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Governo Italiano

"Minister Salvini is correct - migrant arrivals are his responsibility." (Il Messaggero)

Date:

05/12/2019


Minister Moavero, have you received the letter from Interior Minister Salvini asking you and Prime Minister Conte to do more with regard to the repatriation of migrants?"Yes, of course, and I have also replied. I have no fundamental objections to what Matteo Salvini has written. It is right that we need to make the complicated process of repatriation more efficient because those who arrive in Italy almost never have any documents and no-one actually knows where they come from. ​Therefore, it is right to ask those countries from which the migrants are leaving to pay greater attention to the bilateral agreements so that migrants who have no right to asylum can be repatriated more swiftly. I agree with the opportunity for greater cooperation because migration falls within the purview of various ministries."

Do you feel as if you have been put on notice?

"Absolutely not. I am in regular contact with Salvini to coordinate activities. We are all on notice, as is Europe, because repatriations should be governed by European agreements, processes and EU funds. There should be special financial rewards in return for cooperation for those countries of origin that work with us to swiftly take back their citizens who have migrated to Italy and other European countries."

Salvini has proposed a second Security bill which will grant him authority to control borders and territorial waters in order to put an end to migrant boats arriving. Do you agree with this approach?

"I believe the Interior Minister has the ultimate responsibility on matters of security. It is also true however that this responsibility intersects with the powers of the Prime Minister, and with the ministers of Defence, Infrastructure and Foreign Affairs. Therefore, we need clarification so that we can speak with one voice when it comes to direction and the decisions the government takes and we can do this when we discuss the draft decree."

So are you saying that Salvini is right?

"He is right to raise the question and there is a logic in his proposal. With regard to the approval of the decree, we could discuss whether this responsibility should lie with the Ministry of the Interior." 

Is it possible to snatch powers from other ministries by decree? Or is it unconstitutional as claimed by the Five Star Movement who have appealed to President of the Republic Mattarella?

"I wouldn't talk of snatching powers because the decree will be discussed collegiately by the government. We will weigh up the benefits. In theory, there are two options: continued coordination between ministries or a concentration of powers with the Interior Ministry which already has the greatest responsibility." 

What is making matters more alarming and complicated, are the threats coming from Libya. The government in Tripoli continues to threaten the risk of a large number of migrants leaving the Libyan coast.

"There has been talk of 800,000 people: this is an unlikely number, as it refers to the total number of non-Libyan citizens currently in Libya, while the number of migrants in reception centres is around five to six thousand. However, armed conflicts have reignited fears of a humanitarian crisis and this is why I have written to the European Commission to request ad hoc support if required for the EU countries of first arrival, in accordance with the EU Treaty."

The reply was not encouraging...

"You are using a euphemism. The reply dealt with other things, in particular with reforming of the Dublin regulation on asylum. However, if we need to discuss wider-ranging measures, I believe we need to enact a real EU policy on immigration, with substantial financial support for the countries of origin so that they can reduce the number of migrants leaving, humanitarian assistance for those who have a genuine right to asylum and the tools to effectively combat people traffickers with an equal sharing of the burden relative to the people arriving in Europe among EU States."

After the elections, with the advance of the nationalists, will it be even more difficult to reach agreements and to achieve European-wide unity?

"With regard to the redistribution of migrants, it is possible, but as for the fight against trafficking and investments in the countries of origin and of transit I remain optimistic: the so-called nationalists have said that they are willing to talk."

"The Libyan Prime Minister al-Sarraj came to Rome to request diplomatic support and arms. What was your reply?

"His government is recognised by the United Nations and we are supporting him. However, with regard to arms, the Italian law is clear: we cannot sell arms to countries at war or to warring parties. Italy is for a peaceful and inclusive dialogue which is the only sensible way forward."

But this has not worked so far. You have also been talking to Haftar but Haftar has continued his offensive against al-Sarraj...

"We have to talk to all parties, to seek conciliation and believe in the power of reason. It will be long and difficult but I see no other alternative."

There is also another sensitive issue: Venezuela. Has Italy finally decided which side it is on? Up to now, it looks like Italian foreign policy towards this country has been decided by Di Battista...

"The point is not deciding whether to side with Guaido or Maduro. By taking sides, you exacerbate the conflict. We are in favour of an agreement between all sides, which is the only way to ensure free and democratic presidential elections. Our position is equidistant or neutral: I have been clear that we do not recognise the legitimacy of the election to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro and therefore we do not consider him to be the legitimate president. We have been equally clear that we maintain the elections to the National Assembly to be legitimate and Juan Guaido to be the legitimate president. In accordance with this, we have given diplomatic protection in our embassy in Caracas to those who have been illegally persecuted."

Getting back to the issue of Europe. In 15 days' time there will be European elections. Do you think the nationalists and populists can destroy what the EU has built?

"No but the EU needs an overhaul. We need to see reforms, many of which are possible without changing treaties in order to make the current EU, which is almost 70 years old, more responsive to the expectations of its citizens without forgetting that it has assured peace and widespread economic benefits.

What reforms are you thinking about?

"For example, the European Parliament must have the power to propose legislation through an ad hoc ageement with the European Commission. We also need a real policy on immigration and it is vital that we increase the EU budget with new sources of income such as the issuing of bonds to finance investments and European taxes on multinationals, which today manage to pay taxes in different European countries because the EU does not have fiscal unity."

The government of the European Union will change by the autumn. How many commissioners will Italy have? Also, have you heard that Angela Merkel is hoping to become the President of the European Council?

"Italy has the right to a commissioner like all the other states. We will see which one. We are currently thinking about it. With regard to Angela Merkel, she has not said anything about this so far but objectively speaking I think she would be an excellent candidate."


Location:

Roma

Periodical:

Il Messaggero

Author:

Alberto Gentili

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