On 23 July, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi during the latter's first official visit to Berlin. Their talks focused on European and international issues, in particular on ways to support Italy’s maritime rescue efforts in the Mediterranean.
During their joint press conference, Foreign Minister Maas underscored the close friendship between Italy and Germany, as well as Italy’s role as “a traditional pillar of the European Union, and therefore also of the European idea”. Italy, he went on to say, is not only one of the original architects of the European Union, but also one of the “designers, craftsmen and engineers that have continually worked on this project”.
Maas: Solidarity must not be an empty phrase
Foreign Minister Maas also said he senses that Italians have a justified expectation that solidarity in the European Union must not be an empty phrase. This applies in particular to the common challenges that all member states are facing, such as youth unemployment, economic and financial issues and especially the question of migration.
At the same time, he emphasised that agreements made between the member states, such as the one regarding maritime rescue, must be adhered to, and that changes to such agreements must be agreed through consensus and via existing procedures.
Moavero: Italy stands by its commitments
Foreign Minister Moavero Milanesi emphasised that Italy will continue to honour the agreements with regard to accepting refugees who have been rescued at sea as part of the EU’s Operation Sophia, also by taking them in at Italian ports. Discussions relating to the fair distribution of refugees and migrants will be held as part of an orderly review of the current mechanisms. The competent European bodies will address this issue over the next few weeks. Both Ministers agreed that meeting this challenge is a task for all of Europe, and that, in future, the burden must be distributed more fairly.