Wednesday 20 November 2019

Italy 'won't become refugee camp of EU', warns hardliner

Defiant: Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has lashed out at France. Photo: Reuters
Defiant: Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has lashed out at France. Photo: Reuters

Josephine McKenna

Italy's hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini has warned that his country would not become "the refugee camp of Europe" as he continued to attack France for dumping illegal migrants over the border.

Mr Salvini used social media to say he would not be taking lessons from Emmanuel Macron, the French president, or Christophe Castaner, his new interior minister, whom he dubbed "Macron and friends".

He tweeted: "The French interior minister accuses me of 'systematic refusal to every type of opening'. Are these the lessons from Macron and his friends who 'unload' migrants in Italian forests at night? No thanks."

He then issued an invitation to his French counterpart to visit Rome and rebuild the testy bilateral relationship.

The minister said Italy would continue to patrol the borders as he dispatched extra police to Claviere, the Italian alpine town that borders France, after three illegal migrants were dumped there by French gendarmes over a week ago. "Italy is no longer fearful, resigned to being the refugee camp of Europe and to taking orders from Brussels and Berlin," Mr Salvini said.

"I'm waiting for the French minister in Rome, but in the meantime we will continue to patrol the borders. We are a country that has lifted its head up again: those who have not yet understood that should realise it."

Last week, the French government admitted to an "error" after French police were identified driving across the border and caught on CCTV releasing the migrants without notifying authorities.

Tensions escalated between Rome and Paris when Mr Salvini released video of the incident on social media.

On Saturday the minister, who also heads the anti-immigrant League Party, tweeted in capital letters: "Update on Claviere, no more kidding around! I sent patrols."

Mr Castaner said he had no interest in intensifying the debate and looked forward to meeting Mr Salvini and finding common solutions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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