Errors in the Open-Door Policy
"I would say that Angela Merkel certainly underestimated the risk of a social clash when she claimed that there was space for hundreds of thousands of people in Germany," Salvini said in an interview with German broadcaster DW.
On August 26, a 35-year-old German carpenter of Cuban descent was allegedly stabbed by an immigrant from Iraq and an immigrant from Syria, both in their early twenties, at a city festival in the Saxon city of Chemnitz. The killing sparked a three-day confrontation between thousands of activists from right and left, which left several people wounded.
Matteo Salvini also recalled the New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne in 2015, which saw mass sexual assaults and rapes reportedly committed by immigrants. Starting in 2015, Germany took in several million refugees as part of what Angela Merkel called an "open-door policy," prompting the European migration crisis.
Tackling the EU Migration Crisis
Salvini, whose right-wing government marked 100 days in office on Monday, didn't rule out agreeing with Merkel's June proposal to redistribute asylum seekers within the European Union via so-called anchor centers "in the near future." He went on to offer pumping €500 million ($580 million) to root out the causes of migration to Europe.
The minister also defended his ban on migrant rescue vessels from Italian ports. "It is clear that I had to stop the migrant landings," he said. "I am still willing to debate, but more recently, we've also been talking with some non-European Union countries, such as Albania, Serbia and Montenegro."
This June, Italy provoked a diplomatic row in Europe after it turned away the Aquarius, an NGO-operated vessel carrying migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. Italy closed its ports to the Aquarius refugees, saying that Malta was the closest and safest port to accommodate the vessel. After the Maltese authorities also denied entry to its ports, Spain let the Aquarius dock in its eastern port of Valencia.
An unprecedented influx of undocumented migrants from across the Mediterranean, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, has given rise to anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic sentiment in Europe. Italy was no exception, as one of the countries hit hardest by the wave of migrants and refugees.
Salvini is the leader of the country's right-wing League party, which formed a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in early June.