Salvini and Asselborn exchange blows

Italy's Interior Minister Salvini and Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Asselborn have engaged in a battle of words at a ministerial meeting in Vienna. The catalyst was the migration issue. To the delight of his supporters, Salvini posted the altercation on Facebook and Twitter - although it took place behind closed doors. Commentators voice understanding for Asselborn's frustration.

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Tageblatt (LU) /

Genteel diplomacy no good against racism

Tageblatt voices complete understanding for Asselborn's harsh words:

“The European zeitgeist now expects EU Commissioners (as well as the Commission president) to address those on the far right in the most laudable of tones. Not only are they being heard, they are being courted - and what's more they're treated as pro-European if they so much as abstain from demanding an exit referendum. ... Racism, fascism and neo-Nazism can't be countered with genteel diplomacy. This requires people who aren't afraid to say what they think. And seeing as no one else in Asselborn's circles was doing that on Friday, it's good that at least Luxembourg's foreign minister banged his fist on the table. Because those who remain silent on this issue are complicit - and therefore no less dangerous for our society than incendiaries like Salvini and [Austria's interior minister] Kickl.”

El País (ES) /

Too much even for a Luxembourger

El País editor and Italy expert Jorge Marirrodriga shows understanding for Asselborn's position:

“Few things are more difficult than making a Luxembourger angry. But the leader of Lega and current deputy prime minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, has succeeded with his polemics regarding immigration. ... His talk-show arguments have annoyed Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn, who pointed to Italy's migratory past and concluded by saying 'shit!', which in the Grand Duchy is tantamount to a declaration of war. ... One has to understand Salvini. He's the leader of a party that since its establishment has held the idea of Italy as a state in contempt. ... Now he has to be more Italian than anyone else. It's likely that when people call him 'little Mussolini' he's not annoyed by the little or the comparison with a fascist, but by the fact that the dictator was Italian.”