Status: 26.09.2023, 06:25 a.m.
By: Stefan Krieger
Germany wants to provide financial support for aid organisations in the Mediterranean. Italy's Prime Minister Meloni sees this as interference in internal Italian affairs.
Rome/Berlin – New conflict between Germany and Italy: Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has complained to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) about German financial aid for civilian sea rescuers in the Mediterranean. "I was astonished to learn that your government – without coordination with the Italian government – has allegedly decided to provide significant funding to non-governmental organizations dealing with the reception of irregular migrants on Italian territory and rescue operations in the Mediterranean," Meloni wrote in a letter to Scholz. This was reported by the Italian newspaper La Stampa on Monday (26 September).
Meloni's official residence confirmed the report when asked. A spokesman for the German government also said that the letter had been received and that a reaction would follow: "The letter will be answered."
Meloni writes to Scholz: interference in internal Italian affairs
Rome considers it interference in internal Italian affairs that the German government wants to support aid organizations that take care of migrants on Italian soil. The Foreign Office had pointed out on Friday that a decision of the Bundestag would be implemented. The first money – between 400,000 and 800,000 euros each – is to be paid out "shortly", to a project for supply on land and a project for rescue at sea. One of the organizations is SOS Humanity.
Giorgia Meloni writes to Olaf Scholz: "I was astonished to learn ..." © IMAGO/Francesco Fotia
A spokesperson for the Federal Foreign Office stressed on Monday: "It took some time for the various non-governmental organisations worthy of support to be selected. That has now happened, and accordingly the funding is now coming." The funding was determined by the Bundestag.
Meloni's government under pressure
The provision of significant financial support by Germany to organizations operating on Italian soil raises questions, according to Meloni in her letter dated last Saturday. Moreover, this was done without consultation with the Italian government. Instead, EU countries interested in effective support for Italy should rather look for structural solutions, the head of government said in her letter to Scholz. As an example, she cited the work on an EU initiative with transit countries in North Africa.
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The government in Rome had already struck an increasingly harsh tone against Berlin in recent days. Italy's Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, for example, spoke of "very serious" behavior. Like Meloni, Crosetto belongs to the ultra-right ruling party Fratelli d'Italia. Meloni's government is under pressure because of the current high number of migrants. This year, around 133,000 people have already crossed the Mediterranean, almost twice as many as in the same period last year. Estimates put the figure at about 70,000 people for the same period last year. (skr with agencies)