Orbán told a joint press conference that they were both convinced the bedrock of a strong Europe was strong and successful nation states. He said the continent must prioritise a European culture founded on Christian values, and the continent's borders must be protected against "the invasion of migrants". Orbán praised Salvini for his efforts to curb migration at sea as Hungary had done on land.

The premier said Europeans would be "better off" listening to Italy and Hungary when it came to border protection instead of French President Emmanuel Macron. Orbán called Salvini's visit an "honour", saying cooperation between their two countries' governments was at an all-time high.

He said he had shown Salvini the fence on Hungary's southern border and told him that Hungary had spent more than one billion euros on its border protection measures without Brussels reimbursing any of the cost. Orbán also noted a Hungarian proposal to establish a new body of Schengen interior ministers to handle migration policy.

Asked about inter-party cooperation, Orbán said that after the European Parliament elections in May, the European Union would be governed either by "pro-migration or anti-migration forces". The European People's Party (EPP), he said, had both kinds of politicians in its ranks, whereas the left only had politicians who supported migration, and parties to the right of the EPP only politicians who opposed it. He said Fidesz wanted the EPP to cooperate with anti-migration forces, although this was a minority view within the grouping.

Whether Fidesz remained a member of the EPP depended on "which way the EPP will turn". If the EPP "ties itself to the left", which Orbán said is "constantly losing the support of the people", it would be hard to find a place for Fidesz in that sort of grouping. He urged the EPP to be open to cooperating with parties to its right, such as Italy's ruling Liga party. Europe needed an alliance of anti-migration political forces.

"We're tired of parties with barely visible support lecturing parties that have significant voter support in their own countries," Orbán said. This was what had happened with Fidesz in the EPP. He added that the party of Frans Timmermans, the spitzenkandidat of the European Socialists, "has practically ceased to exist as a serious party".

Commenting on Bavarian State Prime Minister Markus Soeder's criticism of his meeting with Salvini, Orbán said: "We expect more respect … We will publicly and openly look for ways to cooperate with Mr Salvini." However, he could not give any specific answers on any cooperation between Fidesz and Liga before the European Parliament election. Orbán said he wanted to cooperate with ambitious people who were willing to act "instead of the current Brussels bubble" that had "lost touch with the real world".

# Orbán and Salvini visited the southern border of the country (photo: MTI)

The prime minister said he saw four problems that could only be solved by a new European leadership. These were Europe's failure to protect itself and respect its member states, the leadership's refusal to listen to the people, and the "constant weakening" of the bloc's economy. Orbán expressed agreement with Salvini that Europe needed to "open a new chapter".

Salvini said that what Europe needed was not a distribution system for migrants but rather a Europe capable of protecting its borders on sea and land. Hungary conducts lawful checks on people attempting to enter the country, the Liga party's leader said, adding that Hungary had sealed the border quickly and efficiently.

The Italian politician noted that the situation would change for Europe and its peoples after the May election. "We aim to define" the EU and its transformation and offer alternatives to the current European leadership, he added. A "great alliance" would be formed by those who cared for Europe's future.

Insisting that a leftist leadership would lead to "an Islamic caliphate in Europe", Salvini pledged to "do everything to save the continent from that sad end". Regarding migration, "the open port policy" had resulted "in many dead" while the policy of control had succeeded in reducing the number of casualties. Integration was possible only if the number of migrants was kept under control.

Salvini said Hungary and Italy acknowledge the rights of "real refugees" and work to stop those "who do not flee from war but intend to bring that war to Europe". The policy of Europe having a place for everyone had "turned the Mediterranean into a mass grave".

His Liga party would "represent the Europe of the future". Salvini thanked Orbán for an interview he gave to Italian daily La Stampa. If the European People's Party shared Orbán's views, "then an alliance would be a beautiful thing", he said.


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