top of page

Italy, Europe Pick the Global Compact for Migration Card, But Probably it Won't be Enough

United Nations: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte supported Wednesday the UN Global Compact for Migration but showed off skepticism that this document will solve all the European problems over immigration and human rights.

"This is a mysterious riddle," Conte told reporters during a press conference after his remarks at the UN General Assembly, referring to a statement of Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Moments before the press conference held by Conte, Bachelet has stated that "the Global Compact for Migration is a great opportunity" and "a document based on a human right approach."

"I hope that many countries will approve it next December in Marrakech," Bachelet told reporters in a stakeout at the United Nations, assuming that the Intergovernal Conference scheduled in Marrakech will help to solve the European difficulties.

"We will see," Conte cut off.

"What can I assure here is that the first priorities of my government are protecting the fundamental rights, saving lives [in the Mediterranean Sea], and defending the dignity of the human people," he continued.

Although the different sensibilities on the Global Compact for Migration, the 73rd General Assembly has been an opportunity for both Italian Government and the UN Commissioner to settle after Michelle Bachelet had sent teams to Italy and Austria to look into the protection of migrants, and Italy sharply criticized the new U.N. human rights chief for her "inappropriate" concerns.

Foreign Minister of Italy Enzo Milanesi met with UN Commissioner Bachelet Tuesday at the United Nations with the aim of appeasing her. "We were recognized of our efforts in saving lives and aiding migrants across the Mediterranean," a Foreign Minister's statement said.

But Italy's foreign position is still likely to be ambiguous.

During the General Assembly meetings, Foreign Minister Enzo Milanesi referred to Italy as a "global country."

In his remarks at the UN General Assembly, the Italian Prime Minister first defended the ideology of multilateralism, in contrast to the US President Donald Trump: "We believe in an efficacy multilateralism," Conte remarked.

But during his speech, he also said that "the words 'people' and 'sovereignty' are a part of our Constitution, at the Article 1," referring to those consider his government as the first populist and anti-establishment in Italy after the Second World War.

And the Interior Minister, the leader of the League Party Matteo Salvini, never hesitated to stand with Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, who just withdraw his country from the UN Global Compact of Migration that Italy supports.

This spread of positions inside the Italian government seems to have consequences on the single foreign issues, where Italy has often changed side.

On Iran, Prime Minister Conte remarked that "Italian position is the European position" and expressed concern about the US decision to leave the nuclear deal. "We can't reject it, it wouldn't be useful."

Also, the relationships between Italy and Egypt are still the same: "We have a long tradition with Egypt and we want to protect it," Conte told reporters speaking about his bilateral meeting with Al-Sisi.

On Libya, President Al-Sisi is considered as a privileged speaker for Italy, along with US President Donald Trump, and Egypt as "an important stakeholder," as Conte remarked.

On immigration, instead, the wound between Italy and other European countries like France has not healed.

Conte clashed late Tuesday French President Emmanuel Macron after France, Portugal, Spain, and Germany struck a deal to take in 58 migrants from the Mediterranean rescue ship Aquarius, and the French President urged "an upcoming political crisis between Italy and Europe on immigration."

The ship, the only charity-operated rescue boat working in the central Mediterranean, has been turned away by Italy. On Monday, also Panama authorities revoked the Aquarius vessel’s registration. For this reason, Aquarius asked the help of the other European countries.

"When he talks about a political crisis, he [President Macron] represents just France. Thank God, Europe is composed of 27 countries", Prime Minister Conte surprisingly remarked Monday during another press conference with the Italian press. "If he, my friend Macron, is speaking as the French President I think it is totally fine," he concluded.

Emmanuel Macron didn't release any comment over Conte's remarks.

Now, after the General Assembly, the focus is on the Conference on Libya, scheduled next November in Sicily, where Italy will stand with the United States.

And on the final adoption of the Global Compact for Migration, in December, where Italy and France will stand together. In opposition to the US administration.

bottom of page