French Ambassador returned to Rome, concluding Franco-Italian dispute

The French ambassador to Italy successfully resumed duties on Friday. It had been eight days since he was initially withdrawn for deliberations by the French Foreign Ministry. The ambassador’s return to Rome signal a temporary cessation of hostilities between the two European neighbours.

The French ambassador’s recall climaxed the underlying diplomatic dispute, originated from conflicting interpretations of recent politico-economic developments in Europe and the near abroad. The French ministry considers the ambassador’s summoning as a type of electroshock therapy which facilitated rapprochement between the two quarrelling sides.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella personally escorted the French ambassador to his residence upon his return to Rome. The French ambassador handed over written correspondence to the Italian President by the French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron. President Macron’s correspondence invited the Italian colleague to visit Paris in due course.

Relations between Paris and Rome worsened since autumn 2018, with the Italian Deputy Prime Ministers Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini verbally accusing President Macron over a series of issues. The spat reached a tipping point when Deputy Prime Minister Di Maio made an abrupt visit in Paris where he met with members of the yellow vests movement.

Tensions are expected to resurge in the anticipation of May 2019 European elections. The two contenders, President Macron and Deputy Prime Minister Salvini have chosen opposite camps. The French head represents the most progressive and pro-integration movements in Europe while the Italy minister leans more towards the Eurosceptic side of the spectrum, favouring instead restoration of national sovereignty.

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