Nov 9 – France on Wednesday criticised Italy’s refusal to let a charity ship carrying over 200 migrants dock in its ports, as the two countries disagreed on where they should disembark.
The Ocean Viking vessel has been at sea for more than two weeks since its first rescue in the central Mediterranean and it said on Tuesday it would now head to France, hoping to find a berth there after Italy refused access to its ports.
Also on Tuesday, Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her “appreciation” for what she called “France’s decision” to share responsibility for the migrants and open its ports to the ship.
France, however, said that while talks were ongoing no such decision has been taken, and urged Italy to allow the boat to dock in one of its ports.
“The boat is currently in Italian territorial waters. European rules are very clear … this boat is destined to be welcomed in Italy,” government spokesperson Olivier Veran told franceinfo radio in the morning, saying Italy’s attitude was “unacceptable.”
A member of Meloni’s staff later quoted her as telling her Brothers of Italy party lawmakers that Rome was right in blocking the ship at sea.
“The Italian government is complying with all international conventions,” Meloni said, adding that Italy’s refusal was justified by the fact that “these are not shipwrecked persons but migrants”.