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    Emmanuel Macron

    'It's a Political Stunt' - Analyst on Macron Downplaying France's Row With Italy

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    Italy-France ties have deteriorated since M5S and the right-wing Lega party came to power in 2018, with migration becoming a contentious issue for the countries as Rome has refused to welcome undocumented migrants rescued at sea by non-governmental organisations.

    Sputnik: Discord between France and Italy has been growing in the last few months, with France eventually recalling its ambassador from Rome. So how could such a diplomatic rift between France and Italy be described as "not serious", as Macron claims?  

    Nikola Mirkovic: I think they are serious. Don't forget that we do have two opposing blocs here: on one side [French President Emmanuel] Macron, who used to be a Rothschild banker, who is presented and defended by the pro-EU, pro-NATO elites in France; and on the other side, we've got [Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi] Di Maio and [Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo] Salvini, who are coming from populist movements, who are anti-elite, anti-bankers, and of course they've got conflicting views on many subjects. I think it's important that they say that they want to discuss today, and they have always said that they're ready to discuss, but they're discussing really on matters where they are fundamentally opposed. This is why we've had so many tensions concerning migration, concerning Africa, concerning the future of Europe, which direction the European Union is supposed to take; and this is why we've got these tensions.

    Sputnik: President Macron said France and Italy must overcome their differences, because in the battle against nationalism “we need a strong Europe”. But is there more to his backtracking?

    Nikola Mirkovic: I think that now, just before the European elections, Macron is trying to calm down the situation: I think that he sees today (as a lot of pro-EU politicians see today) that there's going to be a surge in populist movements and anti-EU movements all across Europe. So that's why Macron is all of a sudden saying he wants to calm things down. He just wants to show that there aren't two different views on Europe, and he doesn't want to incarnate the pro-EU, pro-bankers, pro-Atlantic Council — everything that he does represent today. He wants to show himself as a major political player in Europe today.

    READ MORE: France-Italy Row: Contact Between the Two States Will Continue – Prof

    Don't forget that, when he was elected, many people thought that he was going to replace [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, and this is not the case. I think he wants to show that he's somebody who is capable of leading Europe and discussing with everybody; and that's why he's saying all of a sudden, "Well, let's discuss with our friends from Italy". It's just a political stunt, because they are two worlds apart; there's no way that they can meet on many subjects. That's why he's just trying to play this Mr President of Europe role right before the elections, because he needs a lot of votes and he needs to show that he's somebody who can cross the political divide to reunite Europeans — if that's possible. In any case that's his strategy.

    Sputnik: By playing down the diplomatic conflict between his country and Italy, it can be argued that Macron’s words do not exactly match reality. What does French public opinion think of the president’s claims?

    Nikola Mirkovic: He's a very good politician. And he knows exactly what to say — it depends on who he's talking to. He can have a right-wing conversation with somebody from the right-wing; he can have a centre conversation; he can go out in the streets and discuss with poor people, and say he understands what they're feeling; and the next day he'll be discussing with bankers on how to sell Aéroports de Paris — French airports, for example. So I think that people who are following what is really going on between France and Italy, they won't be fooled and they know exactly what's going on. But of course, he is a charming man, and he knows how to seduce quite well. So he probably has convinced some of people, but not those who really are into politics and who are following the European political scene right now.

    The views and opinions expressed by the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Macron, Matteo Salvini, Italy, France
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