PARIS (Reuters) – A deal that allows Italy to build migrant reception and detention camps in Albania respects European Union rules, Italy’s foreign minister said on Thursday, dismissing suggestions they were an Italian Guantanamo Bay.

Announcing the deal on Monday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said as many as 36,000 migrants per year could pass through the Albanian camps, but hitting this target depends on how quickly Italy can process asylum applications.

Italian opposition parties have denounced Meloni’s plans as a deportation, with Riccardo Magi, a lawmaker with the centrist +Europa group, evoking the notorious Guantanamo Bay extrajudicial camps used by the U.S. in Cuba to detain Islamist terrorism suspects.

“It’s an accord that respects all the (EU) community and international rules,” Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told reporters when asked whether he feared Italy could be taken to the European Court of Human Rights or EU Court of Justice over the Albanian agreement.

“It’s not Guantanamo. It’s a normal humanitarian accord,” Tajani said.

Calling it a European solidarity solution, he stressed that Italy was not alone in looking at such ideas with Germany also seeking ways to reduce immigration and facilitate deportations for failed asylum seekers.

The German government agreed to look into whether asylum procedures could be carried out outside the European Union, though Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed scepticism on whether that was constitutionally possible and if countries would agree to it.

(Reporting by John Irish; additional reporting by Alvise Armellini; editing by Nick Macfie)

Brought to you by