Italian foreign minister calls off Paris visit over ‘insults’ from France

Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, scrapped a trip to Paris on Thursday in reaction to “insulting” comments by the French interior minister against the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni.

In an interview with RMC radio, Gérald Darmanin said Meloni was “unable to solve the migration problems on which she was elected” and accused her of “lying” to voters that she would end the influx of people crossing the Mediterranean in search of refuge in Europe.

Tajani had been preparing to fly to Paris for a meeting with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, that was partly aimed at restoring good relations between the two countries when news of Darmanin’s comments reached him.

“I will not go to Paris for the expected meeting with Colonna,” he wrote on Twitter. “The insults towards the government and Italy uttered by minister Darmanin are unacceptable. This is not the spirit in which common European challenges should be addressed.”

Paris swiftly sought to reassure Tajani of its willingness to work with Rome “to face the common challenge represented by the rapid growth in migration flows”, but it was not enough to change his mind.