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The Ocean Viking, with over 230 migrants taken by the NGO SOS Méditerranée, docked in Toulon on Friday 11 November … After the refusal of Giorgia Meloni – President of the Council of Ministers of Italy – to welcome these exhausted men, women and children. In short, this boat demonstrates the extent to which Europe is incapable of any coordination. At least when it comes to migrants.
How is it possible that two countries, historically and geographically linked, two neighbors in the heart of Europe, are thus torn apart by intervening ministers over a tragic humanitarian episode? “It is by way of exception that we welcome this boat, given the fifteen days of waiting at sea to which the Italian authorities have subjected the passengers”, Gérald Darmanin was the first to launch, “an incomprehensible choice” of Italy, “which thus takes from the part of not behaving as a responsible European state ”, continued the Minister of the Interior. It was enough for Giorgia Meloni to come forward: “The aggressive reaction of the French government is incomprehensible and unjustified”, the head of the Italian government replies in Paris.
Upon arrival, in this Franco-Italian stalemate, it was Emmanuel Macron’s France that yielded. And he was probably right to do so. Because before the landing of the humanitarian ship in Toulon, the Ocean Viking had suffered the refusal of the Italian authorities, three weeks of pilgrimage and ordeal for the 234 migrants on board – including 57 children – waiting for what European soil would consider them , at least a little, dignity. France has saved the honor of a Europe, and above all of an Italy, determined to send a strong message in terms of strengthening the reception of immigrants. The Meloni effect perhaps, and more generally the progressive extreme right of the continent for several years. Just look at RN’s reactions after Emmanuel Macron’s decision …
So France saved the honor, yes. But from there to qualify him as a good Samaritan? Our country took time to decide. And, for want of something better, he ended up accepting the Ocean Viking’s landing on her land. A situational humanism, exceptional, by default. The same humanism that Emmanuel Macron lacked in 2018 when Acquarium, the other red-hulled boat, asked for a safe harbor to facilitate the journey of hundreds of migrants. “Humanism is not a good feeling […] If I followed this path, it would take the country to extremes ”, launched the President of the Republic four years ago. A self-confident humanist does not think about the aftermath, does not foresee a breaking through of extremes and forgets the calculations, when a boat made of human lives in perdition asks to be accepted.
It would be all too easy to punish Italian cynicism alone. Because obviously not all European countries are affected equally by these latest ships. Meloni recalled that his country welcomed 90,000 migrants this year, much more than in 2021 (just under 70,000, RFI). Italy is at the forefront of arrivals from Libya. Just like Greece, Cyprus and Malta. The ministers of the interior of these four countries did not fail to recall the fragility of the voluntary solidarity mechanism. Which counted, in June, on a goal of relocating 10,000 people in the first year to other countries (volunteers, and France is one of them) compared to those of first entry. And according to these four states, the contract, even if it is just a short distance away, is light years away from fulfillment. Therefore, may the countries that have accepted this mechanism also assume their responsibilities… to prevent Italy from continuing to welcome all the misery in the world!
In short, “something is not working” in the European management of migrants, defended Georgia Meloni, finally a flight on which we all agree. While Europe should meet and find solidarity internally, France has decided, in protest, to suspend “with immediate effect” the reception scheduled for this summer of 3,500 refugees currently in Italy. Surely, in France, the unexpected welcome of this Ocean Viking, who should have received his Italian neighbor, just does not pass. What will happen to these small settlements between European states when it comes to tackling the massive arrivals of climate migrants in the future … Europe, where are you?