No plans to leave EU, NATO, says Italian PM

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Rome, Feb 28 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s populist government is committed to its membership of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday.

“This government has absolutely no intention of questioning the major international political choices of the post-war era – the European Union and the Atlantic Pact,” he said at the presentation here of an annual security report published by Italy’s intelligence services.

Conte also renewed longstanding calls by Italy for Europe Union countries to share the burden of migration, saying the crisis would only deepen and the bloc’s security would be at risk if narrow self-interest continued to prevail.

“If we keep acting according to short-sighted national expedience, Europe will continue in a downward spiral of crisis that we will never end,” he said.

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“Italy will continue its battle for immigration to be handled as a problem that affects all,” Conte said.

The new report signalled a more than 80 percent drop in migrant arrivals over the past year but warned that jihadists had “sporadically” sought to enter Europe aboard the people-smuggling boats.

“It is comforting in respect of two cornerstones of government policy: first, to give no quarter to human traffickers and second, that no one can close themselves off and think that the problem doesn’t affect them,” Conte said.

Italy “saved Italy’s honour” by rescuing hundreds of thousands of boat migrants since 2014 but the main trafficking routes were now from North Africa to Spain and the eastern Mediterranean, Conte noted.

“And in the years to come, more migrants will be trafficked from Asia by land,” he added.

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Italy’s anti-migrant Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini has closed the country’s ports to migrant rescue vessels, vowing no more migrants will reach Italy by boat from Africa and wants to deport 500,000 illegal immigrants from the country.



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