A view of the Farnese Palace which hosts the French embassy to Italy, in Rome, Feb 8, 2019. (ANDREW MEDICHINI / AP)
PARIS — A spokesperson of French Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the French ambassador to Italy, who was recalled back to France after the war of words between the two neighboring countries turned into a diplomatic clash, will remain at home for consultations and will resume his mission in Rome at proper moment.
Traditionally close allies, France and Italy saw their relations worsening after far-right League party and anti-establishment Five-Star movement came to power
"We are currently conducting consultations with our ambassador for which we have recalled him," said the spokesperson Agnes von der Muhll, adding "He will return to Rome when the time comes."
Last Thursday, France recalled its ambassador in Rome, the first withdrawal of a French envoy to Rome since World War II, after what it described as "repeated, unfounded attacks and outrageous statements ..." from Italian officials.
Traditionally close allies, France and Italy saw their relations worsening after far-right League party and anti-establishment Five-Star movement came to power and formed a coalition government in Italy last June.
Since then, they have traded accusations. In the latest verbal attack, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, tweeted last week "the winds of change has crossed the Alps," after he met with representatives of French anti-government "yellow vest" movement and candidates on its list for European Parliament elections in May.
Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement, had also accused France of "impoverishing" West Africa and generating mass immigration to Europe.
"If France did not have African colonies... it would be the 15th world economic power," he said in a recent interview.
His remarks prompted France to summon Italy's ambassador to Paris.
"Recalling an ambassador is a rare move between two friendly and allied countries, even more so in the European Union. ... I have never seen that between the two countries. I think it's a first in the history of the Fifth Republic," Alberto Toscano, a political scientist, told local broadcaster Europe1.
"I think the tensions between Paris and Rome may last until the European elections, because the Five-Star movement may be in difficulty if it backs down. It has electoral reasons, domestic political reasons to not give in before May 26," he said.
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