Minister Tajani, how will Italy respond to the very clear position taken by the European Union which disagrees with the government on disembarking migrants?
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said “we abide by international law. It is the non-governmental organisations who should play by the rules.”
This would create conflict with Europe.
“There is no conflict: we are part of Europe too. Many countries share our problem.”
However, the Commission does not agree, and a solution will clearly have to be found for the future.
“I will discuss the issue of immigration with my colleagues at the foreign affairs council meeting next Monday. As Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard agency also noted, there is a clear strategy. We are not dealing with people who are in danger at sea because they were shipwrecked, but with organised journeys. The traffickers often leave when they know there is an NGO around: it is no longer a rescue, but a type of taxi service carried out to exploit the desperation of people.”
Basically, is selective disembarkation giving a signal?
“Of course it is. President Macron’s decision to open the port of Marseille to the Ocean Viking shows that something is moving. We are grateful that France is willing to make a decision that reduces the pressure on Italy, proving that it understands the need for a joint approach among EU countries that is solid. I will soon meet my Greek counterpart: we need to ensure that these signals are transformed into solid agreements.”
What do you want from Europe?
“An agreement to establish how to redistribute migrants who have the right to asylum among the various countries based on population size.”
What about the Dublin Regulation?
“We have to update the Dublin Regulation, otherwise we’ll stay stuck. If they don’t help us stem the flow of migrants, Italy, with its 7 thousand kilometres of coastline, will find itself in difficulty. Action also has to be taken at the source, starting with Africa, where a 100 billion Marshall plan is needed to combat poverty, disease, terrorism and wars to prevent people who are born there from wanting to escape. We should therefore make agreements with North African countries to block departures and stop the traffickers, destroying their boat engines. Specific policies are also needed for the Balkans – another immigration route – the Mediterranean, without mentioning Ukraine and its refugees. Basically, the roots of the problem need to be addressed.”
In the meantime, what is being done with people who have arrived?
“All those who could disembark did so. However, since the clear plan behind this situation is to continuously disembark migrants, anyone who does not meet the requirements will have to be taken to Norway or Germany.”
These two countries do not agree.
“A ship is a national territory. Even the Pope says that Italy can’t be left alone.”
All migrants from ships have to disembark according to the conference of bishops.
“The Pope is the maximum authority of the church. If there is a meeting between traffickers and NGOs, it is not a shipwreck. We have to cut off this traffic. Saving human lives yes, taking action at sea to improve conditions okay, but playing a game that exploits the desperation of these people, no”.
Do you believe that the Maritime Code should be updated? It was not written with mass migration in mind, but for shipwrecks, plain and simple.
“No. The provisions of the Code are very clear: we just need rules on redistribution now. This is because the NGOs do not meet the traffickers by chance as I mentioned.”
You are on a diplomatic mission with President Mattarella in Holland, one of the countries taking the hardest line against Italy’s request for solidarity.
“I will also speak to my colleague Wopke Hoekstra about this. I will inform him about our problems and emergencies.”
Are you aiming for a specific meeting of the European Council of heads of State and Government?
“It will take some time to set up: but I believe that immigration will be on the agenda for scheduled European Council meetings.”
As you mentioned, refugees are also arriving from Ukraine. Do we still have to send weapons to Kiev?
“A stance has already been approved in the meantime and when it expires, we will act in accordance with Europe and NATO. In any case, we have to help the Ukrainians. There was an attack by Russia, we must prevent an invasion, and then sit down and agree on a way to find the right kind of peace, one that respects the territorial integrity of a country. We do not want a never-ending war, but to guarantee Ukrainian independence and to make peace.”
At such a sensitive moment, was the rave party issue really so urgent? Will the government make changes to the decree?
“The problem was addressed at a cabinet meeting since there was a rave being held. One thing has to be made clear: illegal raves cannot be held. Seizing the assets of the participants is one way to prevent them from being organised. We in Forza Italia were against the interceptions, but a non-existent clash was highlighted. Government intervention? Parliament will make any changes it believes necessary.”
With regard to Forza Italia: what is the issue between your movement and that of Ronzulli?
“I’m against any type of personal organisation. There are no movements in Forza Italia: the only one that exists is that of Berlusconi’.”
Will you stay as party coordinator?
“I’ll stay on as coordinator as long as necessary. Berlusconi is the one who decides.”