French response to migrant row ‘totally incomprehensible’: Italy’s interior minister

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Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi on Thursday condemned as “totally incomprehensible” France’s response to taking in a migrant ship after it was stopped from entering Italy.

France earlier agreed to take in the Ocean Viking after it gave up waiting for a port off Sicily, but in response said it would suspend a plan to welcome 3,500 refugees currently in Italy, and urged other EU nations to act accordingly.

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“The reaction France is having to the request to take in 234 migrants, when Italy has taken in 90,000 just this year, is totally incomprehensible in the face of continued requests for solidarity,” Piantedosi said in a statement.

“But it also demonstrates how strong and determined other countries are in their approach to illegal immigration.”

“What we do not understand is why Italy should willingly accept something that others are not willing to accept.”

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s new government, the most right-wing to take office in Rome since World War II, has vowed to stop the huge numbers of people who arrive on Italy’s shores each month after crossing from North Africa in the hopes of reaching Europe.

Piantedosi complained that 13 EU countries had promised to take in a total of around 8,000 people this year and up to now just 117 had been relocated, 38 in France – figures he deemed “totally inadequate.”

He accused other EU countries of imposing “the principle that Italy is Europe’s only possible port for illegal immigrants.”

“The countries of first entry point cannot alone bear the responsibility of managing flows” of migrants, he added.

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