Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent a message to newly elected Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in his latest tweet, thanking her for Italy’s refusal to allow the newly arrived migrant boats to enter its shores.
“Finally”, Viktor Orbán’s post began, suggesting that after a long time Italy finally has a government that actually wants to fight illegal migration. The Hungarian Prime Minister continued by saying that “we owe a big thank you to Giorgia Meloni and the new Italian government for protecting the borders of Europe.”
This comes after Italy closed its ports to Norwegian, German and French NGO ships carrying illegal migrants. Hundreds of thousands of people have arrived in Italy in recent years by sea, usually picked up by NGO boats en route, trying to reach Europe in flimsy boats.
However, after the leniency shown so far, the new Italian Minister of the Interior has now stood firm and refused to allow the NGO boats to dock.
Matteo Piantedosi signed a decree to this effect on 25 October, citing national security reasons and Italian and European legislation.
As a result of the decision, 4 migrant rescue vessels were already lined up off the coast of Sicily by Saturday evening. According to AP News, two ships were allowed to dock so far, Geo Barents (registered in Norway) and Humanity 1 (registered in Germany), but only minors and those in need of medical care were allowed to disembark.
The Italian Minister of the Interior stressed that it was the duty of the countries to which the rescue boats belonged to receive migrants. He also recalled that the Italian government does not deny its humanitarian duty to those in need of medical assistance, but that the others must return to international waters.
However, not everyone agrees with the Italian government’s tough stance on illegal migration. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, for example, said he was confident that his Italian counterpart would respect international law and give way. Paris has also assured the Italians that if they allow migrants to land, they will take on some of them.
Meanwhile, pro-immigration activists gathered in the port of Catania in Sicily on Saturday evening to demand the opening of the port.
They claimed that Europe, which has become a fortress, was responsible for the loss of human life. A politician from the left-wing Democratic Party, Ivory Coast-born Aboubakar Soumahoro, was also in town to protest against the Italian government’s immigration policy.
Featured photo via Twitter