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Calming immigration tempers

brussels bureau

Calming immigration tempers


“The Commission is requesting information from the Italian and Maltese authorities in relation to the reports of the boat that was returned to Libya on Monday.”

That was the remark by a European Commission spokesman that made Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi take offence at what he felt was a criticism of Italy’s handling of an incident at sea. In Gdansk, at a war commemoration, he reacted strongly, and both sides since have been trying to calm the waters. Berlsconi said: “My position will be unequivocal and precise: we will not give our vote any more, effectively blocking the functioning of the Council (meetings of EU governments) unless it is agreed that no commissioner or spokesperson of a commissioner can publicly weigh in on any topic.” While some European politicians have expressed shock or outrage at Berlusconi’s comments, the European Justice Commissioner said little when his view was sought: Jacques Barrot said: “We are carrying out our role, and our friend (gesturing to the spokesman) only informed you, the journalists, and I believe it’s not worth looking for comment when it doesn’t seem warranted.” A UN spokeswoman on Monday accused Italy of sending back the boatload of migrants without giving them a chance to request asylum, and she called the case “very serious”.

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