Other nations must allow migrant rescue ships to dock, says Italy

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Rome, July 26 (IANS/AKI) Other European countries besides Italy must open their ports to ships that rescue migrants in the Mediterrnanean, Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said on Thursday.

“It is no longer justifiable to bring all those who are rescued to Italian ports,” Moavero told the parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

“Other countries must open their ports too,” he added.

Italy does not want to end its participation in the European Union’s Sofia anti-trafficking mission in the Mediterranean, but has demanded changes to the mission’s rules of engagement which currently require ships that rescue migrants to dock at Italian ports, Moavero said.

“There is no wish to abandon the Sofia operation but we ask that the operation be brought into line with the conclusions of the EU Council summit (in late June),” he said.

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Italy will keep however keep its ports open to EU mission vessels that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean during the discussions with the EU on revising Sofia’s rules of engagement, Moavero said during a visit to Berlin on Monday.

In a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini last week, Moavero said that his country did not want to be the only one “where migrants saved at sea by its own naval units disembark”.

At their fractious June 28-29 summit in Brussels, under pressure from Italy, European leaders controversially agreed to set up secure centres for migrants in the bloc, to tighten the EU’s borders, create ‘disembarkation platforms’ outside the bloc and to redistribute refugees among member states.

–IANS/AKI

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