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PM Orbán meets Matteo Salvini in Milan

August 30th, 2018

Commentators agree that the two leaders have challenged the European political élites on immigration, without however fully agreeing on how to tackle it.

At a press conference in Milan after his talks with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Mr Orbán said his partner’s effort to protect Italy’s coasts from illegal immigration could ‘save Europe’. He added that illegal immigrants should be sent back to their own countries. When asked whether he planned to leave the European People’s Party and join the ‘league of leagues’ envisaged by Mr Salvini (the leader of Italy’s League party), Mr Orbán said it was President Macron of France who was bent on tearing the People’s Party apart and forming what he called a ‘pro-immigration alliance’ within the European Parliament.

In Népszava, Tamás Rónay thinks Mr Orbán’s intention in meeting Mr Salvini was to warn the People’s Party that in case they decide to expel his party from the Christian democratic alliance,  he might join  those whom Rónay calls ‘the extremists’. The left-wing columnist finds it nevertheless difficult for the two leaders to make a common front, because of their diverging interests. Mr Salvini, in fact, urges European countries to take migrants from Italy, while Mr Orbán refuses to do so.

Magyar Idők’s Levente Sitkei agrees in describing the differences dividing the two leaders. As he puts it, ‘Rome is Rome and Budapest is Budapest’. Nevertheless, he continues, they agree on the main issue, namely that illegal immigration must be halted, and order should be restored in place of the chaos of the past few years. He acknowledges that the ‘young movements’ which represent a challenge to the old élites do not always propose the right solutions, but in Europe’s democracies it is up to the voting population to choose between the old and the new policies on offer.

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