President Traian Basescu called Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and expressed Romania’s willingness to host 200 Tunisian immigrants, according to a press release posted on the Italian government’s website, quoted by Mediafax. “During the phone conversation, the Romanian president, expressing his country’s closeness to Italy in what regards the crisis of massive migrant flows from North Africa, offered (…) to host 200 Tunisian immigrants, as a symbolic gesture of concrete solidarity,” the release says.
In response, Berlusconi voiced appreciation for the “symbolic gesture, but of great friendship and European solidarity, on behalf of the Romanian government and people.” Faced with a massive wave of Tunisian immigrants after the removal of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s rule, Italy repeatedly called for European support in facing the crisis. Earlier this month, the Italian Interior Ministry announced that it would grant temporary travel permits to Tunisian immigrants, a decision that caused tension within the EU, as France, Germany and Austria said they would not allow Tunisians access to their territory. Since the beginning of the year, at least 20,000 immigrants from Tunisia have reached Italy.