Italian Prime Minister Meloni accuses French President of Improvising former French African Colonies
Carlos Testa Rivera
On January 19, 2019, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni came out on an Italian National News network, openly criticizing current French President Emmanuel Macron on his supposed role in the ongoing African refugee crisis. Prime Minister Meloni spoke out on how, since the 1940s, the French Government approved of a French exclusive currency, the CFA FRANC, that was made in agreement with its former African colonies such as Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. The Government in France has given these countries, and was put in place as part of a deal to push for development in former African colonies. This was in hopes to arrange trade for nations like Burkina Faso’s rich natural resources, gold and uranium for France to boost their economy and build up national infrastructure. However, with the continuous rise of many people immigrating to Europe, many governments like Italy, Poland, and Hungary have had their right-wing parties grow in popularity, as they push for policies that are seemingly more isolationist and harsher on immigration.
Prime Minister Meloni argued in her fiery interview that much of what has hampered many of these African states from progressing is less from their own government, but from French interference that has not allowed for these countries to fully utilize their resources for development. She had claimed that what France was doing was only a hypocrisy as France has been a strong voice in the European Council for increasing European aid to African states while engaging in just a new form of neo-colonialism. Prime Minister Meloni states that what France has done with nations like Burkina Faso is simply to monopolize on its natural resources with its use of their French currency, while still claiming that it has the liberty to conduct business with other states even though currency is tied to the French Central Bank. All this while, French President Emmanuel Macron claims to be the driving force in assisting humanitarian efforts in West Africa by pushing immigration and financial policy among EU nations. This currency, though connected to the Euro, is argued to be of lesser value. Even though the FRANC bill can be used and accepted in some European banks and financial institutions, many critics of the Macron government say that it still leaves these nations vulnerable to predatory activities by French policies. As the Prime Minister notes, “it is not the Africans that need to get out of Europe, but the French that need to leave Africa!”
As the United States it is important to recognize the strategic and economic importance of our alliance with France. However, as members of the United Nations, both nations have made formal agreements to help in the aid of third world countries that include building infrastructure and economic ties with developing countries to help increase the standard of living in these states. As it is important to recognize, much of the comments made in PM Meloni’s interview were political and were not fully factual. It is important that the United States sides with Italy, as what France is doing is disadvantageous to these nations. We are meant to help and slow down much needed progress in Africa.
The United States recognizes the importance for stability in this region and the need for more international cooperation in assisting this region. But, if the US stands ideally by and does not speak out against France's hypocrisy, this could reverse many first world countries' desire to give their assistance. It is important that the US engage more in the development of infrastructure through diplomatic dialogue that would lead to the potential expansion of NGO’s and trade negotiations to provide these countries much needed assistance to better the economics of these West African states. This would be beneficial for US foreign interest by developing ties that would cement our economic and even strategic influence in a region that has been contested by multiple major powers like Russia and China. Therefore, Washington’s best course of action would be to join these countries in calling out France for its ongoing monopoly and offer alternative ways in which we can offer economic assistance, that would better help states like Burkina Faso rather than keep them in an neo-colonial loop.
“Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni on CFA Franc. Straight. Fire.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Nov. 2022, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NBf1C4YMNw.
team, Reality Check. “Fact-Checking Giorgia Meloni’s Claim about France.” BBC News, BBC, 2 Jan. 2023, www.bbc.com/news/63708313.