Rome has announced a six-month state of emergency as it grapples with a migration crisis
Rome has called for a “clearer” explanation after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said last week that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had been “lying” about her government’s capacity to handle mass migration.
“Clearer words are needed,” Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told RAI broadcaster on Sunday. “I hope that the French government changes its position and that an apology comes that represents a contrast to the position adopted by the interior minister.” He added that if such comments come, he would be “happy to accept them.”
The political fracas between the two EU nations was sparked by comments from Darmanin on Thursday, in which he told RMC Radio that Italy’s right-wing prime minister had proven to be “unable to solve the migration problems on which she was elected.”
Darmanin said he believed Meloni had been “lying” to voters when she campaigned for election last year on a platform which included a pledge to drastically reduce migration. Meloni – Italy’s first female prime minister – assumed office last October after a right-wing bloc led by her Brothers of Italy party won a solid majority in both houses of the country’s parliament.
Tajani, a member of the conservative Forza Italia party, canceled a scheduled diplomatic visit to Paris on short notice on Thursday in a gesture of protest against what he described as an “insult” to Italy.
French government spokesperson Olivier Veran attempted to extinguish the political firestorm on Friday, telling CNews that Darmanin’s comments had not been intended to provoke Rome. A day earlier, Paris also issued a statement in which it underlined its desire to work closely with Italy’s government on various issues, including migration.
In November, Darmanin warned of “extremely severe consequences” for France’s bilateral relations with Meloni’s government. His comments came after Paris suspended an agreement to take in 3,500 refugees that were in Italy at the time after Rome refused to permit a migrant rescue ship to disembark on its coastline.
Italy, however, maintains it has taken in its fair share of migrants. In April, Rome declared a six-month state of emergency following a rise in migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa. Italian Sea and Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci estimated last month that there has been a 300% rise in migrant flows into the country, which he described as an “absolute emergency.”