The Malta Independent 20 January 2019, Sunday

Salvini and Napoli mayor trade shots on social media

Thursday, 3 January 2019, 15:10 Last update: about 16 days ago

Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini and the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, were yesterday locked in a social media spat after de Magistris said that he would be opening the city’s port for 32 migrants who are currently stranded aboard the NGO search and rescue vessel Sea Watch 3.

Speaking during a radio interview, he said that he wished the ship would move closer to Naples so that he may defy the Italian Government and help save them, and host them in Naples.

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The vessel picked up the migrants near the Libyan coast on 22 December but no country has allowed it to enter port. Another NGO vessel, the Professor Albrecht Penck, operated by Sea-Eye and holding onboard another 17 migrants, is also being refused entry. Both vessel are sheltering close to the Maltese coast. 

The Maltese government has said it is not legally responsible for the migrants. The European Commission, the Maltese Bishops, several NGOs and over 300 academics have called on EU member states to open their ports. 

The Catania mayor condemned the action of leaving individuals in the middle of the sea in the cold and stormy weather as “a criminal act”, and remarked on whether there is collegiality in the Italian Government, as Salvini seemed to be the one commanding – causing him to act through civil disobedience.

In response, Salvini insisted that the Italian ports are closed and that Italy has already accepted enough migrants.

Speaking on social media, Salvini commented that he will not give in, adding that those Mayors who are looking for publicity by undermining him will not succeed in changing his mind on the question.

According to RAI News, De Magistris’ reaction occurred after his own declaration that he will not be applying the security laws with regards to immigration.

This, he said, went against Naples’ constitution, and will not be implemented as it conflicts with their principles.

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