Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has written a letter to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accusing Berlin of helping to fund migrant charity groups operating off the coast of Italy.
“I was surprised to learn that your government — without coordination with the Italian government — has reportedly decided to support with significant funds non-governmental organizations engaged in the reception of irregular migrants on Italian soil and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea,” Meloni’s letter. he said, according to a Reuters report on Monday.
The letter comes as Meloni has pushed European leaders hard in recent weeks on the issue of immigration. Italy has seen a recent surge in migrants that the country’s leader believes will push the region to breaking point.
According to figures compiled by Reuters, Italy saw 133,000 migrant arrivals on its shores in 2023. That number is up from around 69,800 in the same period last year, breaking the 2016 record of 160,000 migrants entering the country. .
ITALY’S CALL FOR NAVAL BLOCKAGE MAY BE ONLY WAY TO RESOLVE EUROPE’S MIGRATION CRISIS, EXPERT SAYS
Meloni called on European leaders to establish a naval blockade in the Mediterranean Sea to help stem the flow of migrants, arguing that such a move was the only “serious” way the continent could stave off the crisis.
“What is at stake is the future of Europe because the future of Europe depends on its ability to face the enormous challenges of our time,” Meloni told reporters last week.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen responded by declaring support for Italy, which has pledged to crack down on the “barbaric” migrant smuggling operation.
“Italy can count on the European Union,” von der Leyen said.
But Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Freedom Center, told Fox News Digital last week that Italy is unlikely to find much help from other European countries.
“The scale of the crisis is huge … Meloni is one of the toughest leaders in Europe on illegal immigration, but she is overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and it will only get worse,” Gardiner said.
TINY ITALIAN ISLAND STRUGGLED WITH THOUSANDS OF MIGRANTS ARRIVING WITHIN 24 HOURS
Gardiner believes it will be up to Meloni to “take decisive action to defend Italian sovereignty”, arguing that it will be up to the Italian navy to police the seas across the country.
“This is the only thing they can do. If they are going to wait for the European Union to do something, Italy is going to have to deal with huge numbers of illegal immigrants flooding the country,” Gardiner said. “The Italian navy is not at the same level as the British navy or the French, but it still has the ability to stop migrant ships from coming in.”
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A German foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters that helping to rescue people at sea was a “legal, humanitarian and moral duty”.
However, Meloni argued in the letter that European countries’ economic efforts should be focused on supporting Italy and slowing the migrant crisis.
“I believe that the efforts, including financial ones, of EU countries interested in providing concrete support to Italy should rather focus on building structural solutions to the migration phenomenon,” Meloni said.