“I am hopeful that from today’s dialogue, we will be able to work even better and even more together. “After his meeting of almost an hour and forty with Emmanuel Macron, to put an end to seven months of tension, mutual annoyance, open crises, Giorgia Meloni showed his intention to bury the hatchet.
“Italy and France are two linked nations, two important, central nations, protagonists in Europe that need dialogue at a time like this because our common interests are very convergent”, supported head of the italian government, arrived in a blue Maserati at the Élysée. Emmanuel Macron called in return to continue “cooperation” with Italy on the migration issue, the biggest stumbling block between the transalpine enemy cousins in recent months.
And the Head of State to insist on the necessary “frank, ambitious, demanding dialogue” beyond “controversies, disagreements” of recent months. With on both sides the will to bring down the tension which “is more due to causes of internal politics than foreign”, confided Giorgia Meloni, and to show pragmatism.
Things had however started well between the two leaders… Emmanuel Macron being the first European leader to meet Giorgia Meloni in the wake of his appointment as President (she refuses the feminization of the title) of the Council – Prime Minister. But for her first visit to the Élysée since coming to power in Rome in October, this Tuesday, the Italian Prime Minister was not received for lunch as was the case for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) last Friday. Giorgia Meloni had a “simple” interview with Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of his visit to Paris to defend the candidacy of the Italian capital for the Universal Exhibition of 2030 (the institution has its headquarters in Paris). Candidacy which does not have the support of France, the Élysée preferring that of Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).
It must be said that between France and Italy, crises followed one another, mainly about immigration. From November, the Meloni government refused to accept the humanitarian ship “Ocean Viking” with 230 migrants on board, pushing France to let it dock in Toulon. The tension goes up again several notches when the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin compares Giorgia Meloni to Marine Le Pen, accusing her of being “incapable of managing the migratory problems on which she was elected”. This Tuesday, these files were obviously mentioned, but this time in order to show that cooperation was possible. Because the two countries have too many linked interests, for example a common policy vis-à-vis Tunisia, a land of departure for migration, to remain angry.
“We continue to experience tragedies in the Mediterranean”, noted Emmanuel Macron. “Coordination and good work between our two countries must continue”, he added, addressing his “dear Giorgia”, “we must be able to organize asylum and migrations in Europe while being faithful to our values”. But behind the smiles and the polite formulas, Meloni stuck to his guns, in no way opening the door to more flexibility in reception.
“We must not compare relations between leaders to kids who argue in the playground and then make peace,” reacted Giorgia Meloni at the Italian Emby in Paris, shortly after his meeting with Emanuel Macron. A way of looking at the points of agreement with France rather than the differences.