Hungary wants to form anti-immigration coalition with Italy and Poland in the European Union

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he hopes to build an anti-immigration coalition within the EU to challenge the strength of France and Germany. It was a reaction to the post-meeting press conference by Italian and Polish Interior Minister on 9 January 2019, where both sides discussed strengthening borders and improving conditions for migrants in their home countries.  

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini earlier said Italy and Poland could trigger a “European Spring” on the issue of migration. “We had very good and satisfactory talks. We agreed on the issue of border security and I received a lot of compliments from the Polish side on how we managed to limit illegal immigration,” he said after returning to the Italian embassy. Salvini travelled to Warsaw to meet with members of the ruling Law and Justice party for strategy discussions.

PM Orban hailed the partnership, adding that the new axis will beef up anti-immigration attempt in the EU.

“The Warsaw-Rome axis is one of the most wonderful developments of the year so far. I have high hopes for it,” he said in a press conference on 10 January 2019. “This is a topic that is radically transforming European politics, it is the defining political process in Europe. The party structures, traditionally left or right, are being taken over by a different dimension-those for migration and against immigration.”

PM Orban added that his ambition was to gain an anti-immigration majority in the European parliament, the European Commission and eventually the European Council. He has been one of the strongest hardliners on migration in Europe, frequently using rhetoric of Europe under threat from foreign invasion in his speeches.

However, members of Poland’s ruling populist party expressed reservations of an alliance. Former foreign minister 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.”

In 2015, over 390,000 migrants, many from the Middle East and Afghanistan, attempted to enter Hungary via Croatia and Serbia on their way to wealthier EU member countries in the north and west. To stem the flow, Budapest ordered a 500-kilometre long wall, covering a quarter of the country’s border. Hungary claimed that the fence has helped to cut the inflow of migrants by 99.7 per cent.

TMP – 20/01/2019