Poles signal caution over alliance with Italy's Salvini

Matteo Salvini in Putin T-shirt at Kremlin in 2018 as shown on Russian TV at the time

Matteo Salvini in Putin T-shirt at Kremlin in 2018 as shown on Russian TV at the time

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.

Members of Poland's ruling party are signaling some reservations about forming an alliance with the anti-migrant Italian League party.

Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini hit back on Thursday after the Maltese government expressed "disdain and surprise at the inaccurate allegations" it said were made by him over the management of asylum seekers.

However, Polish skepticism about Salvini's friendly approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin could be an impediment to collaboration.

"I proposed to the leader of PiS Jarosław Kaczyński, and I intend to propose it to others, a pact for Europe... in which Italians, Poles, Spaniards, Danes, and others can decide whether to agree or not".

"The Europe that will be born in June will have a different pace compared to the one of today, which is guided by bureaucrats", said Mr Salvini, who is also Italy's interior minister, speaking alongside his Polish counterpart, Joachim Brudzinski. He voiced hopes that the Polish and Italian governments can play a guiding role in a European nationalist surge.

Kaczynski says Poland, the biggest beneficiary of European Union infrastructure funds, should remain a member of the bloc it joined in 2004 but wants reforms to bring more power back from Brussels to national capitals.

"(The election) will show whether the eurosceptic voices within Europe are on the rise or if the rise has been curtailed for the moment", said Michal Baranowski, the head of the German Marshall Fund's Warsaw office.

At present, Salvini is allied to a small group of far-right parties such as Marine Le Pen's National Rally in France and the anti-Islam Freedom Party in the Netherlands.

"The goal is that with the next European elections to the European Parliament the Sovranisti [the "sovereigntists"] will be the number one political movement and become a fundamental part of the next Parliament". "But that doesn't mean that he wants to build an alliance with forces that want Europe to move in a direction that from a geopolitical point of view would not be acceptable to Poland".

European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is ready to talk to Italy about the reallocation of migrants, the Commission said on Thursday.

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