Italy FM slams Le Pen view on border controls

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Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was wrong to miss the Paris solidarity march on Sunday. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
10:53 CET+01:00
Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has criticized the suggestion made by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to suspend free movement between Europe’s borders, saying such a move would be an "enormous gift" to terrorists.

Gentiloni spoke out after Le Pen called for the Schengen agreement, which allows people to move freely across European borders, to be suspended following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

“Schengen is our freedom of movement. If we give up our freedom of movement and expression for a few dozen terrorists, we give them an enormous gift,” Gentiloni said on Sky TG24.

The foreign minister also criticized Le Pen for failing to attend Sunday’s march in solidarity with the Paris victims, which became the largest nationwide demonstration in French history.

“It was wrong of Le Pen to not go to the Paris march, I don’t think anyone prevented her [from attending].

“The participation of everyone today would be the most appropriate thing, I think that it was her choice not to participate,” Gentiloni said.

His resistance to restricting Schengen, one of the EU’s “fundamental rights”, was a view also voiced by Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

“The objective of Schengen is the freedom of movement between European countries. The agreement already foresees exceptions for cases which are noted as exceptional, as has already happened,” Alfano said.

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The main security objective is instead to protect the EU’s external borders, the interior minister said, who has called for governments to have greater access to flight passenger lists. Last week Alfano also announced plans to heighten internet surveillance to combat the radicalization of people within Italy.

READ MORE: Paris attack suspect known to Italy: Alfano

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