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Italian Deputy PM slams 'arrogant' Macron over migrant row

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About 16 EU countries are expected to take part in Sunday's informal "mini-summit" on migration in Brussels, which will be chaired by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. informs citing Sputnik.

In a statement on Saturday, Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini recalled that in the past four years, Italy has faced 650,000 arrivals by sea, with 430,000 asylum requests.

He added that the country currently hosts 170,000 "alleged refugees" at an overall annual cost of 5 billion euros (5.8 billion dollars).

"If for the arrogant President Macron this is not a problem, we invite him to stop insulting and show instead some concrete generosity by opening up France's many ports and letting children, men and women through at Ventimiglia," Salvini said, referring to an Italian town on the French border.

He was echoed by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who wrote on his Facebook page that "Italy indeed faces a migration emergency and it's partly because France keeps pushing people back at the border."

"Macron risks making his country Italy's No.1 enemy in this emergency situation," Di Maio pointed out.

Their remarks came after French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that "Europe is not experiencing a migration crisis of the same magnitude as the one it experienced in 2015."

"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," he added.

EU's 'Mini-Summit' on Migration

Later on Sunday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will chair the EU's "mini-summit" on asylum and migration in Brussels, an event that will come ahead of next week's European Council summit.

Ahead of the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that large part of discussions will be external borders and reducing illegal migration into the EU. In the meantime, she stressed that there cannot be a solution on migration at summit on Thursday, but multilateral agreements are needed.

Earlier, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that the so-called Visegrad Group (V4), which includes Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, would boycott Sunday's summit which the V4 insists should be organized by the European Council, not the European Commission.

According to Orban, the Visegrad Group favors the idea of screening centers outside the EU where asylum-seekers could present their requests for protection.

Hungary has repeatedly called for the creation of such centers in Africa, with the new Italian government signaling its support for the idea.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos rejected the proposal, describing it as a "Guantanamo Bay for migrants" which he said comes "against our European values."

2018.06.24 / 18:33
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