Macron warns far-right alliance of Salvini and Orban: 'If they see me as their main opponent, they're right'

Italian and Hungarian leaders vow to work together to oppose what they see as a pro-migration bloc led by French president

Harriet Agerholm
Wednesday 29 August 2018 18:57 BST

French President Emmanuel Macron has portrayed himself as the nemesis of Europe’s far-right politicians, after Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini and Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban pledged to work together to obstruct his European agenda on migration.

At a joint press conference on Tuesday, Mr Orban said France’s premier wanted to throw open Europe’s doors to migrants, while Mr Salvini accused him of hypocrisy for talking about European co-operation but ignoring Rome’s pleas for help.

Mr Orban and Mr Salvini said would they work together before 2019 elections for the European Union’s parliament to oppose what they saw as a pro-migration group of countries led by the French president.

When asked about Mr Salvini’s and Mr Orban’s comments, Mr Macron said: “It is clear that today a strong opposition is building up between nationalists and progressives and I will yield nothing to nationalists and those who advocate hate speech.

“So if they wanted to see me as their main opponent, they were right to do so.”

Mr Macron is a pro-European leader who has sought further integration of EU nations. Mr Salvini’s League is allied to Marine Le Pen’s far-right party while Mr Orban is part of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

At the press conference, Mr Orban accused the French leader of wanting “to blow up the European People’s Party in the same way he has done with the French party system”.

He placed himself in direct opposition to Mr Macron, saying: “He leads the European force that backs migration, he’s the leader of those parties who back migration to Europe, and on the other side there’s us who want to stop illegal migration.”

Mr Salvini, who attacks Mr Macron regularly, said when Italy was struggling with an influx of migrants and refugees, it asked for help from its neighbours. These included France “where President Macron, who at home is at record low popularity, spends his time preaching lessons to foreign governments,” but does little to help, he claimed.

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