Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani described the agreement to deliver five ships to Libya, funded by the European Union (EU), as the right option to address the immigration problem, according to Nova news agency.

The agency said that Tajani had indicated in a radio statement that "it is right to address the problem of migration according to a European strategy," pointing out that Italy needs to invest in Africa against climate change, terrorism, poverty and disease.

Tajani said that his country was in need for joint action at the European level to curb illegal immigration, whether on the Balkan route or the Mediterranean's.

The Italian FM's remarks come in response to European criticism of the gas agreement, which was signed last Saturday between Libyan National Oil Corporation and Italy's Eni during the visit of a high-level Italian delegation headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Meanwhile, European human rights lawyer, Giulia Tranchina, called in a report with Human Rights Watch on Italy and the EU to suspend the support to Libya's coastguards, and ensure any future assistance is conditional upon Libyan authorities’ tangible progress in relation to the respect of immigrants’ rights and their access to justice.

"Assisting Libya’s coast guard, knowing that it will facilitate the return of thousands of people to serious human rights violations, makes Italy and the European Union complicit in such crimes." The lawyer claimed.

She criticized the Italian government for continuing to provide significant support to Libyan authorities despite countless reports by international human rights organisations, and repeated recommendations to suspend assistance, including by the UN Secretary-General, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, and Italian civil society.

She also mentioned that on January 28, 2023, Italian Prime Minister Meloni visited Libya to sign a major gas deal with the country and declared that Italy will provide the Libyan Coast Guard with five fully equipped boats.