France Recalls Italy Ambassador Over Yellow Vest Row

The BBC reports:

A diplomatic row between France and Italy has deepened, with France complaining of “unfounded attacks and outlandish claims” by Italian leaders. France recalled its ambassador to Italy for talks on Thursday, saying the situation was “unprecedented” since the end of World War Two.

It comes after Italian Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio met French “yellow-vest” protesters near Paris on Tuesday. France warned him not to interfere in the country’s politics.

Relations between the two countries – both founding members of the EU – have been tense since Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and right-wing League party formed a coalition government in June 2018. The two governments have clashed over a range of issues, including immigration.

The Guardian reports:

Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, the far-right Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio of the populist, anti-establishment Five Star Movement, have in recent months criticised the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on a host of inflammatory issues, from immigration to the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) anti-government demonstrations.

“We don’t want to row with anyone,” Salvini’s statement said. “We’re not interested in controversies. We are serious people and we are defending Italian interests.”

But, in a further dig at Macron, he said France must first address three “fundamental” issues: French police must stop pushing migrants back into Italy, end lengthy border checks blocking traffic and hand over around 15 Italian leftist militants who have taken refuge in France in recent decades.