France’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Italian ambassador Monday over sharp anti-French comments from an Italian official about Europe’s migrant crisis.
With Italy’s government on the defensive over recent deaths at sea of migrants, Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio sought to shift the blame onto France. Speaking Sunday, Di Maio said France is leading colonial-style policies in Africa that are “impoverishing” Africans and driving them to Europe’s shores.
A French diplomatic official said Italian Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was questioned Monday about the “unfriendly and baseless” comments. The official said they run counter to “Franco-Italian partnership” and the sense of “European community.” The diplomat wasn’t authorized to be publicly named.
De Maio’s populist 5-Star Movement is courting France’s yellow vest anti-government movement and has repeatedly criticized French President Emmanuel Macron. The two governments have notably clashed over migration.
Di Maio downplayed the tensions on Monday, telling journalists “I don’t think it’s a diplomatic case.” But he insisted that “it’s true, France is one of those countries” whose actions in Africa contribute to migrants leaving their homelands on dangerous journeys. Separately, the German government said that in a first, more asylum-seekers were transferred to other European Union countries than Germany took in last year.
PARIS (Daily Mail), 21 January 2019