France’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned Italy’s
ambassador after Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio accused Paris of
creating poverty in Africa and fueling mass migration to Europe.
It’s not the first time the Italian authorities have made unacceptable
and aggressive comments,” a French diplomatic source said.
Speaking on Saturday in central Italy, Di Maio attacked France’s
Africa policy — the latest chapter in a war of words between Rome and
Paris since the anti-establishment 5-Star-Movement and far-right
League won power last year.
If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some
European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped
colonizing Africa,” said Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star.
“If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they
should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead
it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.”
Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was summoned on Monday afternoon by the
chief of staff of European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, the
French diplomatic source said.
Di Maio himself refused to back down in the row, telling reporters
late Monday that France was manipulating the economies of 14 African
countries that use the CFA franc — a colonial-era currency which is
underpinned by the French Treasury.
“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.
France argues that the CFA franc has brought welcome monetary
stability to the countries that use it, but French President Emmanuel
Macron said in 2017 that it was up to African governments to decide
what to do with the currency.
The new Italian government has frequently clashed with Paris, be it on
immigration or policy in Libya, eager to mark the difference between
itself and the previous center-left administration which had good ties
with the French authorities.
“I’ve stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of
immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes,” Di Maio said at
“The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are
impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to