Tens of thousands of migrants continue to pour into Italy, setting up makeshift camps in cities across the country. While the huge number of arrivals has triggered European Union-wide debates, a solution has yet to be found.
As reported by Italy’s ANSA news agency, the country’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni rejected a request form Visegard group leaders to “close the ports” to asylum seekers.
“We have the right to demand solidarity from our neighbours, countries with whom we share the European project,” Gentiloni said in Turin. “We don’t accept lessons, nor threatening words. We limit ourselves to serenely saying that we do our duty and we demand that Europe does it without giving dubious lessons.”
Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban confirmed on July 21 that the four leaders of the Visegrad group, which also includes the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, had written a letter to Gentiloni calling in it to close its ports to asylum seekers.
In a separate report, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) also noted that Italy summoned Austria’s ambassador last week after Vienna threatened to send troops to the border, open as part of Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone, to stop migrants entering after the number crossing the Mediterranean topped 100,000 this year.
Some 2,360 drowned in the attempt, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.
Italy has taken in a whopping 85% of this year’s arrivals – mostly sub-Saharan Africans crossing from conflict ravaged Libya.
Rome has repeatedly called for help from other EU nations.