French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday accused Italy of “cynicism and irresponsibility” over its refusal to take in hundreds of migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean.
Macron told a cabinet meeting that under maritime law, “in cases of distress, those with the closest coastline have a responsibility to respond,” spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said. Successive Italian governments have accused their European partners of leaving the country to cope on its own with an influx of 700,000 migrants from Africa since 2013.
But Griveaux accused the new far-right/populist government in Rome of lacking solidarity after it refused to allow the migrant rescue boat Aquarius to land with more than 600 people on board. “You can’t create a precedent that will enable one European country to offload onto other European countries,” he continued. “We need to show solidarity which Italy has not shown.”
The new Italian government has pledged to deport hundreds of thousands of people living in the country illegally and stop boats carrying migrants from landing on its shores. Macron has faced criticism from some leftist opposition parties and members of his own Republic on the Move party for not offering to take in the 600 people on board the Aquarius.
A spokesman for Macron’s Republic on the Move party earlier said the Italian government’s policy was “sickening.” “The position, the line of the Italian government is sickening. It’s unacceptable to play politics with human lives which is what is happening at the moment,” Gabriel Attal told the Public Senate channel.
“I’m a spokesman for the party, not the government, but I can’t imagine that France will not play a role in finding a humanitarian solution for this boat,” he said.
European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said “The Aquarius case “is not just an Italian, Maltese or Spanish responsibility, it is a European responsibility and requires a European response.”
Commissioner Avramopoulos was speaking at a Press Conference where he gave details about the Commission’s proposals for a major funding increase for stronger borders and migration.
Avramaopoulos said that the Aquarius case is an incident and one can’t deny the fact that Italy has played a huge role in the migration issue, where case in point, earlier today it was involved in the rescue of 900 people.