Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni criticized the French and German governments during an appearance in the Italian parliament on Tuesday, calling into question their European solidarity after taking in less than 100 relocated migrants between them from Italy this year.
Ahead of an EU Council summit in Brussels later this week, Meloni recalled that “of the 94,000 (migrants) landed” in Italy this year, “the relocated migrants are 38 in France and 57 in Germany,” a figure she derided as laughable. She claimed it was unacceptable that this has been the response of affluent European nations content with “Italy being the only port of disembarkation in Europe.”
“I believe that in Europe the same rights and duties of everyone must apply, I believe that the solution that can make everyone agree is to stop departures and defend the European borders,” the Italian prime minister told colleagues.
“Didn’t it seem strange to you?” Meloni asked left-wing members of the parliament, referring to the recent French outrage over being forced by Italy to accept a French-registered humanitarian vessel in the port of Toulon. “Italy is required to do what others are not willing to do,” she added.
Italy allows only the vulnerable to disembark migrant NGO ships, orders captains to leave with adult males still onboard
Italian authorities permitted women and children as well as men in need of medical care to enter the country, but refused access to 250 adult males on board the NGO humanitarian vessels
The Italian prime minister reminded colleagues that while richer EU nations are neglecting their duties, much of eastern and central Europe is playing its part in facing the ongoing migrant crisis, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Poland alone welcomes 1 million Ukrainian refugees, the Czech Republic 500,000,” she said before highlighting the 94,000 taken in by Italy, of whom she claims only 30 percent have the right to asylum.
“Are you sure this is the solution for Italy?” Meloni asked colleagues regarding the continuous acceptance of humanitarian vessels. “We have to distinguish between refugees and illegal migrants, otherwise we risk penalizing those who are most in need,” she concluded.
Diplomatic relations between Rome and Paris — and to a lesser extent Berlin — have been strained since early last month when Meloni’s new administration took a stand against the humanitarian vessels continuously using Italian ports to allow migrants picked up in the Mediterranean to disembark on EU territory.
Many of the rescue vessels are registered to other European countries, such as Germany and France; Meloni gave the order to allow the vulnerable to enter Italy, while refusing access to adult males who she suggested should seek assistance from EU countries that have taken in fewer numbers.
Despite its initial stand, Italy continues to accept humanitarian rescue vessels with migrants on board. On Thursday night, the privately registered German ship, the Louise Michel, was permitted to dock on the island of Lampedusa with 33 Egyptian nationals allowed to disembark.