Italy’s conservative government appears to be giving up on its fight against immigration before it even began despite running on a campaign to control Italy and Europe’s borders. This time, top officials from Girogia Meloni’s government attended a “refugees welcome” ceremony at Rome International Airport, where 114 migrants were flown in from Libya.
At the airport, the arriving migrants were greeted by the type of NGOs and left-wing activists that conservatives, populists, and even some on the left have long warned against. Italian Minister of Interior Matteo Piantedosi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani also attended the welcome ceremony; the duo, as can be seen in the Remix News video below, were front and center for a photo op welcoming migrants from countries such as Syria, South Sudan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Eritrea.
During the welcome ceremony, UNHCR Italian representative Chiara Cardoletti called for more immigration, saying, “Unfortunately you are the lucky ones because there are more than 2 million refugees in need of being urgently evacuated, and this year only 40,000 had this possibility. I am talking to the European Union and I urge it to take the initiative and give such an important chance to more people like you.”
The welcome event has left conservatives scratching their head, wondering how the Italian government went from being heralded as a new champion against mass immigration to receiving immigrants at Italy’s airports, alongside activists who are calling for 2 million migrants to be accepted to Italy. The reality is also that Cardoletti’s figures are far from accurate, with surveys showing there are tens of millions of Africans who want to travel to Italy and Europe.
Last month, Girogia Meloni made international headlines over her opposition to boat migrants landing in Italy. At the time, Minister for Relations with Parliament Luca Ciriani said while speaking on the “Agorà” show on the Rai3 television channel that “if Germany believes there is a humanitarian problem, it should take care of it; Italy cannot become the refuge of all immigrants.”
Much has changed in a month, and Meloni’s position was greatly watered down in a matter of days, with the country allowing the vast majority of the migrants to dock. Meloni pointed out that Italy had already accepted 90,000 illegal immigrants in 2022; but she was then taken aback by the outrage in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin and appeared to greatly backtrack from her initial stance of allowing no boats at all.
As Remix News reported, the Italian government has been weakened in the face of financial sanctions threats over rule of law from the EU — meaning that it is far less likely than the Italian government of 2018 featuring Matteo Salvini as interior minister to challenge Brussels on issues such as migration.
Still, it is one thing to be pushed around by the EU, grit your teeth, and accede to Brussels’ diktats, and quite another to scramble in front of the cameras and smile with pro-migration activists, as was on display in Rome.
It is also true that the “humanitarian corridor” project, which has brought in 500 people so far this year, is coordinated by the UNHCR, was already funded by the Italian government, and had other financial backers — from the Catholic Saint Egidio community and Italian evangelical churches to the Waldensian church. In other words, Italy’s Catholic/Christian establishments are greatly responsible for pushing these efforts.
All of this means that much of the program was already in place, and it is unlikely that the incoming government is in any position to cancel it, especially given the current political situation. Nevertheless, Italy’s conservatives are discrediting themselves by outright promoting this event.
Nobody can blame any of these migrants for wanting to come to Europe, but the voters in Italy clearly did not sign up for more immigration, whether legal or illegal. There is nothing abnormal about holding this position either. Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and many other wealthier countries have decided that both legal and illegal immigration threaten social cohesion, economic interests, and their ethnic makeup, and these countries have acted accordingly.
Much of Europe’s future rests in Italy’s hands and the success of the current Meloni government, which is why this government needs to stop trying to win a pat on the back from the very people that want to see it wiped off the political map.