Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Meeting at the razor wire: Hungary's Viktor Orban, Italy's Matteo Salvini

The two politicians met at Hungary's border with Serbia which had fences built to halt the flow of migrants

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini during their visit at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke. Hungarian Prime Minister's Press Office via AP
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini during their visit at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke. Hungarian Prime Minister's Press Office via AP

Hungary's prime minister hosted hard-line Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Thursday and the two main opponents to immigration in Europe toured razor-wire fences at the Hungarian border.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Mr Salvini met first at Hungary's southern border with Serbia, where Mr Orban had the fences built in 2015 to halt the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers coming north through the Balkans.

Mr Orban is also going to hold talks with Mr Salvini at his new offices in Buda Castle in the Budapest, the capital. Mr Salvini also met with his Hungarian counterpart, Sandor Pinter, and discussed migration to Europe.

"The positions of the Italian and Hungarian governments are identical on this issue," Mr Salvini said after meeting with Pinter. "We expect the new Europe to protect its external borders from May 27," referring to the day after the European Parliamentary elections end.

Mr Salvini also said Italy agreed with Hungary on the need for a reassessment of all trade and financial agreements with any non-EU countries that fail to cooperate in the repatriation of their citizens whose asylum cases are rejected in Europe.

In an interview in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Mr Orban said Mr Salvini was "the most important person in Europe today" on migration, which Mr Orban called "the most important question history has confronted us with."

The membership of Mr Orban's right-wing Fidesz party in the European People's Party, the biggest group in the European Parliament, was suspended in March over concerns about the rule of law in Hungary.

Mr Orban has hinted at leaving the People's Party anyway after the European Parliament elections, another reason for possibly tightening ties with Mr Salvini, head of the right-wing League Party.

The League is currently part of the right-wing Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the EU parliament. Mr Salvini has been working to create a new eurosceptic alliance that hopes to become the largest faction in that parliament.

Updated: May 2, 2019 09:25 PM

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