Orbán and Salvini: closed ranks on border fence

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has urged the EPP to work together with the European Alliance of People and Nations proposed by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Posing for photos on the border fence between Hungary and Serbia, the two politicians highlighted their common stance on migration policy. How significant is the meeting?

Open/close all quotes
La Repubblica (IT) /

Conservatives must be on their guard

The right-wing populists are using intimidation tactics, columnist Gad Lerner contends in La Repubblica:

“The barbed wire and the rescue vessels confiscated by the Italian interior minister are not just proof of the force the extremist leaders are using to attain the admiration and consent of the people, but are also ways of intimidating the moderate parties in the EU. Orbán has said the EPP would be committing suicide if it were to enter a new alliance with the socialists. He is glorifying Salvini to put the EPP under pressure to adopt the alternative course: collaboration with Europe's right. ... Although we tend to forget it, history has taught us that the far right swallows up the moderates whenever the latter succumb to the illusion that they can use the former and stop them in that way.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

The enemy within

The alliance between Orbán and Salvini poses a major threat to the EU, Der Tagesspiegel warns:

“Because unlike the British Brexiteers they don't want to take their countries out of the EU, but to undermine the Union from within. The problem with these joint appearances is that people are gradually getting used to them. And they increase the risk that these politicians' xenophobic politics, aimed at the supposedly excessive Brussels bureaucracy, will sooner or later become mainstream in the conservative EPP party family.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

How they push through their agenda

Salvini and Orbán want a new Europe. But nobody can really be sure what kind of Europe they envisage, the Tages-Anzeiger notes:

“For Salvini's 'nationalist international', an alliance of far-right parties, Orbán is a potential bridgehead to power. Despite being suspended, Orbán's Fidesz party still belongs to the conservative group in the European Parliament, the EPP. And if despite all their denials parts of the EPP don't rule out a coalition with the far right after the elections, this 'amicizia bellissima' could suddenly become a central element in the continent's political life. Salvini and Orbán don't have any joint visions for a new Europe. Nevertheless they are forcing their agenda on the old one: Europe must seal itself off - on land, on the sea, and in people's minds.”

444 (HU) /

The selfie king in his element

Matteo Salvini is an expert when it comes to PR, website 444 comments mockingly:

“During his visit to Hungary on Thursday he demonstrated just how he became the star of influencer politics. He managed to squeeze a veritable mini-action film out of his brief visit for his page on the social networks. No sooner had his plane landed than he and his Hungarian counterpart Sándor Pintér were sitting in a helicopter on their way to the southern border. There, Viktor Orbán was waiting for him to produce the most important documents of this visit: the photos of the two next to the fence, which will no doubt form the basis for masses of memes, campaign material, remixes and Youtube backgrounds. A symbol of the last defenders of Europe.”