France summons Italian ambassador to explain deputy PM’s ‘colonization’ remarks

France summons Italian ambassador to explain deputy PM’s ‘colonization’ remarks
Eyebrow-raising remarks from Italy’s deputy prime minister, in which he blamed France for the migrant crisis, have reportedly earned the country’s ambassador to France a summons to explain the comments.

On Sunday Luigi Di Maio, the deputy PM and leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, launched a scathing attack on France, which he accused of continuing to impoverish Africa with “colonialist” policies.

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“We would be hypocrites if we just continued to talk about the effects without looking for the causes. If today we have people coming from Africa it’s because some European countries like France never stopped colonizing Africa in their heads,” Di Maio said at a rally.

The remarks have not been well received in France with AFP citing a government source that the ambassador was summoned on Monday to explain the “unacceptable and groundless” comments.

The row is just the latest incident in the public spat between the two governments, who have a notably frosty relationship.

READ MORE: ‘Sweep your own door’: French minister bashes Italian politicians for Yellow Vest support

Last summer, French president Emmanuel Macron criticized the Italian government for refusing to pick up migrants who were stranded at sea, with his spokesman calling the policy “sickening” and “unacceptable.”  

Earlier this month Di Maio – and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini – voiced their support for the Yellow Vest protests which have plagued Macron’s government since November.

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