Italy’s foreign minister and his Greek counterpart met in Rome on Wednesday to discuss key issues related to migration flows in the Mediterranean as thousands of migrants risk their lives trying to reach European shores.
Rome and Athens agreed on the need to put pressure on European partners to help manage the massive flow of migrants who often leave North African countries to build a new life in Europe.
Italy and Greece remain the two main entry points for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, taking the most dangerous route to try to enter Europe.
“The countries of southern Europe cannot be left alone, in an emergency situation involving tens of thousands of people, who will have to relocate to other countries in the Union,” said Antonio Tajani after having met his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias.
“Italy and Greece always show solidarity with people in difficult situations, but they cannot accommodate everyone for long periods of time,” he said. “The current rules can be improved.”
Dendias underlined that “immigration is a huge challenge for southern European countries, which bear the greatest burden”.
The two ministers also discussed the situation in Libya, developments in Ukraine and bilateral relations.
Addressing the ongoing row with France and NGOs operating in the Mediterranean, which was recently denied a safe port to disembark rescued migrants in Italy, Tajani said Rome had always respected and enforced the rules.
“Mediterranean stability is fundamental, a stronger presence is needed and we have always insisted on a European foreign and security policy that seeks stability,” he said.
Dendias added: “It is not easy to solve the problem if we do not try to improve the situation in Libya as well. Europe must do more and our cooperation with Italy in this area is very close.