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EU: 'Disappointment and anger' prompted Italian threat to leave Europe

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Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini on Tuesday said comments made by a fellow minister about dropping out of the European Union were made during the heat of the moment amid a spat over illegal immigration.

“I don’t think he said anything about leaving Europe. He expressed strong disappointment , irritation and anger. Europe is and will be an extraordinary opportunity for us,” Frattini told reporters in Luxembourg.

European Union interior ministers on Monday rejected their Italian counterpart Robert Maroni’s bid to issue temporary visas to more than 20,000 mostly Tunisans that would allow them to travel to other members of the border-free Schengen zone.

Following a meeting in Luxembourg, Maroni lashed out at the EU, accusing it of abandoning Italy amid a wave of migrants arriving on its southern shores following uprisings in Tunisia and other Arab countries.

I wonder if it really makes sense to continue in this position, being part of the European Union – an institution that mobilizes immediately to save banks and wage wars, but when it comes to showing real solidarity to a country in need, like Italy today, then it hides,’ Maroni said as he left the interior ministers’ meeting.

‘Faced with this social and geopolitical crisis, the answer from governments was, ‘Dear Italy, it’s your own business,” Maroni said. ‘Frankly, it’s better to be alone than with this bad company.’

Italy previously had said the boatloads of people arriving on the southern island of Lampedusa represents a crisis and offered to issue temporary visas acknowledging that the major part of the migrants intended to reach family in other countries like France and Germany.


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