Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban welcomed Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for talks on building an alliance of anti-immigration parties.
Orban took Salvini by helicopter to show him the razor-wire fence he built during the migrant crisis in 2015, and the two discussed their joint aim of preventing an “Islamic caliphate” in Europe.
After the visit, Salvini posted a Facebook video titled Il Capitano in ungheria (The Captain in Hungary), using his preferred nickname.
In it, the League leader is seen greeting Orban with a hug and a kiss before they stroll alongside the razor-wire fence together.
Salvini (L) and Orban hold a joint press conference in Hungary on Thursday. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP
“We are spectacularly, confidently, openly seeking cooperation with Salvini,” Orban told journalists after talks with Salvini in Budapest.
“Although what actual form that takes we will see..I am convinced that Europe needs an alliance of anti-immigration parties,” he said.
The leader of Italy's anti-immigrant League party said he “came to Hungary to build a new Europe,” and that he “doesn't want an Islamic Caliphate.”
European voters are due to choose a new parliament in elections from May 23-26.
Across Europe, far-right, nationalist parties such as Salvini's League and Orban's Fidesz foresee unprecedented gains as they campaign on anti-migrant, anti-Islam policies and use nationalist rhetoric.
Salvini has called on nationalist parties scattered across the European Parliament to join forces and form a new alliance ahead of the election, though so far his plan isn't gaining much traction.
Most of Europe's right-wing nationalists are currently divided into three blocs and a tangled web of alliances in the European Parliament, which they would like to overhaul, if not destroy.
Orban's ruling Fidesz party currently belongs to the European parliament's centre-right European People's party (EPP) group — although it has been suspended after it ran a campaign accusing European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker of plotting to flood Europe with migrants.
Orban insists Fidesz want to stay in the EPP but in a interview with Italian paper La Stampa Sunday he urged the grouping to “work with the forces on the right” and called Salvini a “hero” for reducing migration by sea.
Staying in the EPP depends on what direction the grouping takes after the vote, said Orban, whose election campaign has focused exclusively on pledges to “stop immigration”.
Budapest also announced Monday that Orban will visit US President Donald Trump in Washington for the first time on May 13.
Salvini has convened a Milan meeting of anti-EU parties for May 18, with Marine Le Pen, head of France's National Rally party, and Czech far-right leader Tomio Okamura invited.
Orban declined to confirm if he would also attend, after he and Le Pen were too busy to attend Salvini's last such meeting.
Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP