Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has called for naval or coast guard patrols along the coast of Tunisia and a possible blockade of Tunisia in order to prevent the reoccurrence of the events of August 1991 when thousands of Albanians reached Italian territory by sea after the collapse of the Albanian dictatorship. (While the first wave of Albanians in March 1991 were largely welcomed by Italy, the second wave of 15,000 Albanians in August 1991 were not welcomed and were detained by Italian authorities.)
During a press conference earlier today in Syria, Frattini said that “until now the mechanism of patrolling the coast of North Africa worked and we want to restore the mechanism that up to a month ago had reduced illegal immigration to zero.” Italy is ready to offer “tools” to help land and naval patrols in Tunisia. Italy can offer much to Tunisia, from “logistical support in terms of equipping the police forces, including the provision of important tools, both naval and land, to patrol the coast of Tunisia.” (“Fin’ora il meccanismo dei pattugliamenti delle coste nord africane ha funzionato e vogliamo ripristinare quel meccanismo che fino ad un mese fa aveva portato a zero l’immigrazione clandestina”. L’Italia ha pronti “strumenti” navali e terrestri per aiutare la Tunisia nel pattugliamento . L’Italia può offrire molto alla Tunisia, a partire da “un aiuto logistico in termini di equipaggiamento delle forze di polizia, ivi compresa la messa a disposizione di strumenti importanti, sia navali sia terrestri, per il pattugliamento della costa tunisina.’’)
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