Italy vs France: Furious row erupts over ‘invasion’ of Mont Blanc – ‘Defend our borders!’
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Giorgia Meloni, leader of the conservative Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) party, has accused French mountaineers of invading its section of the iconic mountain range. Mont Blanc or White Mountain is the second-highest mountain in Europe after Mount Elbrus.
Located in the Alps, the vast mountain spans three countries along with French-Italian border and into Switzerland.
The mountain which stands at an astonishing 4,800 meters, has been at the centre of a raging battle between France and Italy for more than 150 years.
The ever-changing mountain landscape has most recently fallen a victim to climate change – which has contributed to the blurring of the lines of the location of the summit.
Ms Meloni has reignited the feud with France during a scathing attack on social media.
In a post of Twitter she wrote: “More than a year ago, Fratelli d’Italia denounced the unacceptable French invasion of the Monte Bianco, in the total indifference of the Italian government.
“France continues to violate our borders.
“We cannot tolerate yet another attack on Italy: we will do everything we can to defend Italian borders.”
France claims three of the principal peaks massif, Dôme du Goûter, Punta Helbronner and Mont Blanc itself are located within its territory.
Italy has drawn its borders in according with the Nato mapping convention which dates back to 1860.
The principle places the border between the two countries 300 meters above the Refugio Torino and in the middle of the glacier.
After more than 160 years the summit of Mont Blanc has edged closer to France.
Mont Blanc has become a key hotspot for tourists with the attraction a vital revenue stream for industries in France and Italy.
Foreign visitors often stay in the three townships that surround the mountain, including Courmayeur in Italy and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix in France.
There remains no official mountain border between France and Italy.
However, Laura and Giorgio Aliprandi, two leading Italian cartographers, concluded the summit of Mont Blanc is shared between France and Italy.
They agreed with French experts, Sylvain Jouty and Hubert Oudier, who in 1999 said: “The border must logically be on the summit”.
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In a newsletter of the Italian Alpine Club in 2015, Laura and Giorgio Aliprandi said: “Based on these considerations, we can conclude that the summit of Mont Blanc is joint Italian-French and should be marked as such on official French maps.
“It’s a position that deserves full support since, as we have seen, even in France it enjoys the full support of the most-enlightened minds.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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