The new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made a commitment to Europe in her first speech in her new office in front of the Parliament in Rome. "Italy is fully part of Europe and the western world," said the leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FDI) party.
Meloni assured that Italy did not want to "slow down or sabotage" European integration. Rather, she will advocate that the EU become more effective in dealing with crises. The right-wing foreign policy expert also emphasized that Italy would "remain a reliable NATO partner" and would support Ukraine towards Russia.
The 45-year-old was sworn in as Prime Minister at the weekend and took over the government from her pro-European predecessor Mario Draghi. The right-wing coalition led by the FDI secured an absolute majority in both chambers of parliament in late September elections.
Regarding the refugee situation in the Mediterranean, Meloni said that she wanted her government to prevent the arrival of boat migrants. "This government wants to go down a path that has hardly been explored until now: stopping illegal departures and finally breaking up the illegal human trafficking in the Mediterranean," she said.
"If you don't want me to talk about ship blockades, I'll say it like that," Meloni continued. She went on to say that her government, in coordination with the authorities of the North African countries, wants to set up centers in the "hotspot areas" where international organizations will check whether people have a right to asylum. "We do not want to discuss the right to asylum for those who are fleeing executions," Meloni said in her speech, which lasted more than an hour. They just want to prevent smugglers from deciding who is allowed to come to Italy.
Meloni's statements are a bad signal for the civilian sea rescuers in the Mediterranean, who regularly take in hundreds of migrants who get into distress on their way from Libya or Tunisia to Italy. The SOS Humanity organization's "Humaity 1", flying the German flag, and the "Ocean Viking" from SOS Méditerranée, sailing under the Norwegian flag, are currently on the move there. So far they have taken more than 250 migrants on board.
According to the Ansa news agency, the new Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi – an expert close to the Lega – instructed the police and port authorities to inform the flag states that the ships were not acting in accordance with European and Italian border security and control standards and those for illegal migration.
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