New tensions are breaking out this week between France and Italy after Italy’s deputy prime minister, Luigi di Maio, dished out some harsh words about France’s colonial history.
The argument kicked off when di Maio decided to blame France after a two separate shipwrecked boats of refugees resulted in the drowning of about 170 migrants off Libya. The deputy PM said the UN should impose sanctions on France and other countries with colonial histories, because, according to him, France would never have become the economic power that it is today without the exploitation of the African continent. “If people are leaving today it’s because European countries, France above all, have never stopped colonizing dozens of African countries,” di Maio said.
As a result, the Italian ambassador has been summoned to Paris to try and smooth over this row, which really isn’t anything new. Italy’s government has been clashing with France’s ever since the populist party took power; migration and refugees are the primary source of conflict. Italy has chosen to stop search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean and is resisting accepting any more refugees. France, who Italy accuses of refusing migrants and sending migrants back to Italy, has been critical of Italy for their stance.
As long as Europe’s migrant crisis isn’t going anywhere, it’s likely that this isn’t the last game of chest-puffing that France and Italy will play with each other.