Italy says Syria crisis to worsen refugee problem

Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept 2, 2013. Italy warned on Monday the European Union lacks an adequate approach for the refugee problem that will worsen in case of an international intervention in Syria. -
Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept 2, 2013. Italy warned on Monday the European Union lacks an adequate approach for the refugee problem that will worsen in case of an international intervention in Syria. -- PHOTO: AP

BLED, Slovenia (AFP) - Italy warned on Monday the European Union lacks an adequate approach for the refugee problem that will worsen in case of an international intervention in Syria.

"I do expect the Syrian crisis can lead to the worsening of the refugee problem," Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta told journalists after meeting his Slovenian counterpart Alenka Bratusek at the lake resort of Bled.

He added the European Union "still hasn't adopted an adequate approach that would be able to cope with this challenge".

"As always, Italy will do its share but there is a structural problem," Mr Letta added and announced in the second half of 2014, when Italy assumes the EU's rotation presidency, Rome would try to establish a common EU approach to the problem.

The conflicts in north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, in particular Egypt and Syria, have caused a surge in boat landings in Italy, the EU country first in line for asylum seekers.

The Italian interior ministry estimates that 3,000 Syrian migrants have arrived in Italy from the beginning of this year up until the end of August.

Asked about the determination of the United States and France to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime for alleged chemical weapons on Aug 21, Mr Letta said he understood their position.

But he added: "Italy will not participate in any intervention until the UN's Security Council confirms that use (of chemical weapons)."