Italy will build reception centers in Albania for migrants rescued by rescue teams in the Mediterranean, under an agreement signed this Monday by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, and her Albanian counterpart, Edi Rama.
“Albania is a friendly nation and, although it is not yet part of the European Union, it behaves as if it were a member country,” said Meloni after signing the pact in Rome, which fits with Italy’s continued support for the “enlargement of the European Union in the Western Balkans”.
The Italian Prime Minister explained that this agreement provides for the creation, in Albanian territory, of centers with a capacity for up to three thousand people which, once operational from the spring of 2024, will be able to receive an annual flow of 36 thousand people. .
These centers will carry out initial identification and control procedures and will also deal with asylum and repatriation applications.
“The objectives of the agreement are to combat human trafficking, prevent irregular flows and receive only those who truly have the right to international protection,” Meloni highlighted.
Although the country is a candidate for membership, it is not part of the European Union or the Schengen area, which means that it is not participating in the negotiations on the migration pact with Brussels.
The far-right leader defended the agreement with Albania.
“Collaboration between EU countries and countries outside the European space is decisive,” he stated, before explaining that the jurisdiction of these structures will be Italian and Albania will be in charge of external surveillance.
A position that Rama, the Albanian leader, subscribed to.
“If Italy calls, Albania will be there. Geography is now Italy’s curse. If you enter Italy, you enter Europe,” he said.
A total of 145,314 immigrants have arrived on Italian shores so far this year, well above the 88,095 who arrived in the same period in 2022 and the 54,733 in 2021, according to data updated by the Italian Ministry of the Interior on November 6 .
Subsequently, government sources cited by local media explained that Italy plans to open two centers in Albania to transfer migrants rescued by Italian authorities in the Mediterranean, while those rescued by non-governmental organization (NGO) ships will continue to arrive at Italian ports.
The measure also excludes migrants arriving on Italian shores on their own, who will be assisted there, as well as minors, pregnant women and vulnerable people who require immediate assistance.