As the EU’s new migrant redistribution policy comes into effect, Italy’s new hardline interior minister hailed a victory.
This week 500 Libyan migrants have arrived in Europe. They will be taken in by Germany, France and Malta.
Interior Minister and La Lega head Matteo Salvini today hailed the scheme as a success and said the burden on the country was being eased thanks to the new proposals.
He said: “Italy is no longer the refugee camp of the world. There is now a government that protects the interests of the citizens, and now everyone in the EU has realised that we cannot be the only ones to accept migrants.
“But the objective is to stop departures, not the division at European level.”
He said Rome would be steadfast in its refusal of migrants and the country would only stick to agreed quotas.
Mr Salvini said: “Firmness and coherence produce results, the time of fearful governments has ended. We have saved women and children.
“An excellent team work of the whole government, thanks to our premier Conte.”
“The next goal, to stop once and for all the mafia of human trafficking, will be to bring back the immigrants to their places of origin.
“In Italy, and in Europe, only those who have permission are allowed.”
Referring to the two Open Arms ships that are returning to Libya, he said: “Save time, effort and money. Be aware that Italian ports are not available”.
Mr Salvini’s statement follows a deal being struck over the weekend, which saw Italy agreeing to take 50 of 450 migrants in to the country if the rest of the bloc followed suit.
Guiseppe Conte, the Prime Minister of Italy and a relative political newcomer in Italian politics, thanked countries such as France and Germany for agreeing to share the responsibility on Sunday.
Mr Conte said on Twitter: “This is the solidarity and responsibility that we have always asked of Europe and that now, after the results obtained at the last European Council, are beginning to become a reality.”
But he condemned Austria for remaining silent on the issue, while Visegrad nations such as Hungary and Czech Republic, refused to open their borders.
On Sunday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis refused to take part in the shared responsibility initiative, saying the new proposals were “a road to hell”.
Czech Prime Minister and billionaire businessman Andrej Babis took issue with the plan and wrote on Twitter: “I received the letter from the Italian PM Conte asking the EU to take care of part of the 450 people now at sea and such an approach is the road to hell”.