Europe Identity at Risk as Migrant Tensions Rise: Italy

Yahoo! News, June 24, 2015

Europe needs to find a solution to the migrant crisis or risk losing its identity, Italy’s Matteo Renzi warned Wednesday ahead of a key EU summit, as tensions rose over the asylum issue.

“Europe needs a strategy,” the prime minister said in an interview in La Stampa daily, a day after France clashed with Britain over thousands of immigrants trying to cross the Channel, and Hungary suspended a key EU rule on processing asylum claims.

“A European response is needed above all by Europe, more than Italy,” he said.

“We want to fight for a different idea of values, civilisation, peace: that is what Europe was born for. If these values are ignored in front of a Mediterranean in flames, in front of children drowning, Europe loses itself,” he said.

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On Tuesday, some of the thousands of illegal immigrants camped in the French port of Calais took advantage of the chaos caused by a ferry workers’ protest to try to climb aboard lorries bound for Britain.

France has said it is being forced to act like a British border patrol and called on London to do more to help.

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Defying Italy’s own anti-immigration Northern League party, he said Italy could tackle the situation in the Mediterranean alone if necessary, insisting “we will not give up on saving one single life: a life is worth more than a poll”.

But he warned Europe against allowing “walls of indifference” to spring up.

“For us, in Italy, Europe is this: a lighthouse of civilisation, not a wall of fear.”

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