France has not pulled its punches over Sunday’s decision by the new Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who is also leader of the far-right League, to prevent a rescue ship operated by a French NGO from docking in Italy. On board are 629 migrants, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.
After Malta also refused to take in the boat, Spain said the rescue ship could dock in Valencia.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who had been criticized for not offering to take in the boat at a French port, broke his silence on the topic during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, denouncing the “cynicism and irresponsibility of the Italian government,” government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux said at a press conference. Earlier, a spokesperson for Macron’s party, Gabriel Attal, said on a TV show that “the line of the Italian government is nauseating.”
The Italian government responded with a statement saying “Italy cannot accept hypocritical lessons from countries that in the migration field have always preferred to turn their head to the other side,” Italian media reported, adding that Rome is considering canceling a summit between Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday.
Italy did, however, get the backing of Hungary. Speaking Tuesday after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart, Peter Pellegrini, Hungarian PM Victor Orbán was quoted as saying that Italy’s decision was a “great moment which may truly bring changes in Europe’s migration policies.”
Salvini tried to defuse tensions and in a tweet said that “Spain wants to denounce us, France says that I’m ‘nauseating.’ I want to work calmly with everybody but with a principle: #firsttheitalians.”
Read the original article on politico.eu.
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