Top Italian officials lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron, who said migration pressure on Italy seriously dropped over the past year. Macron was branded “arrogant,” and risks becoming a top “enemy” to Rome on migration.
"Italy indeed faces a migration emergency and it's partly because France keeps pushing back people at the border. Macron risks making his country Italy's No.1 enemy on this emergency," Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday. The comments made earlier by Macron clearly showed that the French president was out of touch, Di Maio added.
Macron drew the wrath of Italy by stating that "Europe is not experiencing a migration crisis of the same magnitude as the one it experienced in 2015." Those EU countries, which "massively voice their national selfishness when it comes to migrant issues," should not expect to receive benefits from the EU, Macron said, effectively threatening them with financial sanctions.
"A country like Italy has not at all the same migratory pressure as last year. ... The crisis we are experiencing today in Europe is a political crisis," Macron added, targeting Rome directly.
The comment did not go down well with Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. In a counter statement, he claimed that Italy faced 650,000 arrivals by sea over the past four years, with 430,000 asylum requests. He also added that the country currently hosts 170,000 "alleged refugees" for a staggering overall cost of 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion).
"If for the arrogant President Macron this is not a problem, we invite him to stop insulting and to show instead some concrete generosity by opening up France's many ports and letting children, men and women through at Ventimiglia," Salvini stated, referencing the Italian town on the French border.
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