Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Italy demands French apology - English

France is the third country in Europe in terms of asylum applications after Germany and Italy France is the third country in Europe in terms of asylum applications after Germany and Italy
Deanna Wagner | 14 June, 2018, 12:43

French President Emmanuel Macron had blasted what he called Italy's cynicism and irresponsibility in turning away the Aquarius, which is operated by the humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee and the French-founded Doctors Without Borders.

Italy's Foreign Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi summoned the French ambassador to Rome over the comments on Wednesday, saying in a statement that "the Italian government considers unacceptable the words publicly pronounced yesterday in Paris".

The migrant ship Aquarius is now headed to Valencia in Spain. Salvini was harshly critical of Malta for refusing to take the migrant ship after Italy closed its ports to it.

"I speak in the name of a government, but I also have the aim of speaking for a people who have nothing to learn from anyone about generosity, volunteerism, welcome and solidarity", Salvini, the leader of the anti-migrant League party, said to applause in the Senate chamber.

Beau said while the rescue ship the association operates, the Aquarius, is travelling the 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) to Spain, new victims "are dying under our eyes".

"Italy can not accept hypocritical lessons about migration from countries that have always preferred to look away", said a statement from the office of Premier Giuseppe Conte.

"Similar statements are compromising relations between Italy and France", he said, adding that Paris should take action to "rectify the situation".

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"If an official apology doesn't arrive, prime minister Conte would be right not to go to France", Salvini told reporters after demanding that France take in more migrants.

The Aquarius has no showers or sinks for migrants on the ship, and the rescue workers rely on disinfectant spray to use for people's hands before their meals.

Salvini insisted Tuesday that the country's ports would no longer be open to foreign boats carrying migrants.

An Italian coast guard vessel has docked in Sicily with more than 900 migrants aboard, evidence that Italy's new anti-migrant government is still taking in some asylum-seekers but is forcing the rest of Europe to accept others.

Salvini, who last week said he would not allow Italy to become Europe's "refugee camp", told the Senate he was open to a possible "axis" with Germany and Austria ahead of a key European Union summit at the end of June that will consider possible changes to asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants.

A Dutch-flagged humanitarian ship, the Sea Watch 3, was called by a U.S. Navy vessel to take on board 41 survivors and 12 bodies recovered after a shipwreck on Tuesday.

"With my German and Austrian colleagues. we will propose a new [immigration] initiative", Salvini said, adding that it would apply both to the EU's external borders and to how member states manage migrants internally.