Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on June 13 in Rome
The controversy between France and Italy over the migrants of the Aquarius is still mounted a notch Wednesday: Rome, which demands an apology from Paris, summoned the French ambassador and threatened to cancel a meeting between leaders French and Italian Friday in Paris.
After 72 hours of crisis in the Mediterranean, the Aquarius finally began its long journey Tuesday night to Spain, who agreed to open the port of Valencia, where he should arrive this weekend with 629 migrants on board .
Statements by French President Emmanuel Macron denouncing „the cynical and irresponsible part of the Italian government“ after his refusal to host the Aquarius have been very badly received in Rome: strong man of the Italian government and boss of the League (extreme right), Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has demanded an apology from France.
Otherwise, he threatened, it would be better to cancel the meeting scheduled Friday in Paris between Emmanuel Macron and the head of the Italian government Giuseppe Conte: „If the official excuses do not arrive, the Prime Minister Conte will make a good thing by not going to France „.
Almost at the same time, the number two of the French Embassy in Rome Claire Anne Raulin was received at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is the second convocation of this kind, after an incident in late March already linked to the migration crisis, which regularly inflamed relations between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi, who personally received Ms. Raulin, stressed before her the „unacceptable“ character of the statements made in Paris after the Italian refusal to host the Aquarius.
Giuseppe Conte had reacted as early as Tuesday to the words of Macron: „Italy can not accept hypocritical lessons from countries that have preferred to turn their heads in immigration“
– ‚Unjustifiable tones‘ –
„Such statements compromise the relations between Italy and France“ and „the tones used are unjustifiable,“ said Wednesday Mr. Moavero, according to a statement from Farnesina.
France must pass „from words to deeds“ after pledging to welcome migrants from the peninsula, which it still has not done, said his side Mr. Salvini.
Faced with these tensions, Paris has tried to calm the game: France is „committed to dialogue and cooperation“ with Italy on the management of the migration crisis, said Wednesday a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. „We are perfectly aware of the burden that the pressure of migration poses on Italy and the efforts that this country provides.No comments made by the French authorities have of course questioned this.
The escalation between the two countries comes before a crucial European Council on 28-29 June, which should focus in particular on the issue of migrants, and which was to be prepared by MM. Macron and Conte Friday in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on June 9 at G7 in Canada
Conte is still officially expected in Paris, but „days of rapprochement and great work embassies are now in danger“, warned Wednesday the daily La Repubblica, close to the left.
Along with the deterioration of relations with Paris is outlined a new „axis in the fight against illegal immigration“ between Rome, Berlin and Vienna, officialized Wednesday by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz: „I am pleased with the good cooperation we want to build between Rome, Vienna and Berlin „in this area, he said Wednesday in Berlin.
Italy regularly accuses its European partners, starting with France, of leaving it alone in the face of the migration crisis and the 700,000 migrants who have landed on its shores since 2013.
„France is pushing migrants every day to Ventimiglia“, on the French-Italian border, as Facebook Vice Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Stars Movement (M5S, antisystem), reminded.
The Italian authorities are all the more bitter that the arrivals are far from drying up, despite the firmness displayed by Mr. Salvini against the Aquarius.
On Wednesday, an Italian ship carrying more than 900 migrants arrived in the port of Catania, Sicily, the day after the departure for Spain of Aquarius.
„It’s not because there are no NGOs that the departures stop, as we have seen in recent days, people are fleeing from Libya,“ warned a spokesman in Catania from the NGO SOS Méditerranée, Mathilde Auvillain,.