Berlusconi-Zapatero : Immigration Must Be An EU Priority


By Fabrizio Finzi
September 11, 2009

LA MADDALENA, SARDINIA – Spain has undertaken to use its forthcoming presidency of the European Union (for the first six months of 2010) to construct a truly European policy to combat irregular migration and has promised that Rome and Madrid will follow the same line at the Pittsburgh G20 in seeking a swift and lasting economic recovery.

This is the crux of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's haul from the Italo-Spanish summit that has been held here at Maddalena. It has been a ''fruitful'' meeting which has revealed broad ''political and personal agreements'' between the prime ministers of Italy and Spain.

Trade between the two countries is proceeding apace and the two Mediterranean powers find themselves today more ''twinned'' than ever, at least in their shared desire to find a solution to the drama of illicit African immigration. This predicament was mentioned several times by Berlusconi today as he called on other European nations to show solidarity, as he rebuffed charges – coming mainly from the world of Catholicism – of carrying out inhumane and immoral policies in repelling boatloads of migrants on the high seas.

''On the front of the fight against immigration, we are conducting ourselves in a completely Christian and civilized way'', the Italian premier intoned to the joint press conference held with Jose' Luis Zapatero. ''Nobody in peril at sea has ever been left to their fate by Italy'', Berlusconi added, stressing, however, that other countries ''have done so''.

Berlusconi returned to this accusation in reaffirming that ''there is not any clash'' with the Church, and that relations were in fact ''excellent''.

But if Italy and Spain ''have the same problems and have the same solutions up their sleeves that Europe should adopt'', on the issue of immigration, Zapatero explained that getting Europe to accept the necessity of a policy on immigration involving all 27 ''means digesting the fact that the borders of every European state are all of Europe's borders''.

While this was happening at Maddalena, in Gubbio at the same time the Speaker of Italy's Lower House, Gianfranco Fini was on the attack: ''It is time to stop mortifying proposals; saying that the vote should be given to immigrants at local elections isn't a 'Catto-Communist' proposal – it is, indeed, already policy in many European countries''. (ANSAmed).