Luigi Di Maio, you have expressed concern about the situation of sea arrivals. In the past you supported the hard line of the blockade of ships. And now?
“You know, first of all I would like to clarify that it is not about following a hard line or not, there is no ideological approach to this issue – and it shouldn’t be – but it must be pragmatic and tangible. The sea arrivals issue, together with the health risk due to the pandemic is a matter of national security. We should think carefully after what happened in Caltanissetta and in Porto Empedocle, citizens rightly expect a response and a State duty is to answer, working to solve the problem at source. I remind you that we had more than 35 thousand deaths due to Corona virus and, as I have already said, if someone is subject to quarantine they cannot think to violate Italian rules and walk freely. It is valid both for those having the right to international protection and for anyone else”.
Then what changed?
“This is a very delicate moment, as Minister Lamorgese also stated. Tunisia is experiencing a phase of political instability that is nurturing arrivals to Italy and we cannot think of how to stop sea arrivals, but how to stop departures. This is the issue we are tackling at governmental level. Also because Tunisia is a safe country and whoever leaves for Italy is repatriated. Nobody will be regularised. This very day we have convened the Tunisian Ambassador asking him to accelerate repatriations and he assured us that at the beginning of August migrants will start flying back (80 per flight). We also asked for a better vigilance in Sfax and two patrol boats have been sent from the government in Tunis”.
How will the Government intervene? Have you spoken to Mr Conte and Ms Lamorgese?
“Yes, we have met in these days also with Minister Guerini. The plan to put forward is well articulated. First of all we need to implement the negotiation for a new agreement on migrations and I will soon go to Tunis to talk about this issue, but before I want facts. We need to work immediately to an agreement with the Tunisian authorities in order to seize ships on site and take down the barges used to cross the sea, because these are the ships arriving, the so called ghost ships, often escaping from radars. The scenario reminds Albania of the early 2000 and, at the time, with the government in Tirana there was a cooperation to stop migration flows. We have to try the same path with Tunis, in my opinion, working on several fronts of course”.
“For instance, on bilateral cooperation, enhancing the allocations on development cooperation: reinforcing local institutions is useful to offer growth and development possibilities to those in need and to give them a future perspective on their country of origin. At the same time, facilitating investments to our companies in the Mediterranean region. Though before talking about this, we expect a full collaboration to strengthen cooperation in the migratory field”.
Something is similar to the past: the scepticism towards EU that “has to give a response to this crisis”.
“Yes, the EU has to respond and has welcomed with satisfaction yesterday Commission’s appeal, which after our warnings is ready to cooperate. We only ask pacts to be respected. We ask Brussels a proactive role both in terms of readmission and of decreasing irregulars departures, and in this framework we want to involve competent EU Commissioners such as Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson, that is already at disposal, and Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement and Varhelyi”.
Do you really believe that a redistribution of migrants is possible, especially if they come on small barges?
A redistribution was already ongoing and then suspended during pandemic, but now the most acute phase in Italy is behind us and our Southern border, I remind you, is a European border, not only an Italian one.
At the same time, the Senate is asking for a trial to Salvini. What would you have voted?
“You believe me? I don’t want to talk about Salvini anymore”
At a political level, we start talking about Mes: is it possible that M5S opens its usage?
“President Conte has played an amazing match in Europe, obtaining the maximum we could. He has repeated many times that Italy won’t need it and we are confident in his words.
M5S has fallen apart internally at the Chamber on commissions
“Someone has not respected the agreements, but I am sure that Vito Crimi will be able to find a balance within M5S”.
The alliance with Dem is not working at local level.
“I have already repeated many times that with PD we work well on a national level, after that I think it is essential to listen to territories and I am sure that for PD it is the same. Each of our representatives at local level takes over some battles and is citizens’ spokesperson. Every respectable democratic force has the obligation to listen to their territories”.
Today in Naples there is Carmine Mario Paciolla’s wake, murdered in Colombia under unclear circumstances. Why?
“I have already met the family when his corpse was back to Italy, I have felt their grief. I am here because these people deserve to know the truth and how their son died. It is their right and we will protect it in any circumstance”.