Italian foreign minister cancels trip to France over spat on migration
Italy's foreign minister on Thursday canceled a trip to Paris after a member of the French government criticized Rome's management of the ongoing migration crisis, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.
French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin's "offenses to the (Italian) government and to Italy are unacceptable," Antonio Tajani said on Twitter, announcing that he would not be meeting with his counterpart Catherine Colonna on Wednesday.
"This isn't the spirit with which we should face common European challenges," Tajani said.
The move follows comments by Darmanin in an interview with French broadcaster TV RMC that Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her government were "incapable of solving the migration problem for which they have been elected."
Italy has faced increasing seaborne arrivals of migrants making their way across the Mediterranean Sea on boats from Tunisia and Libya.
Many of those migrants, after being rescued and brought to Italian soil either by authorities or boats run by charities, then try to move towards northern Europe, including France.
Darmanin said there was a flow of migrants towards southern France, in particular of unaccompanied minors, accusing Italy of being unable to manage the migration pressure.
The two countries have been at odds several times in the last months over the management of the migration crisis with reciprocal complaints of not managing properly the issue or not cooperating enough for its solution.
After the Italian foreign minister’s announcement, Colonna said she spoke on the phone with her colleague.
“I told him that the relationship between France and Italy is based on mutual respect, both between the two countries and between their officials. I hope to be able to welcome him in Paris soon,” she wrote on Twitter.
Her tweet echoed a statement published on the website of the French Foreign Ministry.
“It is also in a spirit of solidarity that the French government would like to work with Italy to tackle the common challenge posed by the spike in migration flows, from the Central Mediterranean in particular,” the statement read.
It added that the migration issue must be dealt with by all the European member states and that the bloc will succeed in solving the matter only through consultation and calm dialogue.