Italy Threatens To Cancel Macron Meeting Over Migrant Row

16 Juin, 2018, 12:53 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Matteo Salvini emmanuel Macron

Italy's new economy minister shelved a meeting with his French counterpart in Paris as their countries traded barbs over the treatment of more than 600 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast at the weekend.

Under the Dublin rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive, putting pressure on Italy and Greece, the main entry points for people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In addition, Italian minister of foreign affairs Enzo Moavero Milanese summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday morning to discuss the matter.

Operated by the charity SOS Mediterranee, the Aquarius carried 629 migrants and refugees on board.

Meanwhile, France said Wednesday it regretted Tria's decision to cancel the meeting and remained "committed to cooperation and dialogue" with Rome. As Italy has previously allowed government vessels to disembark migrants without incident, Sea-Watch expressed hope that the Trenton would be permitted to bring the survivors to shore herself if Sea-Watch 3 is blacklisted.

While Italy has taken much of the flak over the Aquarius, Macron has come in for criticism at home - for remaining silent for two days while the ship was adrift and then laying the blame exclusively at Italy's feet. Malta had refused permission for the Aquarius to berth in Malta, insisting that it was not the competent authority. The port is some 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) from where the ship had been on standby since Saturday night. "We hope they will arrive safe - as the boat was overcrowded and the journey is exhausting".

The Mediterranean remains the world's deadliest migration route and Italy has handled what it considers to be its fair share of migrants trying to reach Europe by boat.

Salvini added that Macron could prove that he cared about the issue by accepting around 9,500 migrants who should have been relocated in France over the past three years.

According to the latest figures, around 7000 migrants are stranded in Serbia.

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The contentious issue of how to deal with migrants is expected to dominate an European Union summit at the end of June.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he could not apologise for criticising Italy's hardline migrant stance in rejecting rescue ship Aquarius, saying "I can't say those who provoke are right".

More than 700,000 migrants have been ferried to Italy over the past five years, and although most want to move to Britain, France or Germany, in 2015 France suspended the Schengen agreement at the Italian frontier, leaving them "stuck".

More than 900 people have arrived at the Italian port of Catania in Sicily after being rescued at sea by the Italian Coast Guard.

On Monday, Spain said that it would be welcoming the Aquarius and allowing it to dock in Valencia.

The U.S. Sixth Fleet said it was coordinating with its partners on where the migrants will go next.

This after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with "cynicism and irresponsibility" by closing its ports to migrants.

"We must never give in to emotions, which some people manipulate", Macron told reporters while visiting western France on Wednesday.

The French president's office has confirmed his meeting with Mr Conte will still take place. It added that Italy was waiting for French to take action to "heal the situation that has been created".

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