We talked with Nicola de Felice, Rear admiral (ret.) of the Italian Navy. about the problems of migration, the political situation in Italy and relations in the European Union.
Rear Admiral, in recent years you have established yourself as a critic of mass migration. What led you to this?
In my role as Italian Defense Attaché in Tunisia in 2007 – 2010 and as Head of the Italian Navy in Sicily from 2015 to 2018, I had a direct experience of how things stand. I was also the organizer of the shore recovery of a boat of illegal immigrants that sank in Libyan waters on April 18, 2015 with 700 bodies on board. From that moment I decided to fight against criminals, human traffickers, smugglers and those who, like some NGOs, speculate on these poor wretches and increase deaths at sea.
Before retiring, you commanded the Navy in Sicily, can you tell us from experience what the migration situation is in this part of Europe?
The flow of illegal migrants from Tunisia and Algeria is mainly linked to the will of that people to come to Europe to find well-being and escape from a Country where there is no work and development, but a lot of corruption and disorganization. In addition, many criminals and misfits flee the Tunisian or Algerian courts to find refuge in Europe, continuing to live by committing crimes and misdemeanors, joining European criminal organizations dealing with drugs and prostitution. In this flow of illegals, terrorists and exalted jihadists also enter for attacks against European citizens. Many of these migrants come from Bangladesh – from a country certainly not in Africa – but transported by air to Libya or Tunisia thanks to the existence of an internationally structured criminal organizations.
Sub-Saharan illegal migrants then leave Libya thanks to the presence off the Libyan coast of NGO ships that act as pull factors. All of these illegals pay substantial “lace” to human traffickers, increasing the illegal arms and drug markets in Africa, around the world.
Mass migration is a big burden – financially, infrastructurally, socially. What is the current situation in Italy?
The financial and social commitment in Italy to manage the illegal migratory flow is quite onerous. In this period of 2021 alone, about 20,000 illegal immigrants arrived, three times the same period in 2020 and eight times the same period in 2019, when Salvini was in the government as Interior Minister.
But all this also implies the relaunch of the business of those who, in Italy, speculating on the hypocrisy of benevolent hospitality, exploit the moment by enriching themselves on the skin of Italian citizens.
Many Italians believe that the EU has let Italy down on migration. Do you agree with their opinion?
Sure. The hypocrisy of the EU member States is blatantly evident. Instead of thinking about organizing by defining a common front for this illegal invasion of migrants, on the one hand they make declarations of solidarity with Italy, on the other they refuse to actively tackle the problem, leaving it to the Italians and other countries on the frontline of southern Europe to deal alone with this dramatic phenomenon. There are solutions to stem the illegal flow that Europeans can find.
Do your officer colleagues mostly share your opinion on migration? What is the opinion of officers of other branches of the armed forces, carabinieri, financial guards?
The thinking of Italians is mostly similar to mine, so much so that political polls give the center right to 51%. It is above all the Italians who live in the suburbs of the big cities, in the sectors most in contact with the phenomenon of the presence of illegal immigrants, those Italians who still believe in a Europe of peoples, in Western traditions, in absolute values and that sense of right that history and Roman civilization has allowed us to feel close to each other, in solidarity with an idea of sovereignty, of identity that has always made Europe itself the cradle of civilization in the world.
An indictment was recently dropped against Carola Rackete, who attacked the Financial Guard boat in 2019 with her ship. What do you think of this move by the prosecution?
I think that unfortunately a part of the Italian judiciary is too blinded by the thought of the political left, so much so that it does not recognize the sacred value of the right of a coastal State to claim sovereignty in its own territorial waters, not to accept the maritime law ratified by the UN with the Law of the Sea, the work of the Italian military on a warship is not respected, so much so as to allow the ramming of the Guardia di Finanza patrol boat. The case of the magistrate Palamara, after the publication of the book he wrote (titled Il sistema), can open the eyes of many people. The actions of Mrs. Carola Rackete were all against international maritime law, against the Italian navigation code, against the decree laws on national security. Do you think that the Libyans would have had every right to pursue the Sea Watch 3 ship even in international waters, seize the boat, arrest the captain and the entire crew. The infractions of Mrs. Carola Rackete were such as to consider her a real pirate of the 21st century.
You are advocating the principle that countries whose flags are flown by NGO ships should accept migrants from aboard these ships instead of disembarking them in Italy. It seems that Italian government does not share this view, why?
When a ship has a flag of a State ashore, it is the legal system of that State that counts as that ship has evidently been registered in the register of navigation of that State and it decides to respect the rules, both administrative and criminal in case of crime on board. It is well known that a ship without a flag cannot sail, otherwise it would be considered pirate ship and prosecutable by every Navy. The flag therefore indicates the territory and sovereignty of that State on the decks of that ship. Now, the EU Dublin regulation (art.13) indicates that the EU Member State is responsible for the international protection of the first illegal passage of migrants on its territory. Norway for exemple, Flag State of NGO ships Ocean Viking and Geo Barents, although not part of the EU, has ratified the Dublin Treaty thinking it will pass the responsibilities on Italy and on the other Countries of the southern European frontline, but it is not the case. If the Italian Government does not follow this line of international law, there are only two answers: either it does not have the determination to do so, or it does not know international law. These days and with certain people in government, we can expect anything ..
What other measures would you take to stop migration in the Mediterranean?
For the Tunisian flow it is necessary that Europe confronts the Tunisian Government so that it is possible to carry out a mixed European-Tunisian patrol in Tunisian territorial waters and also on land to block the departures of the small boats bound for Lampedusa. A video-radar surveillance system must be installed on the Tunisian coasts and cooperation with the Tunisian National Garde must be strengthened, including with European experts present in sensitive points, nipping in the bud any attempt to bribe smugglers with the local police.
For Libya, it is first of all necessary to eliminate the attraction factor of NGO ships that act as a “mirror for the larks” as they say in Italy for the smugglers who send the boats of the paying illegal immigrants alongside the same ships. It is for this reason that Flag States must, if necessary, remove their flag from those NG ships, so that they can no longer operate. The UN with UNHCR and IOM must operate with greater effectiveness and presence by establishing repatriation centers in situ, ensuring bilateral agreements with the countries of origin for illegal immigrants in order to ensure repatriation and start a regular migration policy for those who really need it.
For the Balkan route, I hope for greater and more effective cooperation between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia as EU Member States, on the southern borders of Croatia or Slovenia in order to prevent any intrusion by illegal people.
In an interview with El Tempo, you said that migration is big business, that in the summer months alone, migrant smugglers earn around € 350 million at the expense of “fares”?
A migratory flow of at least 70,000 illegal immigrants from Libya alone is expected for the summer period of 2021. The June data confirm these predictions. If we consider that the Bengalis pay human traffickers up to 30,000 euros per person and the sub-Saharanians at least 4/6 thousand euros, it is easy to reckon. What the financiers of NGOs like the German Protestant Church and the extreme left-wing former communist party of the GDR, Die Linke, do not understand is that this money only enriches the merchants responsible for the many deaths at sea, becoming “unwittingly” accomplices of the subsequent investment in the drug and arms market in Africa.
Is it true that NGOs also work in cooperation with criminals and proffit at the expense of migrants?
There are several official investigations launched by the Italian justice on these hypotheses. In any case, the movements and the route of the NGO ships are constantly monitored on the Internet (vesselfinder.com) by human traffickers who know very well when to send the boats of paying illegal immigrants to the side of NGO ships a few miles from the african coast. So I believe that ethically we can say that they are responsible for these dramatic events, including deaths at sea
Opponents of migration are being attacked by globalist Kabbalah, its media, NGO-s… Have you experienced this too?
I received direct attacks on social media from several people who, poor things, are far from understanding the reality of the criminal phenomenon of illegal migration. It is the system of the European radical chic left and of the supporters of the globalist philosophy that is responsible for emenating the false and hypocritical thought of hospitality in Europe.
Cultural and ethnic multidimensionality can prove to be a potential factor of social growth, but the absence of development and economic expansion hardly allows for the absorption without trauma of large masses of immigrants with marked cultural differences, therefore the occurrence of phenomena of ” communities within communities “, more or less closed and isolated, within a community that only partially integrates them. In this sense, globalization does not have the effect of canceling differences, but rather of pulverizing them within the big cities. In essence, scenarios of profound social insecurity are emerging, in which citizens are by no means safe from the action of large and small crime. The social assistance measures considered today “normal and essential” risk being provided with great difficulty to a population increasingly in difficulty, by administrations lacking adequate economic and legal resources.
According to opinion polls, Italy has been moving politically to the right lately, is this shift due to the migration problem?
Italians follow common sense and respect the values of a Country with a great civilization behind it, a history and an identity perhaps among the most marked in Europe. If there is a phenomenon such as clandestine immigration, not linked to escapes from war zones, which attacks traditions, people’s identities, civilization, religion, the founding values of respect, sovereign right, good living in common , then it is natural to get out of the anonymity of the great mass and express one’s opinion also in politics. I am convinced that in the next Italian political elections of 2023 the right will win in a striking way. And then it will be desirable that other Nations such as Slovenia, can also reflect on this dramatic phenomenon of illegal immigration and fight together with Italy to direct the large international organizations such as the UN and the EU to work with common sense and stem the illegal migratory flow in Europe.
Do you think Italy will get a strong right-wing government after the next election?
Yes, for sure.
It is rumored that in the new right-wing government, you could take the post of Minister of Defense. If that happens, what would be your priorities?
I don’t know who spread this rumor, but it’s not true. What I can say is that I will certainly be available to give my contribution to minimize this phenomenon that is causing so much damage to Italy and Europe. It is not just a problem of the Defense or the Ministry of the Interior, but the entire government must define and agree on a strategy – which I call a direct strategy – that can put in place all the instruments of national (and international) power so that they are achieved the objectives set by the political authority. It won’t be easy, but we have to try.
Finally, can you tell us your vision for the future of Europe?
I would like to be optimistic about the future of my three sons. I dream a political and institutional union based on a Confederation born on a relationship between a group of European States which, having converging interests in the field of international activities and in defense, pursue common goals through a unitary activity carried out by confederal bodies. I dream of a European Confederation based on the union of international law between independent and sovereign States, respecting the traditions and identities of each European people, constituted and governed on the basis of the rules contained in the Confederation pact. I dream of a Confederation of States that constitutes a subject of international law only if the activity of the confederal bodies concerns international relations and is referable to the confederation as an entity distinct from the member States.
*This interview was originally published by Demokracija Magazine in the Republic of Slovenia. We are sharing this publication after permission was granted by its author. First publication of this interview can be found here.