Rome – Italy’s Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini’s suggestion that foreign ships taking part in European Union missions should stop taking migrants to Italy, is causing tensions within the Italian government.
Salvini launched the proposal on Sunday, a day after the Irish navy vessel, Samuel Beckett, serving in the EU Navfor Med Sophia Mediterranean sea mission, disembarked 106 migrants rescued off Libya in the Sicilian port of Messina.
“The ships from international missions should not all arrive in Italy. Some yes, not all,’’ Salvini insisted in a Monday interview with La Verita newspaper.
“Why should rescued migrants all arrive in Italy?’’ he queried.
The minister, who is also deputy premier and leader of the far-right League, said he was referring to EU Navfor Med Sophia, as well as Themis, the sea border control mission coordinated by EU agency Frontex.
But Italian Defence Ministry sources, quoted by the ANSA news agency, pointed out that it was up to the Defence and Foreign ministries to deal with EU military missions such as EU Navfor, rather than Salvin’’s ministry.
Italian demands regarding EU Navfor “must be coordinated at government level, otherwise Italy will not obtain anything aside from a few newspaper headlines, it being understood that we are proud of the EU mission being under Italian command,” the defence sources said.
Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta is affiliated to the League’s coalition partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
In recent weeks, Salvini has dominated the news cycle, mostly with anti-migrant statements, eclipsing the M5S.