ROME – At the height of the migration crisis, Italy called on the European Union to live up to its promise and to bear the burden of the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers who land on the southern Mediterranean border of the continent.
Instead Italy The bloc felt the cold shoulder and the resulting disappointment of the population contributed to the rise of anti-immigrant nationalist Matteo Salvini, who practically sealed the ports for ships with rescued migrants, before his political assault this summer to his unexpected departure Interior Minister led.
] After Mr. Salvini left, European leaders see a chance to apply the lessons of the past and give new impetus to efforts to revamp the block's immigration system.
"Italy is no longer alone," Italy's new Home Secretary Luciana Lamorgese told reporters on Monday afternoon.
The agreement in Malta could be extended to other countries on 8th October to Home Affairs Ministers from all countries of the European Union.
"You see a chance in Italy because there is a government that does not call for migrants, and they do not know how long this government will last," said Anna Triandafyllidou, a professor of immigration policy at Ryerson University in Toronto.
"It's very important that Salvini is not there," she added.
The Malta meeting was essentially aimed at formally circumventing the existing European Union treaties, which are causing significant burdens. Frontline countries such as Greece, Italy and Malta have asked asylum seekers to stay where they are. Partly for this reason, Mr Salvini introduced a strict security decree, which is still in force, imposing fines, arrests and confiscations of auxiliary vessels entering Italy without permission.
Italy hopes that the new agreement will avoid the case-by-case negotiations resulting from bankruptcies between Italy and auxiliary vessels leaving the migrants they have been transporting for days or weeks at sea.
In the days leading up to the meeting, Italy advocated that migrants no longer automatically get out at the nearest safe haven – almost always in Greece, Italy or Malta – but that the Member States of the European Union are also rotating open their ports.
The sorting would be carried out on the ships that would take them to a designated port in Italy. The interior ministers approved this principle on Monday in Malta.
"I strongly believe that responding to immigration is not an inward look or a provocation to provoke nationalist provocation, but to develop effective European solutions," said President Emmanuel Macron of France, meeting with the new one Italian government in Rome last week.
Italy is particularly keen to use the momentum. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who, as chairman of the previous government, signed Mr Salvini's tough legislation and tolerated his invasion, has tried to bring himself and Italy back into the center of Europe.
The New Italian Government, A tentative alliance between the center-left Democratic Party and the populist Five-Star Movement, has quickly proved more European and more acceptable to Brussels than the former Five-Star Party government and Salvini's party the hard right. 19659002] Following the meeting on Monday, Mr Conte welcomed the agreement as a positive step and tried to reassure the Italians that it would in no way attract more migrants to the Mediterranean, as the critics of the deal have argued.
In a meeting with Mr Conte Macron last week, Mr Conte said the two leaders had discussed 'an efficient system for disembarking, redistributing and repatriating migrants'.
Then, in a not so veiled criticism of Mr. Salvini, he added: "We must ensure that the issue of migration is not left to those who use it as a permanent theme in their propaganda."
Mr. Conte has also called for "severe penalties" against member states that refuse to participate in burden-sharing.
To remove the migration problem from the populist table, some critics state that the agreement envisages only nationalist leaders in Hungary and Poland and right-wing extremist opposition parties in France and Germany, who had more opportunity to arouse more outrage over what they described as invasions of migrants.
Minutes after the deal was announced on Monday, Mr Salvini issued a statement Insanity to "welcome the few who really flee from the war."
The agreement, migrants on Spreading across the continent would only lead to resentment, said Francesco Borgonovo, a journalist at the right-wing Italian publication La Verità.
This week, La Verità will release an anti-migration comic by Mr. Borgonovo, on whose cover is an African man with a knife drop g blood. The subtitle "An Immigration Story" tells the story of the son of a voodoo priestess who becomes a child soldier before emigrating to Italy, where he brutally murders his do-gooder patron and a priest.
Mr. Borgonovo said that Mr Salvini has introduced realism to the European debate on migration by enforcing the problem with his port closures. Even if he were absent, Salvini would clearly define the European agenda and outperform the Malta meeting, Borgonovo added. "He's the nationalist elephant in the room," he said. Salvini and his followers already argue that migration is gaining momentum with out-of-power right-wing populists.
According to the Ministry of Interior, September was the first month of the year in which the number of migrants exceeded the number of arrivals compared to the same month last year. And with several auxiliary vessels, which are still seized under the strict security law of Mr. Salvini.
La Repubblica, a left-leaning daily newspaper in Italy, reported over 300 recent "ghost landings" – occasions when migrants reach the country's ports of their own – in less than a week.
In the Aegean, the rise is even stronger. In August, Greece had the busiest month of immigration in more than three years.
The European Union has also sought to prevent migrants from reaching the continent by doing business with Libyan tribal leaders and criticizing ] processing centers in Niger and most recently in Rwanda.
Politicians from across the political spectrum argue that the ultimate answer to the migration problem lies in development in Africa. However, their ideological differences become apparent when migrants arrive on European shores.
The momentum for a potential deal became clear this month as the Ocean Viking, a relief vessel operated by MSF in the Mediterranean, rescued 82 migrants.
After six days at sea, waiting for a safe haven, France and Germany volunteered to take over some of the migrants. This led Italy to abandon the ship on the island of Lampedusa.
Italy arrested 24 migrants. France and Germany each received 24, others went to Luxembourg and Portugal. The Ocean Viking then rescued 182 other migrants and Italy granted them again a safe haven, this time in Messina, Sicily.