Rome and Paris attempt careful ‘rapprochement’
Italian and French foreign ministers on Thursday attempted a rapprochement between their countries following tensions over migration that almost led to a diplomatic crisis.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Forza Italia/EPP) received his French counterpart Catherine Colonna in Rome. Italian media reported that the two re-established a collaborative climate between the two countries after disputes erupted in recent weeks.
Colonna’s visit to the Italian capital comes after the soon-to-be foiled diplomatic crisis caused by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who in early May said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was “incapable of solving migration problems” in her country despite her election promises to set up a “naval blockade”.
Reacting to Darminin’s statement, Tajani cancelled a meeting with Colonna in Paris scheduled for 4 May.
“Sometimes we may have had different positions, but it is important to have a constructive dialogue between us to enhance the many common interests and develop indispensable joint action in the face of major international challenges, starting with migration”, Tajani said.
Colonna, who had already made efforts to reach an understanding with Italy after the controversy, confirmed her conciliatory stance with the Italian government and spoke of “confident exchanges” on several dossiers: Ukraine, Tunisia, migration, and European defence.
“Franco-Italian cooperation is essential for progress. Let’s move forward together!” Colonna tweeted.
The issue of migration is undoubtedly the hottest one for the two countries.
Migrants arriving on Italian shores travel up the peninsula to cross the border and arrive in France. An often-fruitless journey since the French-Italian border is heavily guarded by the French gendarmerie.
“Italy is the country most exposed to the growing migratory pressure in the Mediterranean”, Tajani noted, emphasising that it is “imperative to develop a modern and efficient European migration and asylum system that fully integrates the demands of Italy and the other Mediterranean frontline member states through a better balance between solidarity and fair sharing of responsibilities”.
According to official data from the interior ministry, 47,079 migrants landed in Italy from 1 January to 25 May this year. They were 18,108 in 2022 and 13,765 in 2021.
(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)