France accuses Italy of ‘unacceptable provocation’ after deputy PM meets yellow vest leaders

Luigi Di Maio says 'winds of change' have crossed the Alps

Thursday 07 February 2019 00:32 GMT
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Luigi Di Maio, leader of 5-Star Movement
Luigi Di Maio, leader of 5-Star Movement

France’s foreign ministry has said that Italy’s deputy prime minister meeting with leaders of the yellow vest movement is an “unacceptable provocation”.

Luigi Di Maio, who also leads the populist, anti-establishment 5-Star party, said he met yellow vests leader Christophe Chalencon and candidates on the grassroots movement's list for European Parliament elections in May.

The move was described by France's foreign ministry as undermining relations between the two European neighbours.

"This new provocation is not acceptable between neighbouring countries and partners in the European Union," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"Mr Di Maio, who holds government responsibilities, must take care not to undermine, through his repeated interferences, our bilateral relations, in the interest of both France and Italy."

After the meeting Mr Di Maio tweeted that "winds of change" had crossed the Alps and mentioned his intention to have another meeting in Rome.

"We have a lot of common positions and values, such as the defense of citizens, social rights, direct democracy and environment," a statement issued by 5-star said.

"There is enthusiasm, we will meet soon in Rome."

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The movement, who are referred to as the “gilets jaunes” in France, have been holding at times violent anti-government protests each week across the country for the past few months.

Mr Di Maio had previously publicly stated his admiration for the movement and has urged them not to “give up”.

Additional reporting from agencies

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