Italy threatens to CANCEL Macron meeting as tensions SOAR in immigration clash

14 June, 2018, 12:43 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Malta supplies

Spain stepped in and said the migrants could land at the port of Valencia.

"The statements concerning Aquarius from France are surprising", the Italian Council stressed, adding that Rome won't tolerate receiving "hypocritical lessons from countries that preferred to divert the head "on the migrant crisis".

"If an official apology doesn't arrive, prime minister Conte would be right not to go to France", Salvini told reporters after demanding that France take in more migrants.

Macron said that "we have been working (with Italy) in an exemplary way for a year, we have reduced to a tenth the (migrant) landings thanks to work with Italy, in the Sahel".

The refusal to allow the ship to dock has been branded "shameful" by the United Nations refugee agency's chief Filippo Grandi, an Italian national.

On Tuesday, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux quoted President Emmanuel Macron as accusing Italy of acting with "a form of cynicism and a measure of irresponsibility".

Mr Macron had suggested Italy's new leadership was attempting to make a high-profile break with previous governments in refusing to take in the ship, instead of dealing with underlying issues such as development and security in the migrants' home countries.


The row centres on the charity ship Aquarius, which both Italy and Malta refused to let dock at their ports.

A boat full of migrants trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean sea.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria cancelled a meeting with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire while Foreign Minister Enrico Moavero Milanesi summoned the French ambassador and said French statements had been "unacceptable".

Austria's conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who since December has led a coalition government with the anti-migration Freedom Party, proposed the idea Wednesday of an "axis of the willing" - made up of Rome, Vienna and Berlin - to co-operate in tackling illegal immigration. Italian maritime vessels, however, are still docking in its ports: on Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with 932 migrants aboard.

Salvini has accused European aid groups of essentially operating taxi services for Libya-based human traffickers, and has said Italy will now refuse their rescue ships entry.

Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of a major political dispute and under revision - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe.

Salvini told the Senate he was open to a possible "axis" with Germany and Austria on immigration ahead of a key European Union summit at the end of June that will, in part, consider changes to European Union asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants. That has put pressure on Italy and Greece, the entry points for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty.

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