Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

France recalls Italy ambassador amid diplomatic row over 'yellow vests' meeting

ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI  AFP  Getty Images Double Standard’ – Romania Criticises EU Silence on Police Treatment of Yellow Vests ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI AFP Getty Images4 Feb 2019
Jeannette Daniel | 08 February, 2019, 23:28

He has spent much of the past month touring France in a "great debate" with citizens to try to lift his own approval ratings and regain the initiative in the face of the protests.

Paris and Rome have been snarling at each other since a populist coalition took power in Italy previous year, with budget spending and immigration the main bones of contention. Matteo Salvini is the face of the new leadership's crackdown on migrants.

France warned him not to interfere in the country's politics.

The Yellow Vests are a thorn in his side and a controversy around his former bodyguard has resurfaced, threatening to arrest a pickup in his approval ratings.

In an open letter to the movement published on the M5S' official blog, Mr Di Maio said: "We know what animates your spirit and why you made a decision to take to the streets to make yourself heard".

Ansa is quoting a French Foreign Ministry press releases that said there had been "outrageous statements" by the Italian government.

Salvini calls Macron a "terrible President", saying he "talks a lot and achieves little".

France recalled its ambassador to Italy on Thursday, a remarkable diplomatic split between neighbors and European Union allies, after what it described as "repeated, baseless" attacks by Italian political leaders against France.

"To have disagreements is one thing; to exploit the relationship for electoral purposes is another", the Foreign Ministry's statement said.

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"The campaign for the European elections can not justify (such) lack of respect.All these acts create a serious situation, which put into question the intentions of the Italian government with respect to its relationship with France". And the Italian government last fall accused France of dumping underage migrants over the border without authorization.

Di Maio accused France last month of fuelling poverty in Africa, where it helps underpin a regional currency, suggesting it was a neo-colonial power.

Italy's two deputy prime ministers have goaded French President Emmanuel Macron on a host of inflammatory issues.

The insults of Macron do not affect me, they make me strong.

Di Maio's meeting with yellow vest activists came after Salvini called Macron "a awful president" in January.

On Wednesday, the ministry called Mr Di Maio's visit a "new provocation" that was "unacceptable between neighbouring countries and partners at the heart of the EU".

'Mr Di Maio, who has governmental responsibilities, should ensure that he does not impair with its repeated interferences our bilateral relations, in the interest of both France and Italy, ' the spokesman said.

Di Maio has labelled France a creator of poverty in Africa and met with leaders of the "yellow vest" anti-government movement, while Salvini accused it of doing nothing to bring peace to Libya.

"The wind of change has crossed the Alps", Di Maio tweeted at the time.

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