A new proof of appeasement? Emmanuel Macron met this Tuesday in Rome with the head of the Italian government, in the middle of the European debate on the migration file. The President of the Republic, who received Giorgia Meloni in June in Paris, participated in the morning in the funeral of former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
The two leaders arrived together around 13:30 p.m. at Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the council presidency in the Italian capital, an AFP photographer said. No press briefing was planned at this stage after their meeting, said the entourage of the two officials.
"We can't leave Italians alone"
Emmanuel Macron and Giorgia Meloni have recently multiplied declarations of appeasement and willingness to act together to manage the flow of migrants after the arrival in a few days in mid-September of thousands of people on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, located 150 km from the Tunisian coast in the Mediterranean.
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"We cannot leave the Italians alone," Macron said Sunday night on television. An outstretched hand that Giorgia Meloni immediately said "welcome with great interest". They will meet again on Friday in Malta on the occasion of the 10th summit of the southern countries of the European Union.
The number of arrivals to Italy on boats from North Africa has increased, with more than 133,000 migrants registered so far this year, compared to nearly 70,000 for the same period in 2022. However, the numbers have not yet surpassed those of 2016, when more than 181,000 people, many of them Syrians fleeing the war, arrived in Italy.
Relations between Paris and Rome were strained in November 2022, when Italy refused to welcome the humanitarian ship Ocean Viking and the 230 migrants on board, pushing Paris to let it dock in Toulon, while denouncing Rome's "unacceptable" behavior. Giorgia Meloni, head of the post-fascist Fratelli d'Italia party, criticises other European states for not taking their part in welcoming migrants, while Italy is on the front line.
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At the invitation of the Italian leader, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Lampedusa and presented a ten-point emergency aid plan to strengthen controls at sea, fight smugglers and speed up asylum procedures. In Rome, Emmanuel Macron attended the civil funeral of former Italian President (2006-2015) Giorgio Napolitano, historic leader of the Communist Party and promoter of European construction, who died Friday at the age of 98.