Italian Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese (R), during a joint press conference after the meeting with her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin (L), at Viminale Palace, Rome, Italy, 6 November 2020 | Photo: ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Italian Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese (R), during a joint press conference after the meeting with her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin (L), at Viminale Palace, Rome, Italy, 6 November 2020 | Photo: ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI

Italian vessels and airplanes could be deployed to monitor international waters off Tunisia in order to report to authorities in the North African country the departure of migrant boats. The plan, proposed by Italy, was discussed by Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin during a meeting held on November 7 in Rome.

On November 7, Italy proposed a plan to deploy ships and airplanes to report to Tunisian authorities migrant boats departing from its coasts and to intercept them before they enter international waters.

The plan was presented to Tunisian authorities by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Friday (November 6) at the start of a tour of Maghreb countries.

It is aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration from the North African country, which has spiked also due to a dramatic economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and to prevent potential terrorists from hiding among immigrants after the Nice attack last month.

A Tunisian man who killed three people in Nice landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa at the end of September and travelled to France at the beginning of October, security sources have said.

Darmanin stopped over in Rome to meet with Lamorgese ahead of his tour of Maghreb, which is aimed at obtaining the repatriation of radicalized people.

'Never thought Italy made mistakes', says Darmanin

The Italian and French interior ministers on Friday expressed the need for joint action at a European level to fight a battle, which is "also cultural," against jihadism and radicalization, Darmanin said.

Both ministers spoke about sharing strategies in Brussels and in Africa and spoke about the need to involve Germany for a common front against Visegrad countries -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Both highlighted the "consolidated collaboration" between the two countries and the fact that there was no friction between them although the 21-year-old killer in Nice crossed into France from Italy.

"I never thought that Italy made mistakes," said Darmanin. "On the contrary, I thank your country for the exchange of information and perfect collaboration."

Two plans of intervention

Common action discussed during the meeting on Friday includes two plans of intervention -- one involving joint Italian-French initiatives and another one aimed at involving Brussels.

The first provides for the creation of joint border patrol brigades as part of the effort to combat terrorism and illegal immigration.

The experimental project will last six months and will include the opening of a border police precinct in Bardonecchia.

"This project was not created today," said Lamorgese. "We have been working on it for some time and it will become operative soon for a six-month trial."

Darmanin said that "borders will not be closed but there will be these joint brigades to boost controls. Free circulation and commercial exchanges are guaranteed -- the fight is against terrorism and illegal immigration."

Italian-French initaitives, Brussels involvement

The plan to monitor the sea with Italian ships and airplanes is part of this framework of joint initiatives and will be presented by Darmanin to Tunisian authorities.

Lamorgese explained that the vessels and aircrafts will be deployed to warn Tunisia of departures so "authorities can intervene in total autonomy."

The plan "obviously implies the full adhesion of Tunisia," she added.

Europe would play a key role in this context with adequate measures to improve living conditions in the countries of provenance and transit of immigration. Brussels would also have a crucial role in repatriations.

"A road map is necessary to negotiate readmission agreements with the main African countries which have not been activated yet," Lamorgese also said.

 

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