Last Monday, Italy's new-old Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won the confidence vote in the House of Representatives. The day before, the rescue vessel Ocean Viking of the Doctors Without Borders off Libyan coast had taken 50 migrants on board. On Tuesday, then, the vote of confidence in the Senate and on the same day took over the Ocean Viking another 34 refugees who had previously been rescued by the sailing ship Josefa .
Although a new alliance of five stars (M5S) and the Social Democratic Party Democratico (PD) is now ruling in Rome, the troubled Sea Rescuers are once again confronted with the well-known problem. At the request of the Ocean Viking for a safe haven in Italy or Malta, neither of the two states replied. Only Libya reported that Tripoli was available as a port.
The new coalition verbally refits - is it changing its policy?
Naturally, the rescuers did not want to know anything about sending the migrants back to the Libyan inferno. Now they are waiting, as the rescue ships have had to do again and again since June 2018, sometimes for weeks. At that time, the Lega boss Matteo Salvini had just taken over the Ministry of the Interior. He ordered Italy the policy of "closed ports".
Salvini is now in opposition - but does the new government break with its rude anti-immigrant policy? At least verbally showed Conte on Monday and Tuesday in the two chambers of Parliament endeavored. The strength of his government is not measured in the "arrogance of our words," he said, a "gentle language" will be heard in the future, "new humanism" should reign, in short: "We must show the human face of this republic." In refugee policy, he added, "we avoid concentrating on the slogans of open ports, closed ports".
This can certainly be understood as a departure from Salvini's crude language, which had, for example, reviled the German captain Carola Rackete as a "tick", as a "spoiled, rich communist", even as a "criminal". But the question that many in Italy, many in Europe are asking themselves, is that verbal disarmament also a reversal in the matter?
So far, the five stars have always kept to Salvini
Finally, in the summer of 2018, when Salvini, with his blockade policy against rescue ships, also began his own Coast Guard, Conte had said dryly that he "shared" the action of his Home Secretary. And finally, the five-star movement under Luigi Di Maio - until August, Lega's coalition partner, now in government with the PD - had never lent support to Salvini until the last day.
It was Di Maio who, in 2017, denigrated the private rescue vessels operating in the Mediterranean as "taxis of the sea". It was the M5S, which on 5 August 2019 - only three days before Salvini broke the government crisis - by a vote of confidence on the side of the Lega, the "Security Decree two" through Parliament, the fines of up to one million euros for the NGOs and threatened to immediately confiscate their vessels when they entered Italian territorial waters.