Immigration: Gérald Darmanin sets fire to Franco-Italian relations


The rag is burning again between France and Italy. On the most inflammable subject that…

Immigration: Gérald Darmanin sets fire to Franco-Italian relations

Immigration: Gérald Darmanin sets fire to Franco-Italian relations

The rag is burning again between France and Italy. On the most inflammable subject that is both in their bilateral relations and in the internal political debate: immigration. Giorgia Meloni “is unable to solve the migratory problems” of Italy, which is experiencing record arrivals by the Mediterranean, said Thursday the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, in the program “Les Grandes Gueules” on RMC. The Italian reaction was not long in coming. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani has canceled a trip scheduled for Thursday in Paris.

Non andrò a Parigi per il previsto incontro con @MinColonna .Le offese al governo ed all’Italia pronunciate del ministro @GDarmanin sono inaccettabili.Non è questo lo spirito con il quale si dovrebbero affrontare sfide europee comuni.

— Antonio Tajani (@Antonio_Tajani) May 4, 2023

France tries to spread the fire

The head of transalpine diplomacy estimated on Twitter that “the offenses of Minister Gérald Darmanin towards Italy are unacceptable. It is not with this spirit that we must face the common European challenges”. The Quai d’Orsay immediately sought to ease the tension. In a press release, he specifies that “the French government wishes to work with Italy to face the common challenge represented by the rapid increase in migratory flows”. Minister Catherine Colonna deplores the cancellation of her counterpart’s visit and hopes that it will be quickly rescheduled. The bilateral relationship is “based on mutual respect, between our two countries and between their leaders”, indicates French diplomacy in the form of an update.

A bilateral relationship under the sign of mistrust

The words of Gérald Darmanin are a boon for the nationalist government of Giorgia Meloni. It can easily blow on the embers of latent Francophobia in a large part of its public opinion and has no interest in placing them in the context in which they were pronounced. But beyond the cl***ic political manipulation, Gérald Darmanin has added fuel to the fire of Franco-Italian bilateral relations which are just waiting for a spark to ignite.

The migration issue has become a point of contention between the two neighbors. In November, they experienced an episode of tension when the government of Giorgia Meloni, who had just come to power, refused to allow the humanitarian ship of the NGO SOS Méditerranée to dock, who had ended up being welcomed by France, in Toulon . The episode had angered Paris, which had called a European meeting so that this unprecedented scenario did not happen again.

Last February, Giorgia Meloni had described as a “diplomatic blunder” the invitation to dinner at the Elysee Palace made by Emmanuel Macron to Volodymyr Zelensky and Chancellor Olaf Scholz without inviting her. The president of the council had castigated a “sprain of European unity” on the part of a leader with whom relations have always been strained. Efforts to bring things together had been undertaken with a view to an upcoming trip to Paris by Giorgia Meloni. They have just been ruined and the climate of mistrust persists. “This is further proof that the Franco-Italian relationship is an explosion engine,” confides a diplomat. He is currently on hiatus.

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