Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was delighted after her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama signed the agreement last week.
“Italy is leading the way for the rest of Europe,” he said.
What’s the matter? Well, migrants who are now being cared for at sea by the Italian Coast Guard will no longer be brought ashore in Italy. Instead, they will be taken to Albania, where their asylum applications will be fast-tracked.
“Already in the spring of 2024, everything will be ready and the agreement will be in force,” Meloni said at a press conference where he and Eddy Rama signed documents, shook hands and smiled for the cameras.
“When Italy calls, Albania answers,” Prime Minister Rama said.
In record time, two large immigration centers are to be built where up to 40,000 people a year could be detained. According to the Italian government, the majority of migrants arriving in Italy do not have the resources to seek asylum. As of November 9 this year, fewer than 146,000 migrants have arrived in Italy, compared with 90,000 for the whole of 2022. In addition to these, there is a large dark figure. Meloney was involved in reducing illegal immigration and was criticized for cheating key voters. Now the answer came in the form of a contract. Italy will immediately donate 16.5 million euros to its neighbor on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. These are to be used to set up the first reception in the port city of Shenzhen, and a migrant center further north at an old military air base. 3,000 migrants a month can be quickly received and rejected if they do not have grounds to seek asylum. But Maloney was also criticized for the deal.
“It seems to me that this violates both EU law and international law, which deprives migrants of their basic human rights. Instead of leaving Italy alone, Giorgia Meloni should persuade her nationalist friends in other countries to accept her people,” said opposition leader Ellie Schlein.
The deal with Albania has been met with a whole range of cheers to protests, depending on the political domicile. Many lawyers protested and believed the agreement violated Italy’s constitution. But Interior Minister Matteo Piandosi assures that the legal aspects have been carefully examined. All staff on site at reception centers must be Italian, from those handling asylum applications to the military and police handling security.
“This could become a model for the whole of Europe, to deal with large migrant flows,” says Georgia Meloni, referring in particular to Great Britain and Denmark, which have already tried to outsource the asylum process. However, Rwanda does not meet the requirements as a safe third country, whereas Albania does, according to Italy. But in Brussels, people are waiting.
“We have requested more details about the agreement, but it appears at first sight to be different from what Britain wanted to conclude with Rwanda,” says Anita Hipper, a spokeswoman for the European Commission.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, after intense pressure, has promised tighter border controls and has not ruled out a solution similar to Italy’s. What will Albania gain from this deal? By far, Italy is the country’s most important trading partner, accounting for 20 percent of Albania’s GDP through trade and tourism. Already this summer, when Giorgia Meloni was a guest of Edi Rama, she promised that Italy would work for Albania to become a member of the European Union. But in a lengthy interview with RAI, in excellent Italian, Prime Minister Edi Rama says none of this was the main reason he and the country’s socialist government agreed to the deal.
“If the socialists in the PD don’t think they’re leftists, let them think we’re helping Italy now. I respect everyone, but in a situation where no one in the EU wants to help Italy, when everyone’s talking about not solving a decades-long crisis, this is the least Tirana can do,” Rama said. says
The tides of debate are high, but according to Georgia Meloni, a vote in Parliament is not needed and construction of the repository should begin immediately.
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