(Paris) New Franco-Italian diplomatic crisis around immigration? Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni “is unable to resolve the migration problems” of Italy, which is experiencing record arrivals by the Mediterranean, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Thursday.
“ Madame Meloni, a far-right government chosen by the friends of Mrs. (Marine) Le Pen, is unable to resolve the migration issues on which she was elected ”, declared the minister, interviewed on the program “ Les grandes gueules by RMC on remarks by the president of the National Rally (RN) Jordan Bardella concerning the migratory situation at the Franco-Italian border.
“ Yes, there is an influx of migrants and especially minors ” in the south of France, acknowledged Gérald Darmanin, who blames the fault on the Italian neighbor: “ The truth is that there is in Tunisia […] a political situation which means that many children in particular go up through Italy and that Italy is unable […] to manage this migratory pressure ”, he insisted.
“Meloni is like Le Pen, she gets elected on ‘you’ll see what you’ll see’ and then what we see is that it (immigration) doesn’t stop and that is growing”, continued Mr. Darmanin about the head of the Italian government, who, according to him, is facing “ a very serious migratory crisis ”.
What trigger a new diplomatic crisis on this hot topic? Already in November, the two countries had experienced a strong outbreak of fever when the government of Giorgia Meloni, who had just come to power, had refused to allow the humanitarian ship of the NGO SOS Méditerranée to dock, which had ended up being welcomed for the first time by France, in Toulon.
The episode had angered Paris, which had called a European meeting so that this unprecedented scenario did not happen again.
Since then, clandestine crossings by boat have increased, with the development of a new maritime corridor between Tunisia and Italy, in the front line at the gates of Europe.
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, more than 36,000 people have arrived via the Mediterranean in Italy this year, compared to around 9,000 during the same period in 2022.
In this context, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced at the end of April the mobilization of 150 “additional” police officers and gendarmes in the Alpes-Maritimes to deal with “ dealing with increased migratory pressure at the Italian border ”, as well as the creation of a “border force”, a force at the borders.
“ In Australia, it works very well ”, defended Gérald Darmanin on Thursday: “ At the border, we stop people and make them pass identity checks ”, he explained.
On the Franco-Italian border, the State must “ accompany ” and “ work with Mr. (Eric) Ciotti ”, the president of the Republicans and deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes who recently called on the government to mobilize “ massive means to stop the ongoing migratory submersion at the border”.
Upstream, in the Mediterranean, the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) assured in April, the first quarter of 2023 was the deadliest for migrants since 2017.