Italian gripe on migration

Athens yesterday rejected complaints by an Italian government official that Greece is doing nothing to stop the flow of illegal immigrants to Italy. In statements published in the Italian press, Deputy Interior Minister Alfredo Mantovano said the European Union «should implement against Greece the same drastic measures it took against Austria when [extreme right-winger Joerg] Haider entered the government.» Mantovano was speaking in the wake of Sunday’s discovery in the Ionian of a Greek boat carrying illegal immigrants to Italy. At least six of the Iraqi Kurds had died of exposure, while the Greek helmsman, Panayiotis Liolios, 28, was arrested. «This tragedy could have been avoided had Greece… undertaken its responsibilities,» Mantovano said. «It is truly absurd that an EU partner is taking no specific measures to stop [migrant] departures.» But Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Athens and Rome were closely cooperating on the matter. «It surprises me that [Mantovano] is not aware of that,» he said.

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