British media comment on Edi Rama-Georgia Meloni deal


Nov 8, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

British television station Sky News has seen new documents detailing Italy's controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Albania, showing the plan is far less radical than the UK's own proposal to send people to Rwanda. 

The Italian agreement, announced by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni together with Albanian leader Edi Rama, said up to 3,000 asylum seekers could be sent to Albania each month after being first rescued by Italian vessels, such as the coast guard or police.

The announcement did not answer key questions, such as what would happen to people after their asylum claims were decided. But internal documents that British television says it has seen now answer those questions. They make it clear that, unlike the UK plan for Rwanda, the joint agreement only covers the period during which their applications are being considered and a short period afterwards.

If a migrant is granted asylum, then the person would be taken to Italy to start a new life. The UK plan, in contrast, stipulates that a successful asylum seeker would be forced to stay in Rwanda.

The Italian agreement also states that if it proves impossible to send someone to their country of origin, then they will be returned to Italy again after a certain period of time, believed to be 40 days. The agreement was agreed directly between Mrs. Meloni and Mr. Rama.

Sky News writes that Ms. Meloni's two deputy prime ministers, Antonio Tajani and Matteo Salvini, were unaware of the agreement until shortly before its announcement. Italy will pay for the construction of the processing centers and will also allocate a €100 million fund to cover any costs Albania may incur.

It has also been agreed that the total number of immigrants housed in these centers will not exceed 3,000. The agreement document makes it clear that it aims to promote "bilateral cooperation in all sectors" in light of "the accession of the Republic of Albania to the Union European".

Albania is a candidate country to join the EU, having applied for the first time in 2009. The EU has asked for more details on the plan to send migrants to Albania, after questions about whether it respects European law. Tajani has insisted that it is, while Elly Schlein, head of the opposition Democratic Party, called it "an open violation of international and European law". Meloni is said to be planning to travel to the Albanian capital, Tirana, in the spring and wants the first camp to open in May 2024, just before the European elections.

Sot News