Thursday

7th Jul 2022

Salvini invokes God and Russia on Poland trip

  • Jaroslaw Kaczynski at unveiling of new monument to his late brother, Lech, in Warsaw on 10 November (Photo: pis.org.pl)

Orthodox values, antipathy to Muslim migrants, and opposition to EU institutions should form the backbone of a new Italian-Polish league in Europe, Italy's Matteo Salvini has said.

But Salvini's pro-Russian views could still block formation of the new group.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Matteo Salvini in Putin T-shirt at Kremlin in 2018, as shown on Russian TV at the time (Photo: russia.tv)

"Because the Franco-German axis has dominated Europe for years, we want a new balance, a new energy ... Poland and Italy will be the heroes of this new European spring, this rebirth of real European values," the Italian deputy prime minister and interior minister said in Warsaw on Wednesday (9 January).

He described Italy and Poland as defenders of orthodox values against an EU which threatened traditional families by promoting LGBTI rights.

Poland had rightly said "Europe must return to its identity, to its Judeo-Christian roots - which is being rejected in Brussels in a crazy way, where family values are rejected," Salvini said.

The Italian politician invoked the late Polish pope, John Paul II, claiming the late cleric had also wanted a "Europe of values, identity, countries and nations, respect".

The new Italian-Polish league ought to focus on 10 items, Salvini added, listing seven of them as: "security, border defence, family values, support for agriculture, freedom of choice in judicial affairs, schools, or the environment".

He hammered the points on keeping out Muslim migrants and on opposition to EU institutions, saying: "Countries must be able to defend their borders and citizens without outside [EU] interference."

The EU "was a "nightmare ... of unemployment, uncertainty, and lack of security" for ordinary people, he also said.

He spoke after meeting Polish interior minister Joachim Brudzinski and visiting a WWII memorial in Warsaw.

He appealed to Polish interests as well as to right-wing feeling by mentioning judicial affairs and agriculture.

Polish interests

Poland's ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), is facing possible sanctions over its judicial reforms and its boycott of EU migrant quotas, in disputes that could see cuts in EU subsidies for Polish farmers.

Salvini also met Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and PiS party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski later the same day.

Morawiecki, for his part, backed Salvini for splurging on welfare in Italy in defiance of EU fiscal limits.

Poland and Italy believed "there's no place ... for discriminatory treatment of member states by EU institutions", Morawiecki's spokeswoman said, referring to gripes that Italy was facing EU disciplinary measures, while other overspenders, such as France, were not.

"I talk to my Italian friends and they're very upset about this," Morawiecki told US broadcaster CNBC the same day.

Salvini's meeting with Kaczynski, Poland's de facto leader, sounded less cozy, however.

The talks "opened the path to further contacts," Kaczynski's spokeswoman said, but "matters were [also] raised where there was divergence in points of view between PiS and the League [Salvini's party]", she added.

The main divergence, according to insiders cited by Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, was Russia.

Poland has a historical distrust of Russia and Kaczynski believes Russian leader Vladimir Putin assassinated his twin brother, the late Polish president Lech Kaczynski, in the Smolensk air disaster in 2010.

Putin fan

But Salvini is a self-avowed Putin fan who opposes EU sanctions on Russia, and whose lines on EU gay rights and Germany's EU "axis" come straight out of Russia's propaganda manuals.

Salvini did not give a press conference after his Kaczynski talks.

But the Italian populist, while in Poland, repeated his pro-Russia line in what might have been a political mistake.

"Instead of soothing and solving, it [the EU sanctions regime] creates risk of escalation and prolongation of problems," Salvini said.

"Sanctions have not achieved any concrete result ... while [Russian] counter-sanctions are destroying the economies of EU countries. If we keep going down this road, it won't end well," he added.

There is no evidence of the EU's economic "destruction" at Russia's hands.

Salvini also aims to get Austrian, Dutch, French, and Swedish far-right parties into his new group in the hope of getting 140 or so MEPs in the European Parliament (EP) after EU elections in May.

Brudzinski, the Polish interior minister, who invited Salvini to Warsaw, said on Wednesday that no matter what happens with the EP project, it was wrong to "position us [PiS] as [being] extremely anti-European", because Kaczynski wanted to "strengthen the EU and reform it from within".

But for Poland's pro-EU opposition party, the Civic Platform, Salvini's Polish visit was still "shocking".

"The meeting between Kaczynski and Salvini was something extraordinary. I believe they're talking about how to create a new EU variant, how to dismantle it [the EU], how to coordinate anti-European forces," Civic Platform chief Grzegorz Schetyna said.

Italy and Poland in talks on anti-EU league

Poland and Italy's right-wing rulers are to cement their "special relations" in Warsaw, in what could make Salvini's anti-EU group a major force in the EP.

EU leaders out of touch with normal people, Poland says

The European Parliament elections in May will show that EU officials in Brussels, and French president Emmanuel Macron, are out of touch with average Europeans, according to the Polish prime minister.

Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?

It is Tibor Navracsics, an ex-EU commissioner and minister without portfolio in Orban's new government, who was reportedly picked to work on closer relations between Fidesz and the European People's Party.

News in Brief

  1. British PM defiant amid spate of resignations
  2. France says EU fiscal discipline rules 'obsolete'
  3. Russia claims untouchable status due to nuclear arsenal
  4. Catalan MEPs lose EU court case over recognition
  5. 39 arrested in migrant-smuggling dragnet
  6. France to nationalise nuclear operator amid energy crisis
  7. Instant legal challenge after ok for 'green' gas and nuclear
  8. Alleged Copenhagen shooter tried calling helpline

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  2. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  3. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  4. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  5. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  6. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia
  7. 'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements
  8. Greece defends disputed media and migration track record

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us