Germany, Berlin: Yesterday, the German and Italian leaders pledged to tackle Europe’s migrant influx but failed to resolve discord on an EU deal with Turkey to limit arrivals, a day after Berlin moved to tighten asylum rules. Chancellor Angela Merkel said that, with 2,000 new asylum seekers entering the Balkans every day, the European Union “urgently” needs to implement a deal that asks Turkey to better protect its borders in return for financial support.
Merkel said at a Berlin press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, “we must fight illegality,” combat human traffickers and avoid migrant deaths at sea. Renzi, who has stalled on signing off on the three-billion-euro ($3.3 billion) EU payment to Ankara and traded barbs with Brussels, said he was still seeking clarification about the details from the EU executive.
“We are still waiting for the answers to specific questions we sent to the (European) Commission,” he said, adding that once there is clarity, “there can be no doubt that we will make our contribution”. Responding to recent German criticism that Italy has been slow to set up “hotspot” migrant registration centres, he said that Italian police were now “registering 100 percent of refugees” and taking their photos and fingerprints.
In a diplomatic show of unity after Renzi has repeatedly criticised “German dominance” in EU affairs, both leaders said that the migrant crisis can only be solved if the 28 members of the bloc work together. Renzi added that “for many years it seemed that the problem of migration was a purely Italian problem. Today we know that it is a European problem. And I believe it will last for months, maybe years.”