Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s national-conservative prime minister, has called into question the commitment of the left-liberal governments of France and Germany to European solidarity, slamming both for having collectively relocated less than 100 of the 94,000 illegal migrants who’ve landed in Italy this year.
While speaking at the Italian parliament on Tuesday, Meloni, Italy’s first female prime minister, reminded lawmakers in the chamber that of the 94,000 illegal migrants who have landed on Italian shores so far this year, only 38 have been relocated to France while 57 have been relocated to Germany, the Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale reports.
The leader of sovereigntist Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) party said that it is unacceptable that affluent western EU states like France and Germany are not doing enough when it comes to handling the never-ending torrent of illegal migrants arriving to Italy. She accused both governments of being callously content with “Italy being the only port of disembarkation in Europe.”
This is an unacceptable response for Italy, Meloni asserted, adding that it must return to being regarded as an equal partner among other EU countries, especially those like France and Germany which enjoy disproportionate power and influence over the bloc.
“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,” Meloni said.
Then, the prime minister recalled an incident last month—one that prompted outrage in the French government—which saw Italy refuse to allow the Ocean Viking, a migrant transport ship operated by the French NGO SOS Méditerranée, to dock at an Italian port, forcing the vessel to disembark the hundreds of illegal migrants it had picked up off the coast of North Africa at the French port of Toulon instead.
Addressing her colleagues on the Left, Meloni continued, saying: “Didn’t the French reaction in front of the first NGO ship landing migrants in France strike you as strange? Italy is obliged to do what others are unwilling to do.”
In her concluding remarks, Meloni highlighted the role central and eastern European states are playing in the ongoing migration crisis, and spoke about the need to differentiate between genuine refugees and economic migrants.
“Poland alone welcomes one million Ukrainian refugees, the Czech Republic 500,000,” she said, adding that Italy has taken in more than 94,000 asylum seekers this year, only 30% of whom she says are genuine refugees.
“Are you sure this is the solution for Italy? We must distinguish between refugees and illegal migrants, otherwise we risk penalizing those who are most in need,” Meloni concluded.
Despite its promises to stop illegal migration—and despite having prevented the Ocean Viking from docking in November—Prime Minister Meloni’s government continues to allow migrant transport NGO vessels to offload unvetted foreigners, most of whom are single, military-aged men, onto Italian shores. In fact, on Sunday, December 1st, two of these NGO vessels—the Geo Barents and Humanity 1—together dropped off more than 500 migrants at Italian ports, InfoMigrants reported.
A few days later, on Thursday, December 8th, Meloni’s government allowed the German-flagged NGO boat Louise Michel to disembark 33 Egyptian nationals at the port of Lampedusa.