ROME – Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini fought back after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not let his party work with her in the European Parliament.
The two clashed only a week before the European elections.
“We do not want to be with people who have ruined Europe for all these years,” Salvini replied to Merkel’s refusal of his anti-immigrant League party. In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Angela Merkel ruled out the possibility of an alliance between any right-wing and anti-establishment party with its center-right European People’s Party (EPP).
“Only the migration is enough to show why we would never open the party to Mr. Salvini,” he said.
Merkel’s harsh words did not upset Italy’s new anti-immigrant leader. Salvini had never expressed a desire to join the German chancellor. Instead, he invited the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who strongly opposes Merkel’s border policy to be part of the right-wing Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group in the European Parliament.
“We want nothing to do with Merkel and [French President Emmanuel] Macron, who have destroyed this European Union. We want to save Europe from the bureaucrats, bankers and financiers who ruined it all these years,” he said.
The European elections will be held between 23 and 26 May this year. The center-right PPE and center-left Socialists and Democrats are expected to lose the combined majority in the European Parliament. The Brexit Party and the Salvini coalition of Europe of Nations and Freedom are designed to win great victories.
Salvini said last month he would like to see Russia as part of the European Union rather than Turkey, which has been trying to become a member of the bloc for years.
“To be honest, instead of offering [entry into the European Union] to Turkey, I prefer to see Russia as part of the European ranks,” Salvini said.
For the Italian nationalist leader, Russia would be much closer to Europe in terms of culture.
“I think Russia is much closer to our history, our culture, our economy, our traditions than Turkey,” he said.