The Franco-Italian row was prompted by a shift in Rome's foreign policy after the euroskeptics' win, Dr. Germano Dottori, a professor of strategic studies at Luiss University in Rome, opined, suggesting that Italy is emerging as Donald Trump's new favorite in Europe.
According to the academic, a new foreign strategy adopted by the Italian government led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte contradicts Paris's interests. He recalled that at a recent G7 summit, Conte made a symbolic gesture by endorsing Donald Trump's idea of re-admitting Russia into the G7.
"I agree with President [Trump]. Russia should be re-admitted into the G8. It is in the interests of everyone," Conte tweeted on June 8.
Second, such a "rethink of policy" by Italy prevented further rapprochement between French President Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, which changed the balance of power and paved the way for the creation of a Rome-Washington "axis," the academic explained.
Just met the new Prime Minister of Italy, @GiuseppeConteIT, a really great guy. He will be honored in Washington, at the @WhiteHouse, shortly. He will do a great job — the people of Italy got it right!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
"It should be noted that during his trip to Europe amid preparations for the Russian-American summit, which is due to take place on July 16, National Security Adviser John Bolton did not go to Paris, visiting Rome instead, where he met with the Prime Minister [Conte], Minister of Defense [Roberta Pinotti] and Minister of the Interior [Matteo Salvini]," Dottori highlighted.
Dottori underscored that the Elysee Palace seems to be aware of the potential consequences of Italy's maneuvers, which might spell an end to Macron's honeymoon with Washington, prompt a reassessment of Italy's role in the Mediterranean by the White House and probably lead to the US more actively supporting the country's economy.
Ahead of the EU summit, which took place on June 28-29, France and Italy exchanged tough messages over Rome's refusal to accept migrant rescue ships. Since the outset of the refugee crisis in 2015, Italian ports have served as an entry point for thousands of asylum seekers.
Although Macron has seemingly buried his differences with Conte on migration during the latest EU summit in Brussels, which paved the way for a preliminary compromise among the bloc's member states, he "went on and met secretly with Giuseppe Conte in Rome and paid an official visit to the Pope and the Community of St. Egidio," the academic noted.
However, according to the academic, Macron has not been satisfied by the results achieved with his "counteroffensive": "Paris tried to interpret the agreement reached in Brussels in its favor, but Conte rejected this vision, although the compromise did appear ambiguous and had many ambiguities."
Dottori suggested that the consequences of the French-Italian covert political struggle "could be felt" in Europe, Libya and Sahel. He did not rule out that Rome may try to penetrate into France's African "backyard" in order to contain the migration flow from the continent.
"This is a red line for Paris, therefore Macron's nervousness is quite understandable," the Italian academic remarked.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Germano Dottori are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.