France allowed the Ocean Viking rescue ship that was carrying more than 200 migrants and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean to dock at their port of Toulon. This followed terse communications with Italy over the fate of the vessel.
Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said that the Italian government’s ban on the boat was “incomprehensible” and “selfish”. “In this context, France decided on an exceptional basis to make up for the Italian government’s unacceptable behavior and to invite the ship to come to the military port of Toulon,” Darmanin said at a news conference.
Of the 234 people on board, including 57 children, France agreed to accept a third, Germany another third and the rest are to be taken in by other European Union countries.
The situation caused France to say they will discard an agreement with Rome to take in more than 3,000 migrants and refugees who had come to Italy previously. France also says it will reinforce controls at its borders with its southeastern neighbor. “France very deeply regrets that Italy has decided not to behave like a responsible European state,” Darmanin said and added, “there will be extremely strong consequences” for France’s bilateral relationship with Italy over the issue.