Salvini embraces friend Orbán, keeping chances of EPP deal alive

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini during their visit at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke. [EPA-EFE/Szecsodi]

All European parties, except those on the left and including the centre-right EPP, will be considered as allies to Italy’s right-wing Lega party in the upcoming EU elections, leader Matteo Salvini said in Hungary on Thursday (2 May).

His comments came as he sat down with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, in a bid to reinforce their political alliance and pursue their common European anti-migration agenda.

Salvini and Orbán launch anti-immigration manifesto ahead of EU elections

Hungary’s illiberal Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Italy’s hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini launched Tuesday (28 August) an anti-migration manifesto aiming at next year’s European parliament elections, targeting a common enemy.

“We can work together with friend Viktor after the vote on 26 May,” Salvini said after the meeting, adding that an alliance with the EPP would be expected should Orbán achieve success in upcoming elections.

Hungary’s PM blamed his political family for being unreceptive toward those right-wing parties pushing for the defence of European borders.

Orbán also told the press that his party Fidesz is openly seeking cooperation with the nationalist front lead by Salvini, no matter what actual form this alliance could take.

Fidesz is not left alone in this attempt to discard the alliance with the socialists and create a new one with the European populist right, as relevant Italian EPP affiliated party, Forza Italia, heads in the same direction.

Although Salvini is governing the country together with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, Lega is still bound to Berlusconi’s party at the local and regional level.

Together with far-right Fratelli d’Italia, recently accepted into the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), Lega and Forza Italia form Italy’s right coalition.


After meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Sándor Pintér in Budapest on Thursday, Salvini visited the 175-kilometre steel fence built at the borders with Serbia in 2015.

“I’m happy to have visited what some Italian media described as tragedy and ugliness, while it’s simply a way of controlling entry into Europe,” Salvini said about the anti-migrants wall.

Hungary claims it was forced to build border fence

Physical barriers are the only way Hungary can secure its borders, according to the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, and Budapest still maintains its opposition to refugee distribution quotas. EURACTIV Germany reports.

He added that Italy shares the same view as Hungary on the migration topic, adding that the goal for both countries is to use the trade leverage, reviewing bilateral financial agreements with third countries that do not facilitate returns of their nationals.

“We hope that the new Europe will rise up after May 26, will protect its borders by land, as Hungary does, and by sea, as Italy does,” Salvini said.

However, he wriggled out of criticising Hungary for the lack of willingness in resettling asylum seekers. Italy’s deputy Prime Minister said that the problem is not the redistribution of migrants already entered, but to stop new ones arriving.

EU Islamic caliphate

Another ally of Lega, Austria’s far-right leader and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, is expected to visit Orbán next week.

“I’m part of a political line-up stronger than ever, not right-wing but alternative to bureaucrats. I hope we can talk to the conservatives to leave the left out, who desire evil for Europe,” Salvini said.

He also warned against the risk of an “Islamic caliphate” ready to be established in the continent, calling for a gathering of anti-migration nationalist parties “to avert this sad ending for Europe.”

[Edited by Samuel Stolton]

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