Italy accuses France of 'interference' in territorial dispute over Mont Blanc

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Italy has lodged a formal complaint with France over new protection measures for Mont Blanc, which Rome says encroaches on its territory.

Mont Blanc, or Monte Bianco, Western Europe’s highest peak, forms a physical border between the neighbours, but no official boundary between the Italian and French parts was ever drawn.

On 1 October, the French Haute-Savoie region set up a natural protection zone on Mont Blanc around the areas of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Houches and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.

According to an information leaflet from the Syndicat Mixte Pays du Mont Blanc, the protected region consists of 14 communities in a forest that covers some 250 square kilometres.

Italian ire

Italian authorities were angered by the move, accusing France of "interference" by encroaching on a favourite holiday destination for Italian skiers and hikers.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio made a formal complaint to Quai d’Orsay, the French Foreign Ministry, via the Italian embassy in Paris.

“Such unilateral measures...which cannot and must not impact Italian territory...are not recognised by Italy,” Di Maio said.

The measures include bans on any type of vehicle and on taking pets to the area, as well as strict regulations aimed at protecting wildlife.