Tuesday 21 May 2019

Salvini vows to block migrant charter flights


Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini

Josephine McKenna

Italy's far-right interior minister has threatened to close the country's airports to block the rumoured repatriation of migrants on charter flights from Germany.

In a move likely to anger Berlin, Matteo Salvini, the head of the anti-immigrant League party and deputy prime minister, yesterday said he would shut the airports in the same way he defied EU laws and closed Italy's ports to prevent migrant arrivals.

He was responding to reports that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was preparing to send the first group of 40 migrants back to Italy on two flights scheduled to land in Rome this week.

Reports in Italy say up to 40,000 migrants could be repatriated from Germany to Italy ahead of the Bavarian elections next week, but the Italian government has denied there is an agreement to step up migrant returns.

Mr Salvini tweeted: "If anyone in Berlin or Brussels is thinking of dumping immigrants in Italy through unauthorised charter flights they should know there is not and will not be any airport available. We will close the airports like we closed the ports."

A spokesman for Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister, said: "No repatriation flights to Italy were being planned in the coming days."

Under the Dublin Treaty, migrants are required to seek asylum in the first European country where they disembark, but Italy's populist coalition government has been working to overhaul the treaty, arguing that Italy has taken in too many migrants. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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