‘Arrogant' Macron risks becoming 'enemy No. 1' on migration for Italy – Rome
Top Italian officials lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron, who said migration pressure on Italy seriously dropped over the past year. Macron was branded “arrogant,” and risks becoming a top “enemy” to Rome on migration.
"Italy indeed faces a migration emergency and it's partly because France keeps pushing back people at the border. Macron risks making his country Italy's No.1 enemy on this emergency," Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday. The comments made earlier by Macron clearly showed that the French president was out of touch, Di Maio added.
Macron drew the wrath of Italy by stating that "Europe is not experiencing a migration crisis of the same magnitude as the one it experienced in 2015." Those EU countries, which "massively voice their national selfishness when it comes to migrant issues," should not expect to receive benefits from the EU, Macron said, effectively threatening them with financial sanctions.
"A country like Italy has not at all the same migratory pressure as last year. ... The crisis we are experiencing today in Europe is a political crisis," Macron added, targeting Rome directly.
The comment did not go down well with Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. In a counter statement, he claimed that Italy faced 650,000 arrivals by sea over the past four years, with 430,000 asylum requests. He also added that the country currently hosts 170,000 "alleged refugees" for a staggering overall cost of 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion).
"If for the arrogant President Macron this is not a problem, we invite him to stop insulting and to show instead some concrete generosity by opening up France's many ports and letting children, men and women through at Ventimiglia," Salvini stated, referencing the Italian town on the French border.
The relations between France and Italy have been strained over the past few weeks, following Rome’s decision to close its ports to the migrant rescue ship ‘Aquarius,’ which had 629 people on board. The new Italian government explained it made the move due to a lack of “European solidarity,” as the country had to deal with migrant and human trafficking problems “all by itself.”
The decision to block the ‘Aquarius’ from entering Italy was met with a barrage of bitter criticism. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, however, firmly rejected the “hypocritical lessons” from those who, “in terms of immigration had always preferred to turn their head to the other side.”
“In the Mediterranean...there’s Malta that does now welcome anyone, there is France that rejects [refugees] at its borders, there’s Spain that defends its borders with the arms. Basically, everyone in Europe does their own business,” Salvini said back then.
Some European politicians approved of Rome’s actions, namely Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said the country decided to protect its maritime borders “at last.” Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have been among the counties opposing the EU migrant relocation schemes and urging the union to actually protect its external borders.
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