Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has again praised Italian populist Matteo Salvini, calling him the most important person in Europe ahead of Salvini’s visit to Hungary this week.
Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior in Italy’s League/Five Star coalition government, is set to meet the Hungarian leader in Budapest on Thursday, which will mark the latest meeting between the two populist politicians who have become closer allies over the last year.
On the eve of the visit, Prime Minister Orbán spoke of his admiration for Salvini in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa.
“Tomorrow, [Salvini] will arrive in a country where people see him as a friend,” Orbán said, adding: “We share a common fate: both of us had to endure attacks.”
In the past, Orbán has praised the League (La Lega) leader as his “hero”, and used the term in his La Stampa interview again, saying Salvini is “the hero who was the first to stop migration by sea, while we did the same on land.”
“Migration is the most important question history has confronted us with,” he said, and added that foreseeable mass movements of people should be prevented if possible.
“This is why I think Salvini is the most important person in Europe today,” the Hungarian declared.
Viktor Orban: Matteo Salvini Is ‘My Hero’ https://t.co/R1PiEA7AXi
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 28, 2018
In March, Orbán’s party, Fidesz, was suspended from the supposedly “centre-right” European People’s Pary (EPP) grouping in the EU Parliament, led by an MEP aligned with Angela Merkel’s party, following its use of eurosceptic campaign material in the run-up to the European election in late May.
During the interview with La Stampa, Orbán warned that the EPP was committing “suicide” by working with the left-wing parties in Europe and said, “Let’s not tie ourselves to the left. Let’s find another path: co-operation with Europe’s political right.”
The notion of a potential alliance with Salvini and other populist parties was alluded to after the suspension of Fidesz from the EPP, with Orbán saying, “Hungary is too small to enforce its opinion in Europe. Media, NGOs, universities in Europe are all against us and can destroy us. That’s why we need strong allies.”
Orbán also welcomed a meeting and potential alliance between Salvini and his long-standing allies, the Law and Justice party (PiS), when the Italian minister visited Poland in January.
Hungary’s Orban Praises Italy’s Salvini: NGO Crews Are ‘White-Collar People-Smugglers’ https://t.co/9teFT0dLLl
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 19, 2018