ITALY’S Deputy Prime Minister has hit back at Emmanuel Macron as the diplomatic battle between the two countries rages on.
Luigi Di Maio has been a critic of the French President over the last few months and was pictured meeting with anti-government yellow vest protesters on Tuesday. As a consequence of meeting with the yellow vest protesters, France recalled its ambassador to Italy in what was an “unprecedented” move. In a statement that only added fuel to the fire, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux likened Mr Di Maio’s Five Star Movement party to a “nationalist leprosy” that is spreading across Europe.
“President Macron has repeatedly attacked the Italian government for political reasons in view of the European elections, which has never affected the feeling of friendship that binds our countries and will never affect it.
“Dialogue and collaboration with the French government is always present and we are available to have meetings with the French government to find solutions.”
Mr Griveaux’s comments echoed statements that Mr Macron had issued last summer which had instigated the clash between the two countries.
Since those comments, France has continued its assault on the Italian government and dismissed the idea that the French government had targeted Mr Di Maio main and fellow Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.
As Mr Griveaux added: “If they felt targeted, that’s their problem.
“We don’t make snide remarks.
“What is of interest to me is that people in Europe do better.
The current state of affairs represents a new low between the two European allies.
In a figurative olive branch, Mr Salvini has confirmed that he would be happy to hold talks with Mr Macron to settle the issue.
He said: “I don’t want to row with anyone, I’m prepared to go to Paris, even by foot, to discuss the many issues we have.
He also added that in order to “reset” relations between the two countries, France had to “address fundamental” issues.
The yellow vest movement in France originated as a protest against fuel tax hikes but since the, their demands have expanded to boosting people’s purchasing power and allowing popular referendums.