- - Sunday, April 24, 2011

ITALY

Italy eyes ‘technical control’ of Schengen accord

ROME | Italy does not want to renegotiate Europe’s Schengen visa-free accords but favors some “technical control” to determine whether they are adapted to current realities, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Sunday.

In an interview with the daily Il Sole 24 Ore two days before a Franco-Italian summit that will be dominated by a festering row over immigration, he said the Schengen accords “which are one of the two pillars of Europe along with the euro, cannot be questioned.”

“But the issue is to analyze how this instrument is adapted to our times and to a world which changes rapidly. In short, a technical control,” he added.

“Nobody and neither France wants to damage the treaty,” he said.

On Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to huddle with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome to defuse tension over the row sparked by Italy’s decision to accept thousands of Tunisians fleeing their country and to discuss the Libya conflict.

Paris has accused Rome of abusing the Schengen pact by issuing temporary residence permits and travel documents to migrants fleeing North Africa in the knowledge that many among the French-speaking Tunisians want to go to France.

France has close ties to former colony Tunisia, and many would-be migrants among the more than 20,000 Tunisians given papers by Italy have friends and relatives in French cities.

SPAIN

Photographer calls parents from Libya jail

MADRID | The parents of a Spanish photojournalist who was captured by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Sunday they had received a phone call from him in which he said he was well but in a Tripoli jail.

Manuel Varela de Seijas Brabo, who works under the name Manu Brabo, is one of four journalists seized by Col. Gadhafi’s forces on April 5 while reporting on the conflict from the outskirts of Brega.

The others are GlobalPost correspondent James Foley, freelance reporter Clare Morgana Gillis - both Americans - and South African photographer Anton Hammerl.

Mr. Brabo’s father, Manuel Varela, said in an interview broadcast by Spanish state broadcaster TVE on Sunday that his son told him he was in a military prison, was being fed and was “in fairly good shape.”

Mr. Brabo called his parents on Saturday and told his mother, Victoria Brabo, that he did not know when he would be released.

From wire dispatches and staff reports