Italy remains split down the middle when it comes to whether or not to support Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido— the governing coalition is between the League Party and the Five Star Movement. While the League Party favours Guaido, the Five Star Movement has so far pushed back, preventing Italy from joining the majority of EU countries in recognising him.
And in the EU, Italy has been making waves on other fronts as well. France and Italy have been involved in a spat that saw France recall its ambassador, then send him back to Rome. The move came after Italian Deputy Prime Minister and MP for the Five Star Movement Luigi di Maio tweeted a picture of himself meeting with French Yellow Vest activists, partly captioned, "the winds of change have crossed the Alps." The French government was irate at what they saw as electioneering for the upcoming EU elections at the expense of French President Emmanuel Macron.
On Friday, Good Morning Europe spoke to Italian Five Star MP Manlio di Stefano.
With the majority of the EU supporting Juan Guaido, and the terrible conditions in which many Venezuelans live, how can you justify the 5 Star Movement's position?
"It's just the fact that we use a lot of realpolitick at the end. I mean, Guaido hasn't the control of the country. Maduro if we like it or not, and we never say that we like it, is controlling the forces. So what we need to do first of all is avoid civil war, it's to avoid a new Iraq, a new Libya, a new Afghanistan."
Do you agree with Maduro then when he says international support of Guaido could lead to a civil war?
"Maduro is part of this, so when he says [there could be a civil war] he says it with a lot of reality. We are looking at a situation where there is Maduro, Russia, China, and other countries together. And on the other side, we have a coalition of other countries willing to do whatever they can to assure their own goal. So in this situation, the first thing we have to do is calm down the situation. And we are doing this, to protect our Italians there. We have 150,000 Italians in Venezuela, so we need to think of the peace process first of all, the political process. And that's why we are so proud to have brought in Europe this contact group that is now dealing with Maduro and Guaido to go to new and democratic election. This is our goal. I mean it's the same goal that Guaido has, and the people that are asking for Maduro to withdraw are asking. The point is how you achieve this goal. We think that to stress this situation could create a very bad situation. So we want a political process, that's all at the end."
The French ambassador will be returning to Italy, it's been announced. Does this mean the spat between Italy and France is improving?
"France is a twin country for us, we've been working and cooperating for decades. So this is not a problem with France, this was a problem with the Macron policies, international policies, and the Macron government. I mean, this is what we can say. We are very happy the ambassador is coming back, plenty of things to work together on, but I think that as we ask to meet different parties in Europe to create a coalition for the next European election, nobody can say to us that we are not allowed to do it. And this was at the end the problem with Mr. Macron."
"We are trying to create a cooperation with the good part, not the violent part obviously of the Yellow Vests, and [Macron] was upset with that. And I think that the reality is we have been talking about Africa and French neo-colonialism, and this made them crazy, you know? So I think that if you want to save Europe, I think if you want to protect Europe, you need to talk without hypocrisy about the root causes of the issues that we have like migration. And when we talk about migration we have to talk about the neo-colonialism that France for example— it's having 14 ex-colonies. You know, these are things, these are factors of things. So if we want to have good policy, good European policy, you have to start with fighting these root causes."
Watch the interview with Manlio di Stefano in the video above