Leading nationalist and far-right figures from several European Union countries met for a “summit” in Warsaw on Saturday in an attempt to show a veneer of cooperation amid deep disagreements.
The meet was purportedly to build connections between the various far-right factions who are split among two groups in the EU parliament.
They also spoke of changing the “character of the European Union.” Poland and Hungary are currently at loggerheads with Brussels over violations they have made to the principles of the rule of law.
The get-together also comes amid attempts to bridge a rift between different sections of the European far-right over connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Faces of the far-right
The so-called “Warsaw Summit” was hosted by Poland’s ruling ultraconservative, nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS).
They were joined by France’s far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Santiago Abascal from Spain’s Vox party.
Emissaries from Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) also took part while the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Italy’s Lega were absent.
Orban arrived in Poland on Friday to meet with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The two nationalist leaders are facing problems in the EU as well as at home.
PiS has seen its popularity fall as a series of moves targeting women and LGBT minorities have sparked widespread protest. Orban’s Fidesz is facing a coalition of most opposition parties in next year’s election.
Far-right seeks to overcome differences
Morawiecki also hosted Le Pen for dinner on Friday evening, following a meeting with her in Brussels in October. This rapprochement follows years of antagonism over Le Pen’s closeness with Putin — a relationship that has been hard to tolerate in a country that was dominated for decades by the will of the Kremlin.
Radoslaw Fogiel, a PiS spokesperson admitted that the various parties are not in agreement on all topics, but pointed out that the most pro-Russian project currently in Europe is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that was championed by outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Wojciech Przybylski, editor in chief of Visegrad Insight, a policy journal focused on Central Europe, called Saturday’s meeting “essentially a PR stunt.” He told The Associated Press he thinks the event was organized so that each party could show voters “they are not alone.”
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