Italy won’t bar EU mission ships saving migrants in the Mediterranean

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Berlin, July 24 (IANS/AKI) Italy will keep its ports open to European Union mission vessels that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean, Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said on Monday.

“For as long as it takes to reach an agreement on changing the rules of engagement concerning the Sophia military mission, Italy will open its ports to people rescued by its ships,” Moavero said during a visit to Berlin.

Italy is demanding that the EU change its Sophia anti-trafficking mission’s operational rules so that rescued migrants are not necessarily taken to Italy’s ports – as current rules require.

The rules of engagement for the EU’s current border and coastguard mission Themis do not compel its ships to take rescued migrants to the nearest port – usually Italy’s – as they had to under the previous mission.

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