From Caen, in the heart of ancient French Normandy, to the highest hill in Rome, the pass is six years long. History, from the most famous landing beaches to the Roman San Pietrini, is a pavement marked by wars and peace, agreements and treaties, business and borders. A lot of water has passed along the Channel since, on 21 March 2015 in Caen, an Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, who later became prime minister and European commissioner, signed a treaty as secret as it was repudiated in absolute silence. In the French town, 200 km from Paris, chosen for discretion, the two foreign ministers, Italian and French, signed the one that has gone down in history as the Treaty of Caen. The recent key to the problem in the relations between Napoleon's heirs and those of the House of Savoy is all here.
The Caen coup
The signatories of Caen were, however, certainly aware that those autographs at the bottom of those two pages, after years of frost and tension, should have opened a new front in relations between the Elysée and the Quirinale. However, Paolo Gentiloni had done well to sign that agreement away from the spotlight of Paris and Rome. He, the nobleman of Italian politics, had tried in every way to re-establish relations beyond the Alps, considering that the Italo-French thread is fundamental to oppose the Franco-German axis. It didn't suit him. No one, once they returned to Italy, much less Gentiloni, Renzi's successor at Palazzo Chigi shortly thereafter, had the courage to propose that agreement to the Chambers, to be ratified with an obligatory passage, except for its total ineffectiveness. Nobody felt upset, not even the general secretary of the Farnesina who should have sent that text to Montecitorio and Palazzo Madama so that they could transform it into ratification. In reality, that text was so impractical that it remained forever in the archives of the Italian foreign office. It was known of its existence only when a fishing boat from Golfo Aranci, captained by commander Pietro Langiu, was not badly intercepted by the French gendarmes on duty along the sea border. In reality, those peremptory tones with which the military broke into international waters were so clumsy as to provoke a real revolt of Sardinian fishermen who blocked the Strait of Bonifacio in protest.
The gendarmes of the sea
In reality, the Paris patrol boats were doing nothing other than applying the new boundaries of the misunderstood Caen agreement to the letter. Too bad, however, that only they knew. Too bad, in fact, that they and the leaders of the Elysée were unaware that Italy had never ratified that treaty, in short, waste paper or so.
Calvados & Vermentino
After all, the French could never have thought that an agreement signed with great fanfare in the land of Calvados could remain a dead letter in the land of Vermentino. Instead, it did. In the Caen agreement it had been decided to change the sea boundaries, effectively yielding to France massive portions of water mirrors, east and west, of northern Sardinia, up to then international waters, over 12 miles, where Sardinian fishermen, as well as French ones, could operate without any prohibition. The title of the Treaty of Caen was explicit: "Agreement between the Government of the Italian Republic and the Government of the French Republic concerning the delimitation of territorial seas and areas under national jurisdiction between Italy and France".
Borders sold off
And that it was a modification of the sea boundaries was explicit in article one: "The demarcation line is defined by the lines that connect the following points." There is a fact that Gentiloni did not know exactly what he was signing, in reality, however, Sardinian and Ligurian fishermen knew it well, very well, given that those stretches of sea "ideally" ceded to the French were nothing but the heart button of fine fishing. Nothing came of it. That agreement never crossed the Tiber and remained hidden in the secret rooms of the Farnesina, apparently forgotten. Last night, however, six years after the parade in Caen, none other than Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, landed in Rome. Mission sold as historical: to make relations between Italy and France shine.
The announcements are the usual ones that multiply every time a foreign Head of State crosses the borders of Campo Marzio and the Monti district. An encounter that rewrites history, the narrators of the Palazzo's stories rejoice. In reality, Macron & Draghi meet after a negotiation that, according to the Italian-French diplomats, lasted just six years, from the signing of the Caen agreement to today. In Normandy, in fact, Gentiloni and his counterpart, in 2015, not only signed the agreement to change the sea boundaries between Sardinia and Corsica, but also set up a series of state affairs, from arms to industry, all functional. to the "strengthening" of the relationship between the two states. Last night in the heart of the capital a good dose of ceremonial and salamelecchi, this morning, however, we return to the highest hill to sign what is already written in the annals as the "Treaty of the Quirinal". Sergio Mattarella, tenant of the most important building for a few more months, hosts the signature at the bottom of Macron and Draghi. However, no one knows anything about the contents of those sheets written with the effigies of the State. In Parliament there are some protests, some silent, some noisy, to challenge the secrecy of an armored agreement like few others, almost like that of Caen.
The French drafts
The only drafts on the content are from French sources and tell only the chapters of the Treaty: "The convergence of French and Italian positions, as well as the coordination between the two countries for European and foreign policy, for security and defense, for migration and economic policy, but also for the sectors of education, research, culture and cross-border cooperation ". It is the secrecy of the agreement that keeps the red light on that never ratified Caen treaty. Now, however, conditions have changed: in fact there is no opposition to the Draghi government capable of subverting an agreement signed with such pomp. If the home Sherpas and the French ones in the chapter of "cross-border" cooperation have included the Caen snatching again, there will be little to do. The affairs of arms, telecommunications, shipyards will well be worth the sacrifice of the borders on the sea of Sardinia. After Caen, today he signs at the Quirinale.