron’s ambitions because he “thought the matter was settled. We had refused to welcome the (migrant ship) L’Aquarius in 2018. Emmanuel Macron had then shown firmness and the subject of ‘controlled centers’ seemed to me to belong to the past. But now, welcoming the Ocean Viking, a new breach is opened, creating a precedent. For me, this can only encourage the networks of smugglers for whom migrants are a source of considerable earnings – the figures vary from €7 to €30 billion worldwide.”
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“In the case of the Ocean Viking, we realize that it is these networks that have brought the migrants to Libya, and that downstream, those who want to reach England, for example, will be taken over by these same networks with the consequence that we have seen this summer, when an impressive number of migrants drowned in the English Channel.”
French politicians opposed to Macron’s government are pointing to Collomb’s new interview as a sign that Macron’s claims about getting tough on immigration are mostly political theater.
“Gérard Collomb’s confessions are profound: They confirm that our leaders know the dangers of being flooded with migrants (terrorism, insecurity, loss of identity) but deliberately choose to pursue it. For them, immigration is not a problem, it is a project,” wrote National Rally leader Jordan Bardella.
The issue of migration is once again at the forefront of the public debate in France following the murder and rape of 12-year-old Lola by an illegal Algerian migrant who has long had a deportation order. Further data revealed that less than 7 percent of migrants are deported despite Macron saying his aim was a 100 percent deportation rate.