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Poland’s ruling party signals caution over alliance with Italy’s Salvini

12 January 2019

Italy and Poland should join forces to reshape Europe, Italy's far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday during a visit to Warsaw to drum up support for a eurosceptic alliance to contest May elections to the European Parliament.

Salvini's planned meeting with Polish ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is being watched as an early sign of whether the Italian firebrand can effectively mount a nationalist challenge at the European level.

However, Mr Salvini, who shut his country's ports to migrants last summer, provoked a government crisis by stating: "Whether it's eight or 88 migrants, I am not authorising anyone to enter Italy".

However, Polish skepticism about Salvini's friendly approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin could be an impediment to their collaboration. Lawmaker Witold Waszczykowski said "the only arrangements that have been made concern further meetings... but there are no arrangements for a deal, a creation of alliances or common clubs in the European Parliament".

Salvini was speaking during a trip in which he held talks with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński.

Matteo Salvini talks to reporters in Warsaw.

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"Kaczynski showed that he doesn't want to be a part of a euroskeptic alliance under the patronage of the Kremlin", Szuldrzynski wrote in Thursday's paper.

The Maltese government on Thursday voiced "disdain and surprise at the inaccurate allegations by Minister Salvini", pointing out that Italy had promised to take 50 migrants from Malta and that the two countries had agreed the two deals cancel each other out. He voiced hopes that the Polish and Italian governments can play a guiding role in a European nationalist surge. He described the European Union that he wants to see as one rooted in the continent's Christian heritage with strong borders that keep out migrants.

Both populist governments have been embroiled in conflicts with Brussels over topics of national sovereignty.

"One country has a budget deficit of 2.4 percent (Italy) and another country has a deficit exceeding 3 percent (France)... and they are treated differently because of some other aspects", he said, referring to a budget dispute between Brussels and Rome.

Before Salvini's visit to Warsaw, Polish ruling officials sounded positive about possible cooperation.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media during an global press conference in the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.

Poland’s ruling party signals caution over alliance with Italy’s Salvini