French president Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday that France will welcome some of the refugees rescued by the Lifeline ship.
“I can confirm that France will be part of the few member states (of the European Union) that will take in some of the people who are on the Lifeline rescue ship when they will arrive at a European port. And the French national agency for the protection of refugees(OFPRA) is already on its way to Malta to accomplish this mission. (Maltese) Prime Minister (Joseph) Muscat will confirm how the operation will be unfold and what will follow. But we have implemented what we believe in, which is an active cooperation policy with an efficient solidarity. We talk about tens of individuals per country, which is a limited quantity but this is how we make European solidarity work”, Macron said.
Speaking at a news conference in Vatican City after his meeting with Pope Francis, Macron said that Europe won’t be able to welcome all economic refugees crossing the Mediterranean, but that those fleeing oppression will be protected.
I can confirm that France will be part of the few member states (of the European Union) that will take in some of the people who are on the Lifeline rescue ship when they will arrive at a European port.
“For those who fled their country because of religion or politics and because they were oppressed because of what they believed or thought, I want to tell them with great emphasis that Europe has principles and values and France has written them in its Constitution. We protect those people and will continue to do so. To those who fled their country not because of what they believed or thought but to listen to the sirens of a better future and try to get better because it is difficult in their country, I would tell them that Europe can take its part but won’t take more than that”, he added.
Earlier in the day, Macron met with Pope Francis to discuss Europe, migration and poverty.
The two talked for nearly an hour in the official papal library in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, about twice as long as Francis usually spends with heads of state or government.
As Macron left the library, he and Francis exchanged a two-cheek kiss, another very unusual gesture between a pope and a visiting head of state.