Migrant crisis: Italy tells EU - ‘We are not your refugee camp’
Italy's deputy PM Matteo Salvini has launched a furious broadside against France and Germany
Mr Salvini accused Paris and Berlin of snubbing Italy - the EU nation most exposed to migration - highlighting bitter divisions within bloc and returning to an issue popular with his supporters.
Speaking in his capacity as interior minister, the leader of the populist league movement said France and Germany could no longer 'decide migration policies and ignore the demands of the most-exposed countries like us and Malta.'
He said: 'Italy is no longer the refugee camp of Brussels, Paris, Berlin.'
'It is no longer willing to welcome all immigrants arriving in Europe.'
'We intend to make ourselves respected. I explained it in Helsinki and now I have put it on paper to my French counterpart.'
'Italy has raised its head.'
The right-wing politician criticised a draft paper drawn up for a meeting of European interior ministers in Paris on how to handle the flood of migrants from Africa.
He said he was sending delegates to the Paris talks rather than attending in person.
Mr Salvino’s latest spat with EU counterparts comes amid growing tensions with his coalition partner, the Five Star Movement.
Sources claim he is considering pulling out of the alliance to prompt a new election with the hope of capitalising on a popularity surge driven by his hard-line stance on immigration.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have flooded Italy in recent years and the government estimates it spent £4.3bn aiding migrants in 2017, while receiving just £77m in EU aid.
Interior ministers gathering in Paris are planning a voluntary mechanism to swiftly relocate asylum seekers that are disembarked in Italian and Maltese ports.
They will also pledge financial and technical assistance to facilitate the swift return of migrants not entitled to asylum protection.
On the sidelines of that meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron will hold talks with the heads of the United Nations agencies dealing with migration and with refugees.