France - Italy - immigration

France says Italy acting in ‘hysterical’ manner on immigration issues

The African immigrants who were on the Sea Watch 3 rescue boat, after they docked in Lampedusa, Italy, June 2019
The African immigrants who were on the Sea Watch 3 rescue boat, after they docked in Lampedusa, Italy, June 2019 G.Mangiapane

France has accused the Italian government of failing to carry out its duties in terms of immigration, claiming Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been constructing a ‘hysterical’ climate on the subject of immigration.


"Mr. Matteo Salvini's behaviour has not been acceptable as far as I am concerned," French government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye said on French television BFM-TV.

"This is a painful subject, a complex subject which the EU and France have previously been in solidarity with Italy over," she added.

Salvini, from the far-right La Lega party, has approved even more stringent anti-immigrant measures, which removes protection for those seeking asylum, making it easier for swift deportations.

"My behaviour regarding immigration is unacceptable? The French government should stop with these insults and open its ports (to migrants)," according to a statement released by Salvini.

"Italians have already received too many (migrants) and spent too much. The next boats? They should head to Marseilles," he added, referring to a French city in the south.

Lampedusa incident 

His comments refer to the incident last week, where a German captain in her ship of 41 African migrants, decided to come to port in Lampedusa, Italy after being kept at sea for more than two weeks.

The Italian government wants non-government rescue ships to be prevented from docking in Italy, as a way of deterring immigrants from coming ashore.

The captain said that she feared some of the Africans would commit suicide, so she decided to some in to port anyway. She faces criminal charges.

France has decried this policy, adding to an already tense diplomatic situation between the two European countries. Paris even briefly recalled its ambassador from Rome last February over what it called “repeated, baseless” verbal sniping by Italian political leaders against the French.

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