French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will visit Rome on Thursday to hold talks with her Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani, with the aim of activating the détente between the two countries after differences over immigration.
Colonna will meet Italy’s foreign minister, deputy prime minister and second-in-command of the right-wing “Forza Italia” party, junior partner in the ultra-conservative coalition led by Giorgia Meloni.
Ahead of her visit, Colonna, who served as ambassador to Rome from 2014 to 2017, said France was “definitely” not facing a crisis with its Italian neighbour.
However, sharp reactions were issued on the peninsula to statements made by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who said on May 4 that Meloni was “incapable of solving the immigration problems on which she was elected.”
At that time, Tajani canceled a meeting that was scheduled with Colonna for the same day.
“It is true that there was a moment of hesitation and surprise about the statements,” Colonna admitted in an interview with France 2 this week. “We have since made our position clear,” she added.
For his part, Tajani said that he will discuss with his French counterpart “the issue of cooperation against illegal immigration as well as achieving stability in Africa,” stressing that these moves must be “joint and shared,” as quoted by the Italian news agency (ANSA).
Italy condemns its European partners for not participating in receiving migrants who arrive on its lands after crossing the Mediterranean.
According to figures published by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, about half of the 46,000 migrants who have arrived on the country’s shores since the beginning of the year came from French-speaking countries (Ivory Coast, Guinea, Tunisia and Burkina Faso).
During a Council of Europe summit in Reykjavík in mid-May, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that the EU must do more to help Italy manage these waves of migrant flows.
He said that “the Italian people, as a country where immigrants land, are exposed to very great migration pressures, and Italy cannot be left alone.”