Declaring that Italy can no longer serve as “Europe’s refugee camp,” newly installed interior minister Matteo Salvini pledged on Sunday to press EU officials for asylum law reform that allows stricter controls on illegal immigration.
During a visit to one of Europe’s most grim migrant reception centres in the southern Sicilian port of Pozzallo, Mr Salvini said tragic shipwrecks off the coasts of Tunisia and Turkey that left dozens dead over the weekend could have been prevented.
“Every life is sacred – to save lives you have to stop the departures of these death boats, which is a lucrative business for some and a disgrace for the rest of the world,” said Mr Salvini, who was sworn in as interior minister Friday as part of the new populist government formed by his far-Right League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
The attempt to shape the migration issue around saving lives was a shift in rhetoric for the young firebrand who rose to power on an anti-immigration platform promising to boot out more than 500,000 people with a “kick in the a***.”
On Saturday he told a rally in the north: “The good times for illegals is over – get ready to pack your bags”.
But while softening his delivery for a broader European audience, his message in advance of an EU meeting on asylum policy on Tuesday remained unchanged.
“Fewer landings and more expatriations. It is not a hard line, just common sense,” Mr Salvini , who joins a long list of Italian leaders to call for changes in the EU’s Dublin Treaty, which mandates that asylum seekers are processed in the country of their arrival.
The visit came as Tunisia’s defence ministry said more than 35 migrants were killed when their boat sank off the country’s coast on Sunday. Earlier in the day, nine migrants, including six children, drowned when a boat capsized off Turkey.
After nearly three months of political chaos, leaders of Italy’s new populist governing coalition were eager to show they’re ready to go to work.
Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio posted video of himself settling into his new office, while Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte took calls from fellow European leaders, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, who invited him to Berlin for “open and constructive” talks.
“I will openly approach and work with the new Italian government rather than speculating on its intentions,” she told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper. “Germany has an elementary interest in an effective Europe.”
The German chancellor refused to be drawn on fears the new government may pull Italy out of the Euro.
“It is my basic belief that every election result and every democratically elected government deserves respect,” she said.
Mrs Merkel also said she wanted to talk with Italian leaders about helping young people find work and restated her belief that a common asylum system is the answer to Europe’s migration concerns.
“We need uniform procedures at the European external borders, and the Frontex European border management agency has to become a real European border police. At the final stage, we need a common European refugee agency, which carries out all asylum procedures at the external borders on the basis of a single European asylum law.”
Mr Salvini was quick to capitalize on Germany’s support, telling reporters outside the fenced Pozzallo hotspot “even Merkel says Italy has been left too long on its own.”
A small group of protesters held up “welcome refugees” banners outside the centre during Mr Salvini’s visit, expressing concerns that the leader’s rhetoric could incite violence against the already vulnerable population.
Police are investigating two separate attacks against migrants over the weekend in southern Italy, including the death of a 29-year-old old migrant from Mali, who was shot in the head by an unidentified gunman from several hundred metres away as he entered an abandoned factory Saturday night to search for scrap metal to sell on the black market.
Two other men present were also wounded. All were registered residents of the San Ferdinando tent city near Vibo Valentia, one of Italy’s worst migrant ghettos.
In Naples, a Pakistani kebab shop owner was hospitalised after a group of men burst into his eatery and beat him with motorcycle helmets.
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/03/italy-can-no-longer-serve-europes-refugee-camp-says-matteo-salvini/