The conflicts between Italy and some of their neighbors over how to handle waves of incoming migrants and refugees have not abated much since the summer. Since the election of Italy’s new government, measures have been taken to ensure that their proximity to the point of departure for many seeking to cross the Mediterranian and reach Europe won’t be used as an excuse for their being expected to take in increasing numbers of new arrivals.
That argument came to a head yet again this month when Italy accused Malta of pushing more migrants onward toward Italy rather than taking them in themselves.This has prompted the new Interior Minister to issue a stern warning to the island nation, telling them that Italy will no longer be treated as “a refugee camp” for the rest of Europe. (From Katrina Pierson)
Italy‘s Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said he was “fed up” with the rest of Europe “treating Italy like a refugee camp.”
On Saturday, Mr. Salvini alleged the Maltese authorities gave fuel and a compass to a boat of 13 migrants to help them reach Lampedusa instead of welcoming them to their country as obliged by European agreements. On Sunday, the eurosceptic Lega leader claimed that if the allegation was proven to be true he would be ready to send “nasty letters” to Brussels and make Malta “pay for the consequences”.
Mr. Salvini also extended the warning to France following allegations of migrants being assisted by French authorities in crossing the Italo-Franco border.
The conversation is definitely heating up, as this video of Matteo Salvini speaking to reporters shows.
Previously the Italians have been talking about quotas and the responsibility to find lodging for migrants closer to their home countries, but now we’re dealing with something more specific regarding the rules of the seas. Italy claims that they have indications that both Malta and France have been encountering refugees and migrants, but rather than taking them in as “first safe nations,” those governments have been basically providing the migrants with supplies and directions to Italy, telling them to go there.
For their part, Malta claims that they can’t force anyone to accept an offer of asylum and the migrants in question insisted on going to Italy. They responded by providing them with some temporary help and sending them on their way. The stories are hard to verify, but if the migrants are looking to make it to the interior of Europe (and possibly even points further north with better welfare states, like Germany) it would make sense to try to make it to Italy rather than be stuck on the island of Malta.
Either way, problems with migrants in Italy have been flaring up to the point of violence and riots in the streets since last year. The aggressive tone that the Italians are now taking with both Malta and France spells even more trouble for EU harmony in the coming months. The Europen Union needs to figure out a better compromise or they may be facing more “exits” in the coming years.