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Alfano: «Green light to Italy’s agenda. Now let’s not get caught in Brussels red-tape» (Corriere della Sera)

“Paris has confirmed the Italian agenda,” said Minister Angelino Alfano. The format of the Paris Migration Summit was similar to that of the Conference hosted at the Farnesina on 6 July. “It was on that occasion that we brought together the Ministers of Italy, Spain, France and Germany (plus the Netherlands and Austria) and those of the Countries of transit, such as Niger, Libya, and Chad for the first time. We proved that a quantum leap was possible. Immediate aid was granted to the Countries of transit to help them reinforce border control in full respect of human rights and international standards. This was made possible thanks to the participation of UN Agencies. Paris also reconfirmed the need to step up the support for Italian actions in Libya, which cover a variety of fields: from helping the Libyan Coast Guard to financing the UNHCR, to the European project for border control in Libya, funded through a 10 million euro grant by the Farnesina.”

Would the four major EU Countries alone be able to provide solutions to the question of migration that would be embraced and implemented by everybody?

“The four major EU countries alone certainly would not be able to solve all of the complex and structural migration questions. The strategy that was agreed upon in Paris can become a European strategy, provided that it does not get stuck in Brussels’ red-tape. What I have been repeating in these past few months is that immediate solutions to migration issues can only be possible, if France, Germany, and Spain participate in the effort and manage the influx before migrants travel across the Countries of transit to eventually arrive in Italy. The Paris Summit has proven that the Italian diplomacy was right in asking for a more intense relationship with Paris, Berlin, and Madrid.”

The EU gave six billion euros to Turkey to block (successfully) the Balkan route. Libya has got only a very small fraction of that amount so far. Were we given assurances that Libya would get an adequate financial support?

“I have always thought that once the route across Turkey was closed, Europe should lend its political and financial weight to block the route across the central Mediterranean. As it has been acknowledged also by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and President Juncker, Italy was left alone for a very long time. The outcome of the Paris meeting opens up new perspectives, making it a priority to refinance the EU Trust Fund for Africa. The Fund supports development projects, actions to counter people traffickers and provides assistance to migrants in Libya, Chad, and Niger.”

The accord with Libyan mayors is also mentioned in the Paris communique’, but they are only 14. And there is still the question of the structural instability of the country. What are our next steps?

“We support all Libyans and we do it through a wide range of actions: from supporting local communities in the South to relaunching local entrepreneurship via the organization of  the first Italian-Libyan Economic Forum – which was held in Agrigento on 8 July -, from providing essential services to the Libyan population to sending emergency health kits. But there is one way to stabilise the country and it is by supporting the UN Special Representative for Libya in carrying out his mediation role. To this end, the international community should focus its efforts on one single goal. This is the message that I conveyed to my interlocutors.”

Chancellor Merkel has recognized finally that the Dublin system cannot be sustained any longer. However, it remains in force. Will we be able to change it?

“The Dublin system has shown its limitations because it was conceived for a different time and a different context. All through these years, Italy has combined solidarity and security, proving that there is no contradiction between rigour and humanity. Let’s be honest: no matter how much we try, many governments do not want to change the Dublin Regulation. It is precisely because of it that Italy asked for a change in strategy at the July meeting: refugees should be assisted in the Countries of transit from which they can be relocated in Europe. Economic migrants should be offered, still in the Countries of transit, the choice of assisted voluntary return and reintegration in their home countries.

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