Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

France recalls its ambassador to Italy over 'repeated, baseless verbal attacks'

France recalls its ambassador to Italy over 'repeated, baseless verbal attacks'

France's foreign ministry said Thursday it had recalled its ambassador to Rome for consultations after a series of "provocations" by leaders of Italy's populist government.

Di Maio had denounced the French government for protecting the elite and the privileged, saying "a new Europe is being born of the "yellow vests", of movements, of direct democracy". Italy's hostile interference in French affairs "has no precedent since the war", said the French foreign ministry.

Italy's populist leadership has also recently clashed with France on issues such as migration protests and culture.

"Today with Alessandro Di Battista [fellow M5S politician], we made a trip to France and we met the leader of the Yellow Vests Cristophe Chalençon and the candidates in the European elections... To have disagreements is one thing, to exploit the relationship for electoral purposes is another".

The at time violent "yellow vests" protests have been a political thorn in President Emmanuel Macron's side since November as support among the French electorate for his reform agenda has ebbed.

Di Maio accused Paris of creating poverty in Africa, while Salvini accused France of doing nothing to bring peace to Libya.

Italy has accused France of helping to cause the migrant crisis. France said the comment was an unacceptable "provocation".

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He said the aim was to prepare a common front for European Parliament elections in May, while boasting on Twitter that "the wind of change has crossed the Alps".

"Mr Di Maio, who has governmental responsibilities, should ensure that he does not impair with its repeated interferences our bilateral relations, in the interest of both France and Italy", the spokesman said.

The move came amid mounting tensions between the two European Union members after Italy's deputy prime minister met French yellow vest protesters.

In France, as in Italy, politics has become deaf to the needs of citizens who have been kept out of the most important decisions affecting the people.

Conte, a political unknown who became prime minister a year ago as a compromise between Salvini and Di Maio, was caught on video at last month's World Economic Forum in Davos discussing the dispute with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Di Maio, the head of a party that likewise began on social media and that grew into a real political faction, has been encouraging the yellow vests from the beginning.

Arguments between the two countries started last summer, when the French President warned that populism had started to spread "like leprosy".

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