Saying the French interior minister had insulted Italy with comments that were highly critical of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called off a trip to Paris on Thursday.
The French minister, Gerald Darmanin, had earlier told RMCradio that Meloni was “unable to solve the migration problems on which she was elected” and accused her of “lying” to voters that she could end the crisis.
News of his comments came as Tajani was preparing to fly to Paris to see his French counterpart – a trip that was aimed partly at improving relations between the two European Union countries that have grown increasingly fractious.
France swiftly issued a statement in which it sought to reassure Rome of its willingness to work closely with Italy, but it was not enough to persuade Tajani to catch his plane.
“The insults to the government and Italy uttered by the minister @GDarmanin are unacceptable. This is not the spirit in which common European challenges should be addressed,” Tajani wrote on Twitter.
Italy has seen a surge in migrant arrivals since Meloni took office late last year. More than 42,400 people have landed in Italy so far in 2023, against around 11,220 in the same period last year.