Italy’s new leader Giorgia Meloni has been in the news since winning the snap elections on 25 September 2022. She is the first-ever woman PM in Italy and also the most “far-right” leader since Benito Mussolini in 1922. Meloni will form a right-wing coalition government with Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi.
Her victory has generated a mixed response from the world, mostly sparking the ire of the left, liberals, and the media. Critics have expressed concerns and fears over her harsh nationalistic, religious, and conservative rhetoric. Many have labelled this election victory as “chaos”, which could be “dangerous” for what Europe has stood for.
Under the previous government led by Mario Draghi, Italy and France enjoyed a close friendship. However, after his snap resignation and Meloni’s ascension, France has been worried about that relationship. Many of her French critics have called her “fascist”, and reportedly President Emmanuel Macron has also passed inflammatory remarks against her and her party, Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy).
Giorgia Meloni Sends a Message to Emmanuel Macron
A video had been going viral on social media in which Meloni was responding to one of those criticisms by Macron. Speaking to the public, Meloni recalled Macron describing them as “disgusting, cynics, and irresponsible” and the Italian media wanting her opinion on it. So, she gave them a piece of her thoughts and explained to the audience how these 3 three words best fit with France’s own controversial history and colonial legacy.
Firstly, Giorgia Meloni talked about irresponsibility, where she criticized France, led by Nicolas Sarkozy at the time, for joining the US and the UK in the 2011 invasion of Libya. She accused France of not being happy with the oil deal between Italy and Libya while Muammar Gaddafi was in power. The agreement allowed Italy to send illegal Libyan immigrants back while getting oil at discounted rates.
France had its own oil deal with Libya but failed to pay its debts, which were recently paid to 3 Swiss companies supervised by the state of Libya. Moreover, Gaddafi was trying to create an African central bank with its own gold-backed currency independent of western influence. It was not acceptable to world powers, who hatched several plans to topple Gaddafi, including the US-backed colour revolution, to create an excuse for entering the country. France was one of the nations that invaded Libya and played a part in Gaddafi’s assassination.
His killing and subsequent installation of the US-backed government destroyed the relations between the 2 countries. Meloni is a strong opponent of illegal immigrants and holds France responsible for exacerbating this issue in Italy.
Secondly, Giorgia Meloni called out the French government for beings cynics themselves for closing off the border between Italy and France in Ventimiglia in 2017. Due to this, a number of migrants and refugees are stranded, living in rough conditions without access to even basic facilities. According to records, 90% of these migrants are irregular and only want to pass through the French territory and not stay. Both countries have failed to do enough for them. The city itself admitted that it was unable to pay such a huge cost. Charities and NGOs have been helping in the survival of these migrants.
The data showed that more than 6500 migrants have arrived from the Mediterranean Sea in Ventimiglia only this year. Half of them were able to land on thier own, while the other half had to be rescued from drowning. The majority of the arrivals were from Libya and Tunisia. On the other hand, more than 470 unaccompanied children arrived from Ukraine and 96 from Tuscany.
There are also reports of violence from the French authorities. If someone manages to cross the border, they face abuse and are sent back to Italy, which is a violation of EU and French’s own laws.
Thirdly and finally, Giorgia Meloni returned the phrase “disgusting” back to France for its questionable practices in Africa. She started by criticizing France’s involvement in producing African currency to keep charging minting fees. Around 40 African countries print thier money in Europe and North America. France controls 14 of them with the CFA (French Colonies of Africa) franc, created in the aftermath of World War II. It allowed France to continue exploiting African resources after the end of its colonialism in 1962. It farmed the continent for strategic resources and made money off of exports. The CFA system provided additional revenue for France as the African nations were required to deposit 100% (later 50%) of thier reserves in the French Treasury, creating an interest-bearing capital. Then, before the introduction of the euro in 1999, France devalued the CFA franc by 99.9% against its own franc, giving itself more purchasing power over Africans. The introduction of the CFA system, the hoarding of reserve deposits, and the devaluation of CFA today play a huge role in making France further rich through minting fees. At the same time, Africans keep losing money and resources.
Another disgusting French practice highlighted by Meloni is uranium mining in Niger. The sub-Saharan African nation has the 4th largest uranium reserve that helps light the Eiffel tower daily. Whereas the owners of this resource – the population of Niger, live without electricity, food, and health facilities. On United Nations Human Development Index in 2016, Niger ranked 187 out of 188 countries in the world. The country has severe health issues, including deformed babies, and the locals assume that evil spirits are causing these issues. Little did they know that these rich countries are the biggest evil spirits who have devoured almost every weak country in the world, and they are still hungry.
Meloni strictly refused to take any lessons from Macron because she considered France as one of the major reasons why Africans left thier continent in the first place. The video ended when Meloni suggested that moving Africans to Europe was not a solution but to liberate Africa from certain Europeans.