Italy's Di Maio Meeting With 'Yellow Vests' is Provocation - French FM

ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI  AFP  Getty Images

ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI AFP Getty Images

Tensions between Paris and Rome have escalated since June when the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League party came to power in Italy in a coalition government.

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini is shown in a 2018 news conference in which he criticized France's migrant policy. He said he hoped French voters would send Macron a message during the European elections by showing their support for far-right leader Marine Le Pen, with whom Salvini is allied in European politics.

"Macron may no longer be our interlocutor (in the future)", Matteo Salvini said in an interview with Italian state-owned radio RAI.

Salvini says Macron is to blame for the protests.

And the Italian government last autumn accused France of dumping underage migrants over the border without authorisation.

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

Paris has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassador from Rome in the worst crisis between the two neighbouring countries since the second world war.

"For several months, France has been the subject of repeated accusations, unfounded attacks and outrageous declarations", Ms von der Muhll said.

'Having disagreements is one thing, but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another.

"All of these actions are creating a serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government's intentions towards France".




The diplomatic row has escalated since Italy's populist government took office previous year and launched a clampdown on Mediterranean migration.

Salvini accused France of exploiting the unrest in Libya to benefit oil company Total, which competes with Italy's ENI in the development of regional energy assets. France said the comment was an unacceptable "provocation".

The two countries have also clashed over government spending, after Italy fell foul of European Union budget rules.

The "yellow vest" general strike march in Paris, France, February 5, 2019.

The yellow vest movement is directly challenging the French government following weeks of street protests against what it sees as the unfair treatment of the rural working class.

"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.

"The winds of change have crossed the Alps", Di Maio wrote.

"I hope the French will be able to free themselves of a awful president", Salvini said in a Facebook video last month.

Levavasseur is a top yellow vest candidate for the May elections.

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