BONN–Jan 2 (Reuters) – Germany on Friday called on Italy to tighten its border controls after a ship carrying hundreds of immigran’s was intercepted off the Italian coast.
Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said Germany had to make sure its own frontiers were secure and had to demand the same level of border security from its European Union partners.
“This appeal is particularly directed at our Italian friends because it’s them and the Greeks whom the smugglers reach first,” Kanther told German Radio.
Germany and Italy are both signatories of the European Union’s Schengen agreement–which allows free movement between countries without border checks. Italy only became a member of the Schengen group last October.
Kanther said countries on the edge of the Schengen zone had a particular responsibility to catch illegal immigran’s on entry as they could move freely into other countries if they were not apprehended.
“The Schengen agreement must be upheld and for that reason the Italians must step up their efforts a great deal,” he said.
Italian coastguards on Thursday intercepted a ship two miles off the country’s southeastern coast carrying 386 people including Kurds from Turkey–Iraq and Iran–Pakistanis–Sri Lankans–Kenyans–Bangladeshis–Algerians and one person from Azerbaijan.
The latest in a recent tide of immigran’s came one day after President Scalfaro said Italy’s arms were “wide open” to immigran’s seeking asylum.
It was the second arrival within a week after 825 immigran’s–mostly from Turkey and Iraq–had to be plucked from a vessel that ran aground off southern Italy on Saturday.
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