Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Friday again criticised France’s decision to invite Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to Paris earlier in the week, where she said other European
leaders were “missing”.
“Had I been invited to the Elysee Palace for the meeting with Zelensky, I would have advised (them) not to hold this meeting,” Meloni told journalists at a press conference following the EU summit in Brussels.
“Because when it comes to Ukraine, what interests us above everything else is to give a message of unity” within the European Union, said Meloni.
On Thursday, the Italian premier criticised as “inappropriate” French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to Zelensky to meet in Paris ahead of the EU summit in Brussels, which wrapped up Friday.
“In Paris, there were two European presidents, there were 25 missing,” said Meloni on Friday.
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Zelensky visited Britain and France on Wednesday and in Paris had a late dinner with Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Zelensky then headed with Macron to Brussels, where he greeted the European Parliament on Thursday.
Meloni and Zelensky were pictured shaking hands and embracing on Thursday as leaders gathered for the summit photo at the European Council meeting in Brussels.
It was the first time Meloni, who was sworn in as Italy’s first woman premier in October, and Zelensky have met face-to-face.
Meloni and Zelensky were set to have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit on Thursday, although Italian media reported that the bilaterals had been scrapped due to time contraints.
According to Italian media, Meloni did not appreciate being excluded.
Asked about Meloni’s comments, Macron declined to comment specifically, but told journalists that “I wanted to receive him, President Zelensky, with Chancellor Scholz” due to Germany and France’s “particular role” in the Ukraine situation, as partners in the Minsk accords.
He added that it was up to Zelensky himself to choose his schedule.
“What matters is that we are effective together and that we have a strategy that finds a way to a durable peace,” Macron said.
Meloni’s hard-right government clashed with Paris late last year over Rome’s refusal to take in a migrant charity rescue ship, which instead went to a French port.