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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Salvini and Orban plan end to EU migrant standoff

Europe's leading anti-immigration politicians make joint declaration on tackling the crisis

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (R) shakes hands with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of a meeting in Milan. AFP
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (R) shakes hands with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of a meeting in Milan. AFP

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Milan on Tuesday, as the pair trashes out ultimatum to Brussels to end the practice of disembarking migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea on European shores.

The meeting, which follows Italian refusal to allow rescued migrants to land at a port in Sicily last week, centred on discussions regarding “alternative strategies” to deal with Europe’s migrant crisis.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Salvini said the two countries were “close to a historic breakthrough on a continental level” regarding migration, as he praised Hungary as a model case study for Italy when it came to economic and migration policy.

Though details regarding alternative strategies were scant, Mr Salvini described the get together as a one in a “long series of meetings to change the destiny of Europe”.

Standing alongside, Mr Orban called for Europe not to relocate future arrivals and instead “send them back home”.

The two leaders are renowned as two of Europe’s staunchest anti-migration campaigners and benefitted from a surge in support at the polls. In Italy, Mr Salvini has repeatedly prevented migrant rescue boats from docking, forcing the boats to find ports elsewhere in Europe.

In Hungary, Mr Orban has introduced legislation cracking down on foreign-backed organisations aiding migrants and refugees passing through the country. He once referred to migrants as “Muslim invaders”.

Last week, Italian prosectors announced that Mr Salvini was under investigation for refusing to allow coast guard ship the Diciotti to dock with 150 rescued migrants, Mr Salvini said he was not phased by the investigation.

European officials have criticised Mr Salvini’s hardline approach and called on the Rome government to resume accepting boats filled with stranded migrants.