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Jean Asselborn; Matteo Salvini. Photo supplied

Luxemburg minister swears at Salvini as immigration summit turns ugly

This past week the interior ministers of the member states of the European Union met in Vienna where Jean Asselborn, a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, and Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Affairs in Luxembourg, inadvertently boosted conservatives.

Published: September 16, 2018, 12:17 pm

    Matteo Salvini attended too, as the Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for Italy.

    Asselborn become nasty and foul-mouthed with Salvini, while Salvini, in contrast, retained his composure and responded calmly.

    The Italian press reported on the incident, and drew attention to an issue which otherwise would have received no coverage at all: the need for Italians to start making babies again.

    Salvini pointed out that the country needed more Italians instead of importing what he called “slaves” from Africa.

    Italian daily Il Giornale reported that few words were enough for Salvini to destroy his Luxembourg counterpart, Asselborn.

    “That minister was vulgar,” Salvini noted about Asselborn and after the clash at the summit, the Lega leader said of his colleague: “He gave visibility to the meeting.”

    The Italian interior minister seemed almost amused when answering reporters’ questions at a press conference on the margins of the summit held in Vienna on migration. “I thank the Luxembourg minister who has given visibility to this meeting,” said the deputy prime minister.

    Asselborn, visibly agitated had interrupted in French with “allez, allez, allez [come on, come on]” while Salvini was speaking. Salvini responded: “Your opinion is not mine. Maybe in Luxembourg there’s a need for new immigration but in Italy there’s a need to help people have children.”

    While Minister Salvini was explaining his position on immigration to his European colleagues, the Luxembourg European and foreign affairs minister then swore at him. Salvini first tried to conclude his discourse, but then Asselborn lost patience and, turning on his microphone, blurted out: “In Luxembourg, dear sir, we had thousands of Italians who came to work with us, migrants, so that you in Italy could have the money for your children.”

    And then he ended his interruption by swearing at Salvini in French: “Merde, alors! [Damn shit!]”

    Salvini did not seek out the clash: “Good manners is about letting a statement be finished,” he said, trying to remain calm, but then he was more firm at the next press conference: “Those who did not know that we were here, thanks to the vulgar minister of Luxembourg now know,” Salvini ironically noted.

    According to Italian weekly L’Espresso, at least 33 attacks were perpetrated against migrants across the country in the past two months.

    On his Facebook page, Salvini wrote: “The Luxembourg [foreign] minister declared this morning that we need migrants because Europe is ageing. I told him I instead work towards young Italians (and Europeans) returning to bringing children into the world, because we don’t want new slaves.”

    Salvini said young people needed help to start having children again “in the way they did a few years ago, and not uproot the best of the African youth to replace Europeans who aren’t having children any more. Maybe in Luxembourg there’s this need; in Italy there’s the need to help our kids have kids, not to have new slaves to replace the children we’re not having”.

    Back in Rome, Salvini said on Friday that “I am convinced that in a few months’ time we’ll find ourselves governing Europe together with [Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orban”.

    Addressing a press conference with Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache, Salvini said “the sanctions against the Hungarian government and people are a political act, a madness by that leftwing Europe that is not resigned to change”.

    Salvini and Orban recently hailed each other as “heroes” of each other at a meeting in Milan.

    Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party and Salvini’s anti-migrant Euoskeptic League are expected to be among the populist parties who will do well in the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May next year.

    The European Parliament’s efforts to cut funding to Hungary, was met with indignation not only in Italy but in Austria too. Viktor Orban was the only head of government who did the right thing during the migration crisis, FPÖ MEP Georg Mayer told Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap.

    According to Mayer, EPP group leader Manfred Weber voted yes because he wants to become the president of the European Commission and for that, he needs the support of the left-wing and liberal parties.

    The MEP said that “the wing is changing”, eurosceptic and anti-migration forces can form a much more powerful group in the EP than before, so Weber is probably betting on the wrong force.

    Czech EPP MEP Tomas Zdechovsky told Magyar Hirlap that the EP’s report came in the wake of a non-neutral investigation, which was aimed against Hungary since the beginning. He stressed that this criticism will only make Orban stronger, and his opposition weaker.

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