One analysis claims that relations between France and Italy haven't been this bad since the 2006 World Cup final, when France's soccer captain Zinedine Zidane headbutted an opponent on Italy's team in the last minutes of the game. Most of the tension is related to the flood of refugees from Libya that are pouring into Italy. Almost 100,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean and reached Italy so far this year. The way it works now is that human traffickers launch rubber dinghies filled with dozens of refugees from the Libyan coast, charging each of the refugees thousands of dollars. The dinghies are flimsy, and usually have just enough fuel to leave Libyan waters. The human traffickers tell the refugees that once they're out of Libyan waters, they should call a specific phone number in Italy, and Italy will dispatch a boat to save them from the rubber dinghy. After saving the refugees from the rubber dinghies and collecting them, the government and NGO boats always then sail to an Italian port to deliver the refugees. Italy has been begging France and other countries to take some of the refugees and they've all taken refused, taking a kind of "screw you" attitude toward Italy. Bloomberg
Furthermore, there's an Italian border town of Ventimiglia where refugees go in the hope of crossing the border into France. those from Francophone countries like Mali and Chad often seek asylum and France. Others, like those from Eritrea, try to reach Britain.
In WW II Ventimiglia was the starting point for Jews escaping the Fascists to cross the mountains into France along the "Pass of Death." In WW II, if a Jew survived the hazardous trip along the Pass of Death and reached France, then he was safe. Today, if a refugee survives the trip along the Pass of Death, he's captured by the French border police and deported back to Italy.
All of these things infuriate the Italians, who believe that the French and other Europeans do not respect the Italians.... Guardian (London, 22-July) and Al Jazeera
# France bypasses Italy in a deal with Libya.
The latest insult occurred in the last couple of weeks, when Macron concluded a deal with Libya's two governments to set up "hot spots" in Libya where refugees can go rather than crossing the Mediterranean. Once again, Italy is furious, since they were not part of the deal. Libya was once an Italian colony, and Italian businesses and families still have many close connections in Libya. So for France to bypass Italy in Libya is just one more in a series of insults that Italy has had to deal with.... VOA and AP and Human Rights Watch