CATANIA, Sicily – The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
Italy has summoned the French ambassador for consultations after French President Emmanuel Macron criticized what he called Italy’s cynicism and irresponsibility in turning away a migrant rescue ship with more than 600 people aboard.
A statement from the foreign ministry said the ambassador had been summoned Wednesday morning “following the statements given in Paris yesterday about the Aquarius.”
Macron’s office said Tuesday that France doesn’t want to “start a precedent” that would allow some European countries to breach international laws and rely on other EU member states to take in migrants.
Spain has agreed to accept the Aquarius in its port in Valencia.
An Italian coast guard vessel has docked in Sicily with more than 900 migrants aboard, evidence that Italy’s new anti-migrant government is still taking in some asylum-seekers but is forcing the rest of Europe to accept others.
Crew aboard the Diciotti began disembarking passengers in Catania’s port early Wednesday. At the same time, the Aquarius vessel of the aid group SOS Mediterranee continued its dayslong westward voyage to Spain, where it was rerouted after Italy and Malta refused it entry.
The fates of the two ships are evidence of the policy shift by Italy’s new populist government: refuse entry to rescue ships of European-flagged aid groups, but allow Italian maritime vessels in its ports.
The shift has heightened tensions in Europe, with France accusing Italy of “cynical” and irresponsible behavior.