Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Friday rejected France’s “aggressive, incomprehensible and unjustified” response after France allowed the rescue ship Ocean Viking to dock after Italy refused to do so. “I was deeply affected by the reaction of the French government,” she said.
The ship of the NGO SOS Méditerranée docked Friday in the coastal city of Toulon in southern France. There, the 230 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya could land.
France’s interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, gave permission for the Ocean Viking to dock in Toulon on Thursday. He described it as a “duty towards humanity.” According to him, that was an exception because the Italian authorities made the people on the plane wait fifteen days. Darmanin denounced Italy’s “incomprehensible choice” not to allow the ship to dock and accused Rome “of not behaving as a responsible European state”. Darmanin added that France would “draw conclusions” from Italy’s position on other aspects of its “bilateral relations”.
Meloni said in response that she wanted to find a “European solution” to the immigration issue. “It is not smart to argue with France, Spain, Greece, Malta or other countries. I want to find a common solution,” she said.
The Italian prime minister reiterated what Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantidosi said on Thursday. He pointed out that Italy received nearly 90,000 immigrants this year, while European countries that pledged to help and receive 8,000 people ended up receiving only 117.
According to Meloni, “something is not working” in Europe’s management of migrants, and she stressed that “no agreement has been reached” for Italy to be “the only possible port of arrival in the Mediterranean”.
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