In Milan on Monday, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini met with conservative, nationalist parties from across Europe to discuss the formation of a broad international alliance within the European Parliament. The European Union will hold May 26 elections for members of the Parliament. Nationalist parties in Italy, Austria, Poland, and Hungary are expected to do well in the May 26 elections, and Minister Salvini has pledged to bring about a "new European spring."
Minister Salvini also serves as Interior Minister and has been strongly opposed to the illegal migration flooding Italy’s shores, reflecting growing public sentiment. He said that what the group have in mind is "a new Europe that looks toward the future and to the coming generations" and are working for "a new European dream." The meeting was organized under the slogan of ‘Towards a Europe of Reason’.
"We are not nostalgics or extremists. The only nostalgics in Brussels today are in government. We look to the future. The outdated debate about right and left, fascists and communists does not interest the 500 million citizens in Europe, which we leave to historians," said Minister Salvini, the 46-year-old head of the Lega party. Important concerns of the alliance are the protection of the external borders, fight against smuggling and terrorism, as well as respect for the national identities. Together, they will work toward employment, family policy, safety, environmental protection, and the future of young people.
Attendees included Joerg Meuthen, Chairman of the Alternative for Germany party, Olli Kotro of the Finns Party, and Anders Vistisen of the right-wing Danish People's Party. Mr. Methuen said the planned bloc would comprise at least 10 nationalist parties from different EU member states. Though absentees included Marine Le Pen of France's Nationalist Rally and Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), Minister Salvini said he speaks on behalf of other parties, including the FPÖ and the Rassemblement National (RN).
Addressing the media, Minister Salvini said, "The ambitious objective of those present is to create the leading group of the next European Parliament, the largest, most important, most decisive, and most addressed to the future.” He added they will have the newest ideas and hope to be present in nearly all of the European countries that will be voting. "Our goal is to win the EU elections and change the rules of Europe. Other parties will join us," Minister Salvini said. Plans are underway to hold a large gathering for the new Europe in Milan's Piazza Duomo on May 18.
Minister Salvini said talks with Turkey regarding joining the EU, which have been suspended, should be canceled. He said he believes Turkey would be an Islamic influence that is not needed in Europe and that the country is too different culturally.
AfD leader Mr. Meuthen emphasized the need for EU external border protection as important to defend Europe's "rich heritage" saying, "We have to be a European fortress, where we decide who can come and who can not. If (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel claims that this is not possible, we answer that this is feasible with political will, as Salvini and his Lega testify,” said Mr. Meuthen.