Italy, France look to mend ties with new treaty

Published November 27, 2021
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi shake hands during the press conference.—AFP
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi shake hands during the press conference.—AFP

ROME: France and Italy sought to move past recent tensions and signed a new treaty on Friday to formalise their relations, against the background of a European Union in flux.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi put pen to paper in a ceremony full of pomp at Rome’s Quirinale palace of President Sergio Mattarella.

An aerial acrobatics display by both countries’ air forces followed, trailing the colours of the Italian and French flags across a clear autumn sky over the capital.

Later, Macron held a private audience with Pope Francis, against the backdrop of a child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church in France. At a joint press conference, Draghi said the treaty represented a “historic moment” and evoked the close relations with France, from their “republican values” to economic and cultural ties.

The treaty has been signed weeks before Paris assumes the EU presidency in January

For his part, Macron said the treaty — only the second of its type with an EU partner, after a 1963 treaty with Germany — “seals a deep friendship”.

Italy and France have long been bound by historical, cultural and linguistic ties, their relationship deepened in recent decades by their memberships of both the EU and the Nato military alliance.

The treaty was signed just weeks before France takes over the rotating EU presidency in January, and at a time of change on the continent.

Britain’s messy exit and rows between the EU’s liberal democracies and their eastern neighbours have roiled the bloc, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who took a leading role in the EU, is bowing out following September elections.

Both Draghi and Macron emphasised their commitment to closer European integration, particularly in the realm of defence.

“As founding countries of the EU... we defend a more integrated, more democratic, more sovereign Europe,” the French president said.

Macron denied Paris was looking for a “substitution” for its relationship with Berlin that has anchored the EU for more than 60 years, insisting the new Italian treaty was complementary.

‘Difficult moments’

The wide-ranging new Quirinale Treaty foresees greater cooperation in economic and industrial matters, diplomacy and defence, culture, education and climate change among others, aided by regular attendance by ministers from one country to the other’s cabinet meetings.

Macron noted Italy and France had undergone “difficult moments”, not least the diplomatic crisis in early 2019 when Italy’s then-populist government openly criticised the French president.

Ties improved with a new government in Rome later that year and have gone from strength to strength with the arrival in office in February of Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief.

Draghi thanked Macron for handing over former members of the far-left Red Brigades group that terrorised Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Spy games
Updated 02 Oct, 2022

Spy games

The audios leaked so far appear to have been carefully curated: they apply pressure but do not do major damage.
‘Geopolitical football’
02 Oct, 2022

‘Geopolitical football’

THE US-China rivalry is by all measures one of the globe’s most dangerous competitions for power and influence. ...
Fuel price reduction
02 Oct, 2022

Fuel price reduction

ISHAQ Dar is back; so are his signature policies. The reduction of a little over 5pc in fuel prices announced by him...
Untruths and politics
Updated 01 Oct, 2022

Untruths and politics

It would arguably be in the national interest for the Supreme Court to take up the cipher and settle the matter.
Farmers’ protest
01 Oct, 2022

Farmers’ protest

SEVERAL hundred farmers have converged on Islamabad for the last three days to protest against the soaring costs of...
Dasht-i-Barchi bombing
01 Oct, 2022

Dasht-i-Barchi bombing

ON Friday morning, Kabul’s Dasht-i-Barchi neighbourhood was rocked by a terrorist attack targeting an educational...