'Sovereigntist wind' won't sweep EU says Mattarella

Euroskeptics rekindle sense of EU belonging says head of State

19 April, 12:32

    (ANSAmed) - Rome, April 19 - A "sovereigntist wind" formed by an alliance of nationalist parties led by Italy's League will not threaten the EU's existence, President Sergio Mattarella said in a recent interview.

    Today's Euroskeptics rekindle a sense of belonging to Europe, Mattarella said in the February 27 interview with Richard Heuzé, published by Politique Internationale.

    In the interview, Mattarella also said next month's vote will see "the first pan-European campaign".

    Earlier this month Deputy Premier, Interior Minister and anti-migrant Euroskeptic League leader Matteo Salvini said he was eyeing the top spot in the European Parliament with a raft of like-minded right-wing nationalist allies whom he met in Milan.

    Salvini said that he is aiming to form the biggest group in the European Parliament with May's elections as he met in Milan with the heads of some other European right-wing parties.

    "The aim is to become the top European group, the most numerous," Salvini told reporters at a press conference at the gathering entitled 'Towards a Common Sense Europe, Peoples Rise Up'.

    "Our aim is to win and change Europe", the 'sovereigntist' leader said.

    Among the figures taking part in the event, an alliance-building initiative ahead of May's European elections, were Jrg Meuthen of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Anders Vistisen of the Danish People's Party and Olli Kotro of the Finns Party.

    Salvini said he would head the League's list in all of Italy's constituencies for the European election.

    He also said that the outcome would not affect the League's coalition government with the 5-Star Movement (M5S).

    Also expected to be involved, but not present at Monday's meeting, are France's Marine Le Pen, Hungary's Viktor Orban and Poland's Law and Justice party - although Orban was recently said to be more concerned about not being kicked out of the European People's Party.

    Salvini dismissed talk that he was entertaining bad company in Milan.

    "There is no bad company at the table," Salvini told the press conference.

    "Bad company are the people who govern Europe".

    Salvini has come under fire from several quarters over his European allies, including from Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio, the leader of his government coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement (M5S).

    Di Maio has criticised Salvini for making common cause with parties that leave the room when the Holocaust is commemorated, referring to the Polish party.

    Salvini also called for Turkey's application to join the EU to be definitively rejected as he met with the other far-right nationalist leaders.

    "Turkey is not in Europe and it never will be," Salvini told the press conference.

    "The accession process should be cancelled. It should be definitively stopped".

    In the interview published in Politique Internationale, Mattarella added that the migrant issue can only be faced with an EU solution.

    The head of State also said that relations with France were not "torn" by a recent spat over the M5S's support for the Yellow Vests and Salvini's clashes with French President Emmanule Macron over migration.

    An extradition accord is needed with France for former Italian terrorists, Mattarella went on to say.

    "Our two countries will be able to find an accord on a delicate question like extraditions," he told Politique Internationale.

    Around 15 former leftist terrorists are said to be living in France and Interior Minister Salvini has vowed to get them back to serve their time in Italian jails. Mattarella said "Italy suffered a great deal during the Years of Lead" but "we succeeded in defeating terrorism without ever ignoring the rules of democracy and the rule of law.

    "We never resorted to emergency laws.

    "That is why today the need for justice is so strongly felt by the Italian people".

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