A diplomatic row has erupted between two of the biggest countries in the European Union – France and Italy – after the Italian deputy prime minister, Luigi Maio, accused France of exploiting Africa and fueling migration to the EU.
On Monday the Italian ambassador to France, Teresa Castaldo, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Paris on Monday, following a comment made by Mr Maio.
During a weekend visit to central Italy, Mr Maio called on the EU to impose sanction on France for its policies in Africa, which he said was driving migrants from Africa across the Mediterranean into Europe.
France has “never stopped colonizing tens of African states,” he said.
Trouble between both countries started after France blasted Italy for not allowing rescue boat carrying stranded Migrants from the Mediterranean to dock. But Italy fired back accusing France of not accepting migrants.
The friction between both country’s escalated after right wing Italian interior minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, said France was harbouring terrorists who were wanted for murder in Italy.
“The EU should impose sanctions on France and all countries like France that impoverish Africa and make these people leave, because Africans should be in Africa, not at the bottom of the Mediterranean,” Mr Maio said at the weekend.
“If people are leaving today it’s because European countries, France above all, have never stopped colonising dozens of African countries.”
He added that if not for resources from Africa, France would not be among the top six economies in the world.
According to the BBC, French diplomatic sources described Mr Maio’s remarks “hostile and without cause given the partnership between France and Italy in the European Union”.
But Mr Maio remained recalcitrant.
On Monday, he said France was manipulating the economies of African countries that use the CFA franc.
“France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts,” he said.
“If Europe wants to be brave, it must have the courage to confront the issue of decolonisation in Africa.”