January 10, 2019 / 10:12 AM / 7 months ago

Hungary PM hails anti-immigrant Italian-Polish effort

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends the weekly government news conference in Budapest, Hungary, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Europe’s anti-immigration forces could be strengthened by an Italian-Polish initiative to form a right-wing alliance for upcoming European Parliament elections, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday.

Orban, one of the European Union’s toughest opponents of mass immigration, said he would like to see anti-immigration parties gain a majority in the May elections.

Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, said during a visit to Warsaw on Wednesday that Italy and Poland should join forces in a euro-sceptic alliance to contest the European vote.

“The Polish-Italian or Warsaw-Rome alliance is one of the greatest developments that this year could have started with,” Orban told a news conference, describing Salvini as a “hero” for stopping migration at the shores of Italy.

“I am pinning great hopes on this.”

Orban said he was “fed up” with the fact that whenever the European People’s Party, to which his ruling Fidesz party also belongs, looks for allies, it looks to the left, parties he called pro-immigration.

“There should be a Rome-Warsaw axis, which is able to govern, is responsible and is against immigration and is willing to work together with the anti-immigration forces within the EPP,” Orban said.

Orban, however, pledged allegiance to the EPP, saying: “As long as we are there, and I hope this will be a long time, we will remain loyal to our party family.”

Hungary’s goal is to gain an anti-immigrant majority in the European Parliament, then in the executive European Commission, and later, as national elections change the continent’s political landscape, the European Council, where national leaders make the most important EU decisions, Orban said.

Reporting by Marton Dunai and Gergely Szakacs, editing by Larry King

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