ROME: Italy’s foreign minister has called for tough new measures to tackle illegal immigration and fight terrorism in the wake of deadly attacks in Vienna and Nice.
In a statement, Luigi Di Maio said the time had come to get a grip on the illegal influx of migrants following Monday’s terrorist attack in the Austrian capital, and he asked the EU to consider a US-style Patriot Act to boost anti-terrorism efforts.
Urging tighter controls on mosques in Italy and for action on irregular migration, the minister added that the EU and Italy must raise their security levels.
“We must increase attention on illegal migrant flows, as the Italian interior ministry is rightly doing. They represent a risk. Realism is needed. This problem must be solved.
“If a country does not have the resources to give assistance, it cannot receive (migrants), otherwise the outcome is an exacerbation of social marginalization. It’s bad for us and it’s bad for them. It’s the duty of every state to defend its borders,” he said.
Di Maio pointed out that now was the time “to start to think about something bigger and that concerns the whole of the EU: A Patriot Act on the American model, for example, because today we are all children of the same European people.”
Introduced in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US, the Patriot Act gave law enforcement agencies sweeping counter-terrorism powers, including relating to surveillance.
“The security of one state equals the security of all the others. I will also discuss this with my counterparts in the coming days. It is clear that in the face of all of the insurgency of more violence and terrorism, Europe, and Italy itself cannot continue with just words.
“We need a European front against terrorism. We need to make the common European databases work. We have them and we still do not use them enough. We need a European system to prevent attacks,” Di Maio told the Corriere della Sera daily newspaper.
Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese pointed to an upgrade in measures aimed at tackling potential attacks, including intensifying border checks and monitoring potential targets.
She also announced further talks on a plan to combat human trafficking and irregular migration with Tunisia.
The decision came after the alleged Nice attacker, Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian who killed a man and two women at a church in Nice, landed at the Sicilian island of Lampedusa at the end of September and travelled from there to France at the beginning of October.
Another Tunisian, Anis Amri, had arrived at Lampedusa as a minor in 2011 and went on to kill 12 people in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016.