Rome blames Paris for migration from Africa

Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio has accused France of pursuing a "colonial policy" in Africa and blamed it for the "mass exodus" to Europe. Paris reacted by summoning the Italian ambassador. But this only prompted Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to mock Macron, saying that he talked a lot but achieved little.

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Jeune Afrique (FR) /

Nasty accusations for Macron

The news magazine Jeune Afrique describes how Di Maio's comments are being received in France:

“Luigi Di Maio's remarks are a source of double displeasure. Firstly, the colonial era is a taboo that Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly tried to address since the spring of 2017, when he called it a 'crime against humanity'. Secondly, the Italian deputy prime minister completed his historical and geopolitical sallies with an appeal to the European Union for sanctions against France 'and all countries which, like France, impoverish Africa'.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

France's Libya policy is to blame

Rome's accusations are not entirely unjustified but Di Maio used the wrong arguments, columnist Osvaldo Migotto writes in Corriere del Ticino:

“The Deputy Prime Minister Di Maio accused Paris of impoverishing Africa with its colonial policy and de Gaulle's introduction of the CFA franc in 14 African states after the war. The CFA franc, like the euro, is not flawless. But it seems rather simplistic to pin the entire blame for the migration crisis on the French. And even if the franc wasn't a good idea, Paris's military support when Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 was far worse. There was absolutely no attempt to plan for the 'post-dictatorship' period. The death of the Libyan leader was followed by a political chaos that continues to this day.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

The next crucial test after Brexit

The three leading EU states France, Germany and Italy are showing less and less solidarity with each other, Handelsblatt complains:

“Italy's strongman Salvini and his ally Di Maio attacked France so virulently that the government felt obliged to summon the Italian ambassador. And Italy started such a bitter dispute with Germany about the refugees coming across the Mediterranean that the German government felt compelled to end its participation in the EU rescue mission Operation Sophia. It would be fine if all this could be passed off as temporary election banter. But unfortunately the tensions are likely to continue after the European elections. ... After Britain, Italy looks like it could be the next state to put the EU to an existential test.”

La Stampa (IT) /

They know not what they do

Italy is manoeuvring itself into a dangerous isolation, columnist Marcello Sorgi warns in La Stampa:

“Quite apart from the fact that the accusations are superficial and imprecise, one gets the feeling that the Lega-Five Star coalition's campaign platform for the European elections is drifting from its original sovereignty-populism towards a brand of nationalism. ... One is tempted to say: 'they know not what they do'. ... They have no idea whatsoever what consequences the isolation they so adamantly seek can have for Italy. Even though they should, because they experienced it first hand [in the budget dispute with the EU].”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Battle between the two dominant ideologies

The French president has become a hate figure for the Italian government, the Tages-Anzeiger explains:

“Because in many points he embodies the very opposite mindset. Macron wants to strengthen Europe and introduce structural reforms in his country. He seeks constructive cooperation with Brussels and Berlin. Salvini and Di Maio, on the other hand, want to weaken Europe to the advantage of the nation states. They are distributing state money secured on credit among the voters and revoking the reforms of former governments. The French and Italian governments thus stand for the two major forces that are locked in a battle for the citizens' souls: the liberal European movement and the authoritarian nationalist one. And the two will clash in the European elections.”