French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the Co-ordination Council of Armenian Organisations of France (CCAF) annual dinner in Paris, France February 5, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the Co-ordination Council of Armenian Organisations of France (CCAF) annual dinner in Paris, France February 5, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

France recalls Italy ambassador after worst verbal onslaught 'since the war'

Thu, Feb. 7, 2019
PARIS - 7 February 2019: France has recalled its ambassador in Rome on Thursday after what it described as baseless and repeated attacks from Italy's political leaders, whom it urged to return to a more friendly stance.

Italy's two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League and Luigi Di Maio of the populist, anti-establishment 5-Star movement, have in recent months goaded French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of issues.

"France has been, for several months, the target of repeated, baseless attacks and outrageous statements," its foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Having disagreements is one thing, but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another," it added, calling Italy's attacks without precedent since World War Two.

Di Maio has labelled France a creator of poverty in Africa and met with leaders of the "yellow vest" anti-government movement, while Salvini accused it of doing nothing to bring peace to Libya.

The two deputy premiers, who swept to power last year, appear to believe that attacking Macron, a fervent Europhile, would motivate their domestic voter base before EU elections in May.

"All of these actions are creating a serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government's intentions towards France," said the French ministry.

the Italian foreign ministry had no immediate comment about the French decision, which a diplomatic source said was unprecedented since 1945.
 
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