Northern League leader Umberto Bossi has issued an ultimatum to Silvio Berlusconi demanding a parliamentary vote to set a date certain by which Italy would halt its involvement with NATO operations against Libya. The Northern League’s basic argument is that ongoing NATO attacks against Libya will lead to larger numbers of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing to Italy. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni (Northern League) repeated yesterday his belief that up to 50,000 people may soon flee Libya towards Italy.
Tag Archives: Northern League
Italian MEP Francesco Speroni (EFD, Northern League) today compared the Tunisian migrants arriving in Italy to an invading force: “Do not mistake the Tunisians. If someone invades the territorial waters of a sovereign country, that country is allowed to use weapons, this is international law…” (“Non sbagliano i tunisini. Se uno invade le acque territoriali di un Paese sovrano è lecito usare le armi, questo è diritto internazionale…”) “We in Lebanon [and] in Afghanistan we are using the weapons, why do not we use them to defend our borders?” (“Noi in Libano, in Afghanistan stiamo usando le armi, perchè non dobbiamo usarle per difendere i nostri confini?”) Speroni’s remarks follow remarks made yesterday by Italian Transportation Vice-Minister Roberto Castelli (Northern League) who said “With [arriving] immigrants, we can not use weapons, for now.” (“”Con gli immigrati non possiamo usare le armi, per ora.”)
Such remarks represent an unfortunate and dangerous development in the political debate within Italy.
The Italian government has tentatively considered the possibility of offering €1500 to any Tunisian who agrees to return to Tunisia. Foreign Minister Frattini said that Italy could pay the funds to those migrants willing to leave and that the funds would then be reimbursed to Italy by the EU Commission. The IOM would likely be asked to administer the program. The proposal was immediately and strongly criticised by Umberto Bossi the head of the Northern League and a fellow minister in the Berlusconi Government. Bossi called for the migrants to be returned to Tunisia. A statement posted later in the day on the Foreign Ministry web site said that the proposal would “be activated only in the presence of a full financing on the part of the European Union.”
The situation on Lampedusa continues to deteriorate. There were approximately 1000 new migrant arrivals yesterday. The migrant population on the island is approximately 5000 with 2500 people sleeping rough in makeshift tents made of plastic sheeting.
Click here for brief statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs.