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From Rome to New York, the Two Faces of Italy on Immigration and Multilateralism

NEW YORK - Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi calls the international community on constructively confronting during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, "because if we talk here, we don't argue elsewhere." But the Italian government, the same morning, approves a new bill on migration that abolishes key forms of protection for migrants and expected to be at the center of new controversy.

During a press briefing on Monday morning with the Italian media, at the Rose Garden in the United Nations, Minister Milanesi supported the concept of multilateralism. He confirmed that "the situation in Libya is a priority for our government," and that "we are working on a conference in Rome, in November, to help in to find a way to stabilize the political situation of the country." Then, responding to an answer of a reporter, Milanesi defined the immigration an "epochal phenomenon" and "one of the biggest concerns for our citizens in Italy," calling on all the European countries to work together on this issue, because migrants are "people who are looking for Europe, not a specific Spanish, Greek or Italian islands, and they are looking for a better life."

In the morning, before the press briefing with the Italian media, Mr. Milanesi attended the High-Level Week Event "the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem", held by US President Donald Trump. On Tuesday 25, he will attend another High-Level side event, "Death Penalty: Poverty and the Right to Legal Representation", along with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. Recently, Commissioner Bachelet harshly criticized the Italian government for refusing entry to migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean operated by private charities. The tomorrow meeting will be the first occasion she and Minister Milanesi will meet each other. "I think it is going to be a perfect meeting to clarify our positions. We believe that those critics of our country are unfair," Milanesi said, pointing out that "these evaluations about the respect of the human rights have already been in the past, and there always be overcome."

But Monday morning, while Minister Milanesi was confirming to the Italian media that multilateralism and the respect of the human rights will always be a priority of Italy, the Italian government approved a bill on migration that will long be discussed, in Europe and around the world. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, one of the main leaders of the Five-Star Movement, approved a series of measures that will see the Italian government abolish key forms of protection for migrants and make it easier for them to be deported. The bill drafted by Matteo Salvini, the far-right interior minister, and leader of the League Party, will also suspend the refugee application process of those are considered “socially dangerous” or who have been convicted of a crime and abolishes humanitarian protection. "This is a step forward to making Italy safer," Minister Salvini claimed during the press conference.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attended the announcement's press conference besides Matteo Salvini, on Monday morning in Rome. Only tomorrow morning Mr. Conte is expected to arrive in New York for the General Assembly at the United Nations, where he will meet the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the State Luncheon. In that occasion, the Italian Prime Minister will also meet with US President Donald Trump, who will probably talk with about the "bilateral control room" on Mediterranean and Libya, announced last July during their meeting at the White House in Washington. Then, Wednesday afternoon Mr. Conte will participate to the General Assembly, where he is supposed to be the author of a speech focused on two main topics: the stabilization of Libya and the conference in November held in Rome, and the immigration issues in the Mediterranean area. Also, it is expected to be an excerpt about the importance of multilateralism. "We don't have any reasons to believe that there won't be," the Italian Ambassador of the United Nations Mariangela Zappia said during a press briefing with the Italian media last Friday at the Italian Mission.

A position that, however, seems to be in contrast with the Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's views on immigration and economy issues, that are more aligned with the Trump administration and the populist parties around the world. But the support of multilateralism is also be considered as a priority, according to Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi: "We shouldn't take for granted international meetings such as the General Assembly," Milanesi said this morning, adding that "Italy rejects any form of war" to solve international conflicts. "We consider ourselves as a globalist country who believes in a world without duties and sanctions," he concluded.

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