Associated Press, July 8, 2018
The right-wing interior minister who closed Italy’s ports to aid groups that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean said Sunday that he wants to extend the prohibition to foreign navy ships.
Matteo Salvini said he would bring up Italy’s desire to keep navy ships carrying rescued migrants from its ports when European Union interior ministers meet this week in Austria. Salvini made the statement on Facebook after the Irish navy ship Samuel Beckett arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina with 106 migrants after participating in an EU-sponsored mission.
“Unfortunately, Italian governments over the past five years have signed agreements (in exchange for what?) so that all these ships disembark immigrants in Italy,” Salvini wrote. “With our government, the music has changed and will change.”
Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli suggested that Italy would be taking aim at the terms of Operation Sophia. Toninelli said on Twitter that Italy was required to accept the Samuel Becket’s passengers under a “crazy” agreement negotiated by the previous government that “sold out Italy’s interests.”