Dispute between France and Italy escalates over rescue ship “Ocean Viking”

Dispute between France and Italy escalates over rescue ship “Ocean Viking”
Dispute between France and Italy escalates over rescue ship “Ocean Viking”

Dispute between France and Italy escalates over rescue ship “Ocean Viking”

The multi-week saga surrounding the refugee rescue ship “Ocean Viking” with around 230 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean finally ended with the ship docking in the French port of Toulon on Friday, but the exchange of allegations escalated between the two countries.

The ship, operated by the French aid organization SOS Mediterranee, was at the forefront of the dispute between Paris and Rome.

Italy’s refusal to allow the ship to dock in any of its ports prompted it to embark on a voyage to find safe haven, eventually ending up on the coast of France.

The “Ocean Viking” arrived at the military port in southern France on Friday and the migrants and refugees were allowed to disembark.

Although the crisis is over, the diplomatic row between the two European Union countries shows no signs of abating.

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin responded by announcing plans to tighten border controls with Italy. At the junction between Ventimiglia and Menton near Nice, officers checked cars coming from Italy, as shown on television.

More than 10 crossings are monitored by around 500 French police officers.

Laurence Bonn, France’s Minister of State for European Affairs, described the border with Italy as closed, with passport controls.

In addition, Darmanin said it had been decided that France would not take in 3,500 immigrants from Italy as previously planned until next summer.

Italian Prime Minister Giorga Meloni has criticized Paris for its dissatisfaction with welcoming 230 migrants, while “about 90,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year”.

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