ROME - Italy has said it will not allow planes carrying migrants from European Union member states to land in the country. The new Italian government has made clear the EU needs to share the burden of migrants.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has made clear Italy will be no landing ground for asylum-seekers. In the same way that ports have been closed to boats with migrants, Italy will close its airports to unauthorized planes carrying them.
In a statement, Salvini said, “If someone, in Berlin or Brussels, thinks of dumping dozens of immigrants in Italy via unauthorized charter flights, they should know that there is not and there will be no airport available.”
Labor Minister Luigi Di Maio, who is deputy prime minister along with Salvini, was quick to voice his agreement.
Di Maio said he did not know who authorized these charters because on the matter of secondary movements, which has been the subject of Italy’s talks with the European Union that were requested by Germany, no agreement has been signed.
Di Maio added such an agreement is required before any such charter flights can take place. Italy and Germany have been working on a deal under which Germany would send back to Italy migrants who have already applied for asylum in Italy, but the accord has yet to be signed.
Following the comments by the two Italian ministers, the spokesman for Germany’s Interior Ministry, Soeren Schmidt, declared that no planes have been scheduled to bring migrants to Italy and there are no concerns over collaboration with Rome.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, said an agreement has been reached and Germany hopes it will soon be signed, just like similar accords between Spain and Greece.
According to EU regulations, asylum-seekers are normally required to apply for asylum in the first EU country where they set foot and that is often Italy because of its proximity to the African coast.