Last week, Italy’s sudden denial to let NGO ships carrying allegedly ‘rescued’ migrants dock at its port had left France’s mouth agape with incredulity. Italy had made it clear to Germany and France that it won’t solely intake all the migrants. After which, Paris and Rome locked themselves in a war of words. Italy has already made it clear that the country is no longer interested in the agreement that the three countries signed years ago.
France, however, was not ready to back down. But now, when the EU has also refused to help them, France has now reversed its stance. Italy has triumphed in the first round of the migrant war.
According to a media report by Euractiv, France has accepted the migrant ship which Italy had denied a few days ago. According to reports, the rescue ship carrying 230 migrants ultimately berthed at the French port of Toulon on November 11th, amidst a fiery argument between France and Italy over who should bear responsibility for the appalling conditions the migrants.
As Italy’s coast is the closest to where the migrants were rescued, the Ocean Viking ship had initially requested access on the eastern coast of Sicily, claiming that the hygienic and health conditions onboard were rapidly deteriorating. However, for the first time ever, Italy refused to dock these migrants, claiming that other countries should bear more of the burden for housing the tens of thousands of migrants who attempt to cross from North Africa to Europe each year.
France left in a huff
After this, France blatantly criticized Italy for refusing to take in more than 200 migrants. Paris stressed, “ Rome’s actions are incomprehensible”. Immediately after this, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni rebuked that she is surprised by the French government’s “aggressive” tone. Furthermore, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin also warned that “Italy’s refusal to accept the migrants will have “severe consequences” for Italy’s bilateral relations with France and with the European Union as a whole.”
But, France’s read the riot act against Rome had zero effect on Meloni. The Italian government is moving ahead with its drafted measures to curb the entry of migrants via NGOs backed by France and Germany. Rome is stressing that these NGOs have violated procedure by not properly coordinating their rescues, thus making Italy compelled to lay the groundwork to close the ports. Seeing all this happening, it appears that France has accepted the fact that Meloni is a hard nut to crack.
Italy: A hellhole for migrants
France had called for EU members to sever its ties with Italy over the migration issue. But, Meloni has stressed it would not be “intelligent” for the EU to isolate Italy. Furthermore, as per the Italian premier, her country has already taken in almost 90,000 migrants this year, while Ocean Viking, with 234 on board, was the first NGO rescue boat that France had accepted.
It is no hidden fact that the new conservative government in Italy has long vowed to tackle the migration crisis. In addition, Italy’s new prime minister is the first prominent conservative leader since World War Two. She has long campaigned for halting migrant boats and called for equal responsibilities within the Union.
France was taken off guard when such direct criticism from another EU nation came its way. But, Italy is doing nothing unlawful. The fact that member states like Germany and France have never successfully carried out their obligations, gives Italy, without a doubt, the moral and legal high ground in this situation. Now that Meloni has harshly criticized their actions, the other member states are in a huff.