Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister and leader of the far-right League Party, hosted members of European nationalist and far-right parties on Monday in Milan to discuss forming a broad political alliance within the European Parliament. The meeting in a luxury Milan hotel was held under the slogan, "Towards a Common Sense Europe! People Rise Up." Salvini was joined by representatives of right-wing populist parties from Germany, Finland and Denmark. Salvini aims to unite all the far-right blocs of European politics under one broad alliance in order to gain the majority in the European Parliament and change the policies in favor of nationalist, anti-immigrant and far-right ideology using populist rhetoric. At the top of the far-right blocs' political agenda, the populist alliance demands a halt to all illegal migration, stronger European borders, restoring political sovereignty to EU nations and protecting what they called "European culture."
Also, the accession process of Turkey to the European Union is one of the biggest concerns for the alliance. Addressing the issue of Turkey's accession to the European Union, Salvini said talks with Turkey, which have been suspended, should be canceled.
Salvini said that he believes Turkey would be an Islamic influence in Europe and that the country is too different culturally. Salvini also pledged that they will cancel the accession process of Turkey to the EU if the new group wins a majority in the European Parliament. "The EU chooses to pursue sanctions against Hungary and Poland while giving billions [of euros] to Turkey. The path to accession should not be suspended, but instead definitively cancelled," Salvini said, stressing that Turkey "has nothing to do with Europe."
Since 1987, Turkey has been trying to obtain full EU membership. For that end, many reforms were made in Turkey's domestic policies. Despite this, it has experienced many ups and downs in recent years, as the EU has frequently accused Turkey of drifting away from European values and democracy.
EU membership remains a top strategic goal for Turkey even though the accession talks, formally launched in 2004, have been stalled for years due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.
Many believe that Turkey's membership application has been stalled for years due to its cultural and religious identity. During the period since Turkey applied for full membership, many countries from Eastern Europe with major democratic flaws have been accepted into the union. Also, the recent "democratic recession" in many EU member countries triggers questions about the union's principles and values.
Europe's right-wing populist parties are currently divided into three different alliances: The Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group, which includes Italy's the League, France's National Rally, Austria's Freedom Party and the Netherlands' Party for Freedom; the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which includes the Danish People's Party and the Finns Party among others; and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), which includes the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the U.K.'s Brexit Party. Jörg Meuthen, of the AfD, Anders Vistisen, of the Danish People's party, and Olli Kotro, a candidate for the Finnish nationalist Finns party at the upcoming election, all accompanied Salvini at Monday's event. New members with similar ideological roots from different EU countries are expected to join the alliance before May 26, the last day of voting for the upcoming elections in the European Parliament.
Turkey summons Italian envoy over genocide decisionMeanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Ministry summoned the Italian Ambassador to Ankara, Massimo Gaiani as the Italian Senate prepares to review the decision of recognizing the 1915 events in Turkey as "genocide against the Armenians."
According to the Italian press, the recommendation of recognizing the 1915 events in Turkey as genocide, proposed by The Five Star Movement to the Senate, is expected to be voted on today.
Italian daily, La Repubblica newspaper wrote that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Ambassador Gaiani to Ankara to provide an explanation on the situation.
The Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people, a number equal to almost all Ottoman Armenians according to official records from that era, were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. However, Turkey strongly denies the genocide charges. Ankara argues that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with the invading Russian troops.
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