Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister: France is ‘Impoverishing Africa’

The Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Luigi Di Maio, has left little doubt on what he feels is the primary cause of African migrant crisis that Europe is faced with. Di Maio called upon the European Union to sanction countries such as France that the prime minister feels is manipulating the economies of 14 African countries which use the CFA franc, the currency underwritten by the French Treasury. But the latest EU gures also show that many African migrants to Europe arrive from former Italian colonies of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

France summoned the Italian ambassador in protest after her country’s deputy prime minister claimed French colonialism in Africa was fueling immigration.

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, sparked the latest war of words between the two countries by making the com- ments during a rally in the Abruzzo region.

He then refused to back down, telling reporters that French economic policy “contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts.”

As a result Italian ambassador Teresa Castaldo was summoned by chief of staff of Nathalie Loiseau, the French minister for European affairs.

French diplomatic officials described Mr Di Maio’s remarks as “hostile and without cause given the partnership between France and Italy in the European Union.”

One said: “It’s not the first time the Italian authorities have made unacceptable and aggressive comments.”

Since winning power last year, Italian leaders have openly supported the “gilet jaunes” protest movement and accused France of harbouring terrorists responsible for murders in Italy.

France meanhwile, has criticised Italy for closing its ports to refugees crossing the Mediterranean. Last week Italy faced further pressure after an estimated 170 refugees drowned.

Mr Di Maio criticised France again over the weekend when he told supporters: ”If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped colonising Africa.

“If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.”

He added: “I’ve stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes. The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to leave.”

After Ms Castaldo was summoned by Ms Loiseau, Mr Di Maio said: “I don’t think it’s a diplomatic case”. He claimed that France was manipulating the economies of 14 African nations using the CFA franc, a colonial-era currency which has a fixed exchange rate to the Euro. Those countries still using the CFA franc include Mali, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

“France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts,” he said.

In 2017 the French president Emmanuel Macron argued the currency brought stability but said it was up to the leaders of the African countries to make changes.

He was criticised for claiming “civilisational” problems and women having “seven or eight children” was hampering development in African nations.

The Independent

Posted by on Feb 25 2019. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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