Monday, 21 January, 2019

Poles signal caution over alliance with Italy’s Salvini

FILE According to the International Organization for Migration at least 4,592 migrants reportedly died or disappeared during migratory routes across the globe down 20% from 2017 and over 8,000 in 2016 Salvini says populists could spark 'European Spring' as he meets Polish ruling party leader
Deanna Wagner | 11 January, 2019, 18:39

Salvini's meeting later with Polish ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is being watched as an early sign of whether the Italian firebrand can effectively mount a nationalist challenge at the European level.

"(We take) no lessons from Malta, which for years closed its eyes and let small and big (migrant) boats head towards Italy", League party leader Salvini said via Twitter.

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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".

However, Polish skepticism of Salvini's friendly approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin could be an impediment to collaboration.

Lawmaker Witold Waszczykowski said "the only arrangements that have been made concern further meetings and further consultations, but there are no arrangements for a deal, a creation of alliances or common clubs in the European Parliament".

"We are preparing a new equilibrium and new energy in Europe and Poland and Italy, absolutely, will lead this new European spring", said Salvini.

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The eurosceptic governments in Rome and Warsaw are both keen to repatriate some European Union powers from Brussels to national capitals and hope like-minded parties will do well in the May elections, which will follow Britain's planned exit from the bloc in March.

The vote could see nationalist and far-right parties across Europe upset the bloc's balance of power now dominated by the centre-right.

"The goal is that with the next European elections to the European Parliament the Sovranisti [the "sovereigntists"] will be the number one political movement and become a fundamental part of the next Parliament".

European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is ready to talk to Italy about the reallocation of migrants, the Commission said on Thursday.

PiS has echoed the League's calls for Brussels to interfere less in the affairs of EU member states, though the parties are not now allied in the European Parliament.

"In Europe, one has always spoken about a French-German axis".

They are shaping up into a battle between leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron who seek greater integration, and populist euroskeptics like Salvini and Orban. "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".