ITALY has hit back at France’s president after he branded its government “irresponsible” and “cynical” for turning away a rescue boat full of migrants.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini defended the decision to reject the Aquarius vessel which was stranded in the Mediterranean for days with 629 migrants on board.
AP:Associated Press Italy hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron after he criticised them for turning away a boat full of migrants
Two Italian ships are escorting the Aquarius to Spain after new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stepped up and offered them safe harbour.
Today, Salvini challenged French leader Emmanuel Macron to take in more asylum seekers and demanded an apology for criticising the move.
Italy summoned the French ambassador for talks, cancelled a planned meeting between finance ministers and warned the relationship between the nations had been soured.
Salvini lashed out at its European neighbours, saying they have taken only a fraction of the 9,816 migrants it pledged to under a 2015 EU relocation plan.
EPA Macron branded the decision irresponsible and cynical
EPA New Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini demanded an apology from Macron
EPA The Aquarius rescue vessel and two Italian ships are now taking the migrants to Spain
AP:Associated Press Spain agreed to take in the 629 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean
Addressing Parliament, he urged Macron to take in the “9,000 [migrants] France promised to welcome as a sign of concrete generosity”.
In a fiery inaugural speech, Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte branded Europe’s immigration policy a “failure” and vowed to redistribute migrants evenly throughout the bloc.
Conte, who was sworn in as head of Europe’s first “populist” government on June 1, said other nations must take more refugees and help to send back those who were refused asylum.
Salvini, whose coalition promised to get tough on immigration, yesterday declared Italy’s decision to turn away the Aquarius a “victory”.
AFP or licensors More than 600 migrants faced days adrift at sea after Italy refused them entry
AFP or licensors Tempers flared on the Aquarius rescue vessel which is now on its way to Valencia, Spain
REUTERS Italy’s new deputy PM declared the decision to refuse the migrants a ‘victory’
AFP The migrants, rescued off the coast of Libya, will be taken to Spain as stormy weather approaches
The Aquarius and two Italian ships carrying the migrants are expected to arrive in Valencia, around 930 miles from where it had been stranded, on Saturday night
The standoff appeared to be a tactic by Italy’s new government to force Europe’s hand at the upcoming summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
The summit is due to consider changes to asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants.