Meloni, Macron Spar Over Zelenskiy’s Paris Dinner Invitation

(Bloomberg) -- An invitation for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to squeeze in a dinner at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris ahead of a European Union summit triggered a fresh spat between France and Italy.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called French President Emmanuel Macron’s move “inappropriate” in comments to reporters ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also took part in the dinner Wednesday evening.

Macron was quick to snap back shortly after Meloni’s remark, saying: “France and Germany have a special role in supporting Ukraine.” He added that it was up to Zelenskiy to choose the format he preferred.

The barbs ahead of a summit that Zelenskiy was due to attend highlighted the fragility of relations between the Italian and French leaders since Meloni succeeded Mario Draghi at the head of a right-wing government.

Italian media have reported that Meloni was not invited to the Paris dinner because of strained diplomatic relations with France.

In recent months, Meloni and Macron have quarreled over migration and struggled to set a date for an Italian state visit to Paris.

A spokesperson for Meloni had no immediate comment on the Italian media reports or on the dates issue. Macron’s press office said that there has been an open invitation for Meloni since October, but no specific date has been discussed yet.

The current dynamic is in sharp contrast with Macron’s amicable relationship with Draghi, a long time ally, who traveled to Kyiv with the French and German leaders in June.

However, Italian-French ties have not always been as friendly. In 2019, France recalled its ambassador after Italy’s then-Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio met in France with Yellow Vest protesters who were campaigning against Macron’s policies.

--With assistance from Jorge Valero.

(Updates with comment in seventh paragraph)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.