Macron and Meloni put aside tension and vow to work together

The two countries need 'frank, ambitious and demanding dialogue' beyond the 'controversies and disagreements', French President says

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to the Elysee Palace in Paris. AFP
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French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met on Tuesday in Paris and vowed to work more closely together following talks aimed at patching up ties.

Since Ms Meloni won the election in 2022 at the head of Italy's most right-wing coalition since the Second World War, the two European neighbours have repeatedly clashed over immigration.

Ms Meloni told reporters on her first visit to see Mr Macron in Paris that “Italy and France are two allied nations, two important nations, central, protagonists in Europe which need to talk to each other at this time when our common interests are very aligned”.

“It's essential that Rome and Paris continue to work together at both the bilateral and multinational level,” she added.

Mr Macron called for the two allies to continue their “co-operation” on migration, which is a major domestic political concern for his and Ms Meloni's governments.

“Italy and France can continue to move forward usefully in the next weeks, months and years,” he added.

In November 2022, Ms Meloni refused to allow a humanitarian ship carrying 230 migrants to dock in Italy, leading it to head to France where the government denounced Rome's “unacceptable” decision.

Ms Meloni was also irked when Mr Macron invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, but not her, to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the eve of a European summit in February.

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Outspoken French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin sparked a fresh war of words in May when he said that Ms Meloni was “incapable of resolving the migration problems on the back of which she was elected”.

Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani cancelled a planned trip to Paris as a result and demanded an apology.

Ms Meloni and Mr Macron were also due to discuss aid for Ukraine and prepare for forthcoming EU and Nato summits this month and in July, according to a French presidential official.

Mr Macron said the two countries needed “frank, ambitious and demanding dialogue” beyond the “controversies and disagreements”.

Updated: June 20, 2023, 9:55 PM