Italy demands apology for France's 'hypocritical' criticism on migrants

14 June, 2018, 03:14 | Author: Regina Silva

Italy summoned France's envoy on Wednesday and angrily rejected French criticism of its immigration policies, escalating a diplomatic standoff that is widening one of Europe's main political fault lines.

In a speech to the senate on Wednesday, Matteo Salvini - who is also Italy's interior minister and head of the nationalist League party - said that France had only taken in 640 of the more than 9,000 people it had promised to take from Italy.

France said it has received no formal request from Italy for an apology, and that it believed the planned meeting between Macron and Conte would go ahead.

Euronews correspondent Anelise Borges is on board the vessel, which is expected to arrive in Valencia in four days.

Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive. "Italy is right to say that this has to be shared more widely". Salvini's League scored its best election result in March elections after pledging to deport an additional estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants.

"The same can not be said of France, which has often adopted much more rigid and cynical immigration policies". Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said that Italy may have violated worldwide humanitarian law, while Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, commented: "Turning this into a political weapon is despicable.it is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

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Meanwhile Finance Minister Giovanni Tria announced that he would cancel an official visit to Paris, though his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire later said the two had agreed to reschedule their talks.

Italy summoned the French ambassador to protest and demanded an official apology.

Salvini also told the Senate he was open to a possible "axis" with Germany and Austria on immigration ahead of a key European Union summit at the end of June that will, in part, consider changes to European Union asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants.

France and Italy traded insults, rifts widened in Germany's ruling coalition and Austria called for an "axis of the willing" to take action as a simmering row over how Europe should handle irregular migration finally boiled over.

Amid mounting cross-party concern that German asylum policy is in disarray, Seehofer, of the Bavarian conservative CSU party, met Austria's chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

On Wednesday morning, an Italian coast guard vessel with 937 migrants and two bodies aboard docked in Catania, Sicily, while the Aquarius headed into increasingly rough seas on its way to Valencia, where it is due to arrive on Saturday. Some countries feel justified in stopping migrants from entering when they should have registered elsewhere.

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