Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Italy's far-right Salvini calls for populist 'European spring'

Jaroslaw Kaczynski at unveiling of new monument to his late brother Lech in Warsaw on 10 November Jaroslaw Kaczynski at unveiling of new monument to his late brother Lech in Warsaw on 10 November
Kenny Thornton | 12 January, 2019, 18:55

Mr Salvini, who leads the nationalist, anti-immigrant League party, pledged to create a "new European spring" and to work with Poland's ruling populists.

Italy's pugnacious deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, called for an alliance with populists in Poland and elsewhere during a visit to Warsaw, setting the stage for a showdown with the EU establishment at European Parliament elections in May. After a meeting with Poland's ruling party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Salvini expressed hopes that an "Italian-Polish axis" would replace the current "French-German axis".

However, Mr Salvini, who shut his country's ports to migrants last summer, provoked a government crisis by stating: "Whether it's eight or 88 migrants, I am not authorising anyone to enter Italy".

Malta has defended itself against claims made by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, inviting the Italian government to "revise its statistics and refrain from repeating unfounded claims".

"Kaczynski showed that he doesn't want to be a part of a euroskeptic alliance under the patronage of the Kremlin", Szuldrzynski wrote in Thursday's paper.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during the weekly government news conference in Budapest, Hungary, January 10, 2019.

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Both populist governments have been embroiled in conflicts with Brussels that have seen them strive for greater national sovereignty.

"We proposed a common programme to be offered to other parties and peoples in Europe founded on certain themes, like (economic) growth, security, the family, Europe's Christian roots that some have denied", Salvini said.

Kaczynski says Poland, the biggest beneficiary of European Union infrastructure funds, should remain a member of the bloc it joined in 2004 but wants reforms to bring more power back from Brussels to national capitals. "But that doesn't mean that he wants to build an alliance with forces that want Europe to move in a direction that from a geopolitical point of view would not be acceptable to Poland".

"We are preparing a new equilibrium and new energy in Europe and Poland and Italy, absolutely, will lead this new European spring", Salvini said in the Polish capital Warsaw, adding that "we have a new plan for Europe" meant to replace the dominant "French-German axis".

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media during an global press conference in the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.

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