An accord allowing Italy to fund and manage two migrant processing centres in Albania could be "a model" for "future cooperation between friendly countries", foreign minister Antonio Tajani said on Tuesday.
The deal signed in Rome by premier Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama on 6 November "is a possible model, not only for Italy but for future cooperation with friendly countries," Tajani told MPs on Tuesday.
The agreement with Albania is "a key component" of Italy's overall strategy to curb illegal immigration and "does not claim to be a panacea but an extra tool to manage the migrant influx," Tajani underlined.
Tajani claimed the accord - slammed by rights groups - is not comparable to the UK's failed plan to send migrants for processing in Rwanda, which last week was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.
"This is not the outsourcing to a non-European Union county of the management of asylum applications and there is no waiver of international human rights, which are expressly reaffirmed in the protocol," Tajani stated.
Albania, an EU candidate country, "will soon join" the bloc and is a member of the Council of Europe watchdog, making human rights "waivers" impossible for migrants held in the two planned centres, Tajani underlined.
Italy is hoping to open the two centres in Albania as early as next Spring and hopes they can process as many as 3,000 cases per month. "Vulnerable" people including pregnant women, children will not be held in the centres, according to Tajani and Meloni.