Rutte and Italian Prime Minister Meloni want ‘Turkey deal’ with African countries Yesterday, 20:00 in Politics The two prime ministers discussed the EU’s migration problem in Rome. Italy expects extra help because more and more ships with migrants arrive at the coast or sink there.

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During Prime Minister Rutte’s visit to Italian Prime Minister Meloni, both government leaders agreed to commit themselves fully to deals with African countries on stopping illegal migration to Europe.

Rutte refers to the so-called ‘Turkey deal’. In addition, the EU and Turkey agreed that migrants, then mainly Syrian refugees, would be received in Turkey in exchange for financial support.

“We will do our part,” Rutte said at the joint press conference in Rome. He looked at Meloni and said that they are willing to travel together to African countries to make arrangements there.

Criminal networks

The two also agreed that people smugglers who send non-seaworthy boats to the Mediterranean will be looked into in a European context. Rutte: “Last week’s terrible boat disaster has painfully emphasized the urgency. We must tackle those criminal networks with one accord.”

Italy is stricter for the ships that rescue migrants from the sea than the Netherlands. Meloni imposed restrictions on aid organizations in a law, allowing them to deposit fewer migrants in Italy. Rutte acknowledged that there are differences. “Italy and the Netherlands will not agree on everything.”

Rutte was received at the government palace and gave Meloni flowers because of International Women’s Day:

Prime Minister Rutte is received at the Palazzo Chigi

Nevertheless, the role of NGOs and other aid organizations is also being looked at, Rutte said. He expressed caution as he has faced criticism from NGOs over his earlier statement that “there are good and bad NGOs”.

In the House of Representatives, the left-wing opposition parties said today that he “criminalizes” aid organizations. But VVD and D66 said they were happy that Rutte nuanced that statement yesterday.

Rutte’s decision to talk about migration restrictions with the right-wing Meloni was also criticized in the House. JA21 leader Eerdmans: “The VVD is right-wing for two weeks every four years, and that’s when the elections are approaching.”

Tiny little toddler steps

Despite the optimism of Rutte and Meloni, a new ‘Turkey deal’ is not yet received with cheers in the House of Representatives. The Netherlands has been trying for years to make such migration agreements with African countries.

A few years ago, Tunisia was also mentioned as a host country, but that country itself was not interested. So the question is whether it will work now.

State Secretary Van der Burg (Asylum) was moderately positive this afternoon in the House of Representatives about the chance of such a deal. A country like Tunisia must get something in return, he said, such as visas for Tunisians who are allowed to study or work in Europe for a few years. “It goes in very small teeny tiny toddler steps, but something is going to happen.”

  • Rutte to Italian Prime Minister Meloni, migrant ships high on the agenda
  • New migrant drama moves Italy: ‘Blaming only smugglers is hypocritical’
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