Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused Germany on Thursday of “blackmail” in the latest spat between the two countries over migrants rescued at sea.
According to German media, Salvini wrote in a WhatsApp group that Germany said it would only take in migrants rescued by an Italian coast guard ship if Italy allows another ship carrying 40 migrants, the Alan Kurdi, to enter its ports.
Germany informed the European Commission about its demands, and Brussels subsequently passed the message on to Italy, according to the media reports.
Salvini announced Wednesday that Italy would allow the 131 migrants on board the Italian coast guard vessel Bruno Gregoretti to disembark, after striking a deal with other EU countries. Germany, France, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland had signaled they would take in migrants from the boat.
The Alan Kurdi, a German ship operated by the Sea-Eye group, however, was not allowed to enter Italian waters, as Salvini officially banned it from docking.