France recalls Italy envoy after ‘outrageous’ verbal onslaught from Rome

France recalls Italy envoy after ‘outrageous’ verbal onslaught from Rome

Italian TV channel La 7 broadcast footage a week ago showing the two leaders talking at a bar, with Conte telling Merkel that Di Maio was intent on attacking France because he was down in the polls ahead of May's European elections and needed an enemy.

It said Italy's attacks were without precedent since the Second World War.

Di Maio announced Tuesday that he had met near Paris with yellow vest leader Christophe Chalencon and candidates on a "yellow vest" list for European Parliament elections in May, led by Ingrid Levavasseur. "They show a lack of respect between democratically and freely elected governments", France said.

The remarkable war of words between two founding members of the European Union began shortly after the Five Star Movement and Salvini's far-right League parties won Italian elections and formed a coalition government last June.

Italy's two deputy prime ministers have goaded French President Emmanuel Macron on a host of inflammatory issues. "Having disagreements is one thing, but using the relationship for electoral purposes is quite another".

Relations with Italy's new government got off to a bad start when Macron criticized the decision of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to block a humanitarian ship from unloading migrants at an Italian port, while refusing to allow the ship to dock in France. France said the comment was an unacceptable "provocation". He called on Paris to hand over left-wing militants wanted by Italy and to stop returning migrants.

The French foreign ministry said it was an "unacceptable provocation", and recalled Christian Masset back to Paris "for consultations". "Where the member states attack each other. This has not affected the feeling of friendship that ties our two countries and never will", he said.

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The verbal sparring has only intensified since, with Salvini calling Macron a "terrible president" last month in a Facebook video.

Why has this row broken out?

For France, the reason behind the spat is as clear as a bell.

"This is a big mistake of the vice prime minister Mr Di Maio to go to the Gilets Jaunes in France", Tajani remarked to Euronews' Foteini Doulgkeri in Athens.

What has that got to do with France?

Her remarks come after a series of meetings between Macron and opposition leaders on Wednesday.

France and Italy have failed to see eye-to-eye since Di Maio's 5* Movement entered government with Matteo Salvini's Lega Party in June previous year and at the heart of the tension is the ideological tension between Macron's globalism and the Italian governments commitment to a Europe of autonomous nation states.

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