Italy threatens to CANCEL Macron meeting as tensions SOAR in immigration clash

Irving Hamilton
June 14, 2018

Salvini, who is also deputy premier and the leader of the anti-immigrant League party, called on France to apologise and said he was not prepared to take criticism from a country which regularly stopped migrants on their shared border.

"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.

Italy escalated its standoff with France over migration Wednesday, challenging Paris to take in more asylum-seekers and demanding an apology after the French president accused the new populist Italian government of cynical, irresponsible behaviour by refusing entry to a rescue ship with 600 people aboard.

"The Italian government has never abandoned the nearly 700 people aboard the Aquarius", it said in a statement on Tuesday. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said France was "fully aware of the burden that the migration pressure is placing on Italy" and that it was committed to cooperating with Rome on immigration.

Italy's new populist government came under fire Tuesday from its European Union neighbours after refusing to let a foreign NGO boat carrying 629 mostly African migrants dock in Italy.

More than 1.8 million migrants have entered Europe since 2014.

Hours later, the Italian government said it could not "take hypocritical lessons from countries who have always preferred to look the other way on immigration issues".

"Such statements are undermining relations between Italy and France", Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

City watches, waits as raccoon gets stuck after scaling Minnesota building
Paul's Town Square building tried to tempt the raccoon down with an impromptu plywood pole, but the critter was having none of it. As you can see in the image below, it seems the general public may be more concerned about the situation than the raccoon is.

In Germany, the hardline interior minister, Horst Seehofer, pulled out of an integration summit hosted by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, saying Berlin should cooperate with Vienna and Rome in combating illegal immigration. Spain stepped up and offered the Aquarius safe harbor after Italy and Malta both refused.

"So I ask President Macron to pass from words to action and tomorrow morning welcome the 9,000 France promised to welcome as a sign of concrete generosity and not just words", Salvini said to applause in the Senate chamber.

The country has seen more than 700,000 migrants arrive on its shores since 2013.

The case has reopened one of the main unresolved faultlines in European politics: how to share responsibility for migrants trying to enter the bloc from conflict zones and poor countries, mainly across Africa and the Middle East.

Salvini earlier underlined that Italy's ports would no longer be open to foreign boats carrying migrants.

They were saved during several rescue operations off the coast of Libya.

The Diciotti ship arrived at the port of Catania and the migrants began to disembark, an AFP photographer saw.

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