Penalty if Italy doesn't pay budget share says Oettinger

Di Maio repeats threat, Salvini clashes with Macron

(ANSA) - Berlin, August 29 - Italy will incur a penalty if it doesn't pay its EU budget quota in a row over migrants, European Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Die Welt Wednesday.
    "All EU States have assumed the obligation of paying their contributions within the established time," he said.
    "All the rest would be a violation of the treaties which would entail penalties".
    He said "Italy has won our support in tackling the migrant crisis and its consequences, I can only warn Rome about mixing the migrant issue with the EU budget".
    Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio was undeterred by Oettinger's statement, reiterating Wednesday that Italy will veto the EU budget unless it gets more help in dealing with migrants.
    Oettinger, Di Maio said, "continues to make statements every day ever since we told him we're not going to give them the money." "We never heard from them when we asked them for a hand on migration.
    "The only thing this EU understands is when you start to cut their money.
    "Our position on the budget veto remains the same. If over the coming days they start to rediscover the spirit of solidarity with which the EU was founded, then we'll talk about it".
    Italy's new hardline stance on migrants has been criticised by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has said he is the adversary of European populists and nationalists.
    Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who agreed on migrants with Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban in Milan Tuesday, said Wednesday "the main adversary of Macron, looking at the polls, is the French people".
    He said "instead of giving lectures to other governments he should throw open his own borders, starting from the one at Ventimiglia (with Italy).
    "And he should stop destabilising Libya for economic interests".
    Macron said on a visit to Denmark Wednesday that he was an adversary of Salvini and Orban, who criticised him when they met in Milan Tuesday - where Orban called Salvini "my hero" for trying to stop sea-borne migrants.
    The French president said the pair "are right" to see him as their "main adversary" in Europe on the migrant issue.
    "I will not give in to the nationalists and those who preach hatred," Macron said.
    "If they wanted to see me as their main adversary they are right".
    Some 100 migrants who landed from the coast guard ship Diciotti after a 10-day standoff with the EU arrived Wednesday at a Catholic-run reception centre in Rocca di Papa south of Rome.
    The migrants were met by a crowd split between those welcoming them and those saying they were not welcome there - despite the fact that they will soon be sent around Italy.
    The Democratic Party (PD) former mayor of the Lazio town, Pasquale Boccia, said ahead of their arrival: "it can't be done, there is rancour on the part of the residents, which is turning into hatred, we're already hosting enough of them".
    The head of the cooperative that runs the migrant centre in Rocca di Papa, Domenico Alagia, said "they will remain a few days in the centre and then will be welcomed by the diocese which said they were prepared to take them around Italy".
    Another 39 have remained in the hotspot in Messina, waiting to be transferred to Albania and Ireland, the only two nations who have said they will take some of the Diciotti migrants.
    The Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) has said the 100 will be shortly transferred to the many dioceses who have given their availability: Turin, Brescia, Bologna, Agrigento, Cassano all'Jonio, Rossano Calabro, among others.
    The stand-off came after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini kept the migrants aboard saying they would not land until the EU agreed to take them.
    Salvini is under investigation by an Agrigento prosecutor for alleged kidnapping, illegal arrest and abuse of office.
    Albanian Premier Edi Rama said Tuesday Italy had been left alone by the EU to cope with the migrant emergency.
    Speaking in Genoa after agreeing to take in 20 Eritrean migrants from the Diciotti after the standoff, Rama said "Italy has been the most welcoming country in Europe in the last 30 years, but it has been left alone and nerves are no longer so solid, we intervened hoping that Europe would do something concrete to resolve the problem".
    "We (Albanians) were once the Eritreans. Italy was our promised land and the Italians did not ever leave us in the middle of the sea". Migrants "should be drowned in the open sea", a doctor at Spoleto hospital said on her Facebook page recently, sources said Tuesday.
    The doctor works in the ER ward at the Umbrian hospital.
    Il Messaggero newspaper said she called migrants "n**gers with Nike shoes and full bellies" and said they had scabies because of the "violence they perpetrated".
    The local health authority told ANSA it had started disciplinary proceedings against her.
    The doctor made her remarks in a Facebook group with some 38,000 doctors on it.
    Her profile had been deleted Tuesday morning.
    Also on Wednesday, a European Commission spokesperson said migrants must consent when resettlement involves a transfer from an EU member like Italy to a third country like Albania.
    Commenting on Rome's deal with Tirana to take 20 migrants from the Diciotti ship, the spokesperson said: "When it is a question of bilateral accords between a member State and a third country", the spokesperson said, "you have to ask them (the migrants) for details...there are several elements to take into consideration in assessing their legality".
    "In particular there is the consent of the people" to making asylum claims in countries other than those they arrived in, the spokesperson said.
    Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta will on Thursday propose to her EU colleagues a rotation of landing ports for the Sophia anti-human-trafficking mission so that not all migrants land in Italy, sources said Wednesday.
    "Italy should not still be the only country to take on the problem, but also other member States," she will put to them. The Libyan coast guard says it has intercepted some 400 migrants heading for Europe in the last week, including dozens of women and children, off its coast.
    Coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim explained that the migrants received humanitarian aid and medical care and were taken to refugee camps in the cities of Zawiya e Tajoura.
    Italy has a deal with Libyan coast guards to pull back migrants heading for Italy. Two Ukrainian people traffickers have been arrested for bringing 44 Afghan migrants including 12 children to Italy on board a sailboat from Turkey, police said Wednesday.
    The boat landed near Noto in Sicily on Monday, they said.


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