Tuesday 23 April 2019

Italy tells France to accept migrants under terms of EU agreement

The diplomatic war of words continues over the Aquarius migrant ship.

The Aquarius is stranded with hundreds of migrants on board (AP)
The Aquarius is stranded with hundreds of migrants on board (AP)

By Trisha Thomas and Nicole Winfield

Italy has challenged France to take in the migrants it promised to under an EU agreement, and accused the country of turning back some 10,000 migrants at Italy’s northern border.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini attacked the French critique of its handling of the Aquarius migrant ship stand-off during a speech to the Italian parliament.

Mr Salvini demanded an apology after French president Emmanuel Macron accused Italy of cynical, irresponsible behaviour by refusing to let the Aquarius dock in an Italian port.

The Italian minister said France had committed to accepting 9,816 migrants under a 2015 EU redistribution scheme to relieve frontline countries of the pressure of asylum-seekers. The scheme has never gotten off the ground.

Mr Salvini said in three years, France has accepted only 640 people.

He told MPs: “So I ask President Macron to pass from words to action and tomorrow morning welcome the 9,816 France promised to welcome as a sign of concrete generosity, and not just words.”

Press Association

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